Teaching students how to compare and contrast isn’t just “one more skill” to add your lesson plans. It’s an essential skill your students will use throughout their everyday lives. It will be used well beyond your classroom walls. Examples include everything from comparing prices at the grocery store to deciphering the differences between two computer models. Your students may even need to pick out a daycare center for a child one day! Truly, understanding how to identify similarities and differences is so important! We need to make sure that we are doing all we can to help our students master the concepts to the best of their abilities. Once students feel comfortable comparing and contrasting objects, we can transfer this skill to our students’ reading lives.
One of the struggles I have faced as a first-grade teacher is how to help my students compare and contrast without using the same words all.the.time: same and different. There are many other words that show up within a text that signal to readers the concept of comparing and contrasting, and I want my students to know and use them. To name a few, examples are however, but, although, both, similar, and alike. I wanted to create some lessons to target these signal words and get my students using them, discussing them, and writing them. I knew the lessons needed to be highly engaging, memorable, and effective if I wanted the skill of comparing and contrasting to STICK!
Compare & Contrast Construction Day!
I created a Compare and Contrast Construction Day! My kids were OBSESSED and the engagement level was through the roof! I completed these activities within an afternoon (much like the way we completed our Restaurant Retell activities that you can learn about by clicking here.) You could certainly split up these activities and spread them out over the course of a few days. In this post, I’ll show you what our day looked like. Grab your hard hat, and let’s go!
Throughout this post, you’ll find some Amazon affiliate links, which means Amazon throws a few cents my way if you happen to purchase something from those links – at no extra cost to you. These links help me keep my tiny corner of the Internet running so that I can continue to share ideas and resources with you!
Construction Day Set-Up
Setting up for this little theme day was SO EASY! I slapped some construction tape on my door to get my students excited, curious, and motivated about our day from the minute they walked in.
Since we started Compare and Contrast Construction Day Pack after lunch, I had plastic hard hats and a construction paper “toolbox” waiting at each student’s desk when they entered the room. The hats were a big success! My students could not WAIT to get started learning and working!
The Compare and Contrast Toolkit
Above is an up-close picture of the Compare and Contrast Tool kits that I had pre-made for each child. These tool kits come from my Compare and Contrast Construction Pack found here. I simply printed them on brown paper, folded them in half, and stuck two staples on each side.
Before we began, I told my students that the first thing a construction worker needs to do is gather his or her tools! I printed the compare and contrast “tool cards” onto orange and yellow paper. I had the students cut out their own cards and add them to the tool kits. After they were done “filling up their toolkit”, they met me at the carpet with their hats and tool boxes.
Compare & Contrast Whole Group Construction
The picture above shows an anchor chart that I had ready to go at our meeting area. I used two books for my whole group lesson: The Digger and the Flower by Joseph Kuefler and Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney. I had already read The Digger and the Flower to my students prior to our theme day, so we reviewed the book as a class and I read Little Excavator to them. *If you have not read either of these books to your class before, you may want to read one or both of them the day before to cut down on time. They are quick and adorable books and your students will LOVE them! Another thing to note is that you can complete these activities and lessons using ANY two books. I love using the books shown above because it aligns perfectly with the construction theme.
Construction Day Small Group Work
After we read, students used their tool cards to discuss the similarities and differences with partners. It’s important to note that before I let them discuss each card with their partner, I modeled how to use the signal words. For example, “These books are similar because ______.” Another example is, “The Digger and the Flower had ______, however, The Little Excavator _________.” These sentence stems really helped my students have rich and rigorous discussions and language practice with their partners!
After our whole group lesson, it was time for my students to do some small group work! I placed my students into small groups of three based on their independent reading levels. I made sure the students were as close in their reading levels as possible. Then I handed each student a construction bag that had an assignment card inside (shown above). The students had to figure out where their construction job site was located. Then they had to find the corresponding construction cone placed around our room.
As you can see, if a group’s job assignment was to report to Construction Site #3, the group had to find the #3 cone. Under the cone I placed two books that were on or around the group’s reading level. Fairy tale versions, fables, or books based on similar topics work well for this. Some of the books that I had placed under the cones were books they had read already, but some were new.
The students first read and enjoyed the two books together. I loved seeing them scattered around our room fully engaged in books together! They wore their hard hats and took their jobs VERY seriously!
After the students read their two books together, they worked as a team to compare and contrast the two books. The students used their compare and contrast cards to discuss how the characters and events were similar and different. They recorded the similarities and differences on a recording sheet that coordinated with their cards. My Compare and Contrast Construction pack includes MANY differentiated recording sheets. You can choose a recording sheet that best meets your students’ needs.
Below are some pictures of my students’ work. They did an amazing job!
Construction Day Share Time
We met back as a whole class after we worked in small groups and did a little share session. Each group shared the two texts that they read with another little group. They also shared a few similarities and differences between the two books. The share time was another way for me to informally assess the students’ understanding by circulating and listening to their discussions.
Finally, I passed out bookmarks that are included in the pack for the students to use during independent reading. I let the students take their tool kits home with them at the end of the day. (Just like I did with their Restaurant Retell sandwiches.) However, you could certainly keep them at school and have them store the tool kits in their book bins.
Hold Your Own Construction Day!
I hope you LOVED learned about our Compare and Contrast Construction Day! We had so much fun and the tools and mini transformation really helped the learning stick for my students. Not to mention, I had just as much fun as the kids! You can find all of the resources for this fun day in my Compare and Contrast Construction pack found here.
Construction Day Supplies
Below you’ll also find some Amazon links to the extra supplies that I used for our Compare and Contrast Construction Day. These supplies are not necessary, but they added to the novelty of the day. I hope the links make hosting your own construction day easy and simple!
Share Our Construction Day!
Please feel free to use the image below to pin this post to your Pinterest page to refer to later, or share it with a colleague at school! Thank you so much for joining me on our Compare and Contrast Construction Day tour!