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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Distracting Powers of Mr. Smelly (but mostly comparing and contrasting)

I originally planned to be gone for a conference today (National Science Teachers of America are in Indy!), but I ended up feeling really drained this week. Last night I was not feeling up to sub plans and running around a conference trying to get the most I could out of it in a day.

So I changed gears, and came to school today. The kids were all surprised (but happy). I immediately regretting not finding a wig and wearing my contacts and trying to pull a Miss Nelson is Missing on them, but oh well. Another time.

As it turns out, between a kid throwing up and an office referral, it was the kind of day that was not-so-great for me, but might have been completely chaotic for a sub! So glad I didn't put someone through that!

We've been working with compare and contrast. I use those two words constantly, because so many kids know this skill- but then get to a test and don't know what "compare" means. Nothing frustrates me more than watching them miss a concept they actually know just because of nomenclature.

I reviewed what compare and contrast meant (again) and made a quick Venn diagram on the board comparing two things.

Then, I split them into groups, gave them chart paper and markers, and let them 'draw' two things to compare from the slips of paper in my hands. (The group below got shirt and pants, which in hindsight was pretty difficult- but they did great!)

This was the "Teacher and Kid" group. Fun fact: one of the big differences is that we teachers have bigger feet.

 The kids had to decide who was going to draw the circles, if they were going to take turns writing or let one person write, and who got to share each part afterwards.

 I really talk to them a lot about how to manage groups, and this class has mostly gotten very good at it. I try not to assign roles unless absolutely necessary, because it is such a great opportunity for them to practice peaceful conflict management. One of the easiest tips is just teaching them to use Rock, Paper, Scissors (Ro Sham Bo) as an easy, clear decision tool.

I love that using the big paper and markers gets them so engaged. We could have just as easily done this on paper, but they wouldn't been near so involved.

My kids compared shirts and pants, cats and dogs, home and school, oceans and rivers, teachers and kids, and the teacher to the principal. (Yes, some of them were pretty tricky!)

Groups of 3 or 4 were just about perfect for this activity, if you decide to try it.

Isn't it wonderful to walk around and hear kids actually on task? (Well, other than the one group that could not figure out the scent of the brown marker. Is it chocolate? Is it cinnamon? Is it gross? Oh, Mr. Smelly, if only my kids had as much interest in me as they do you...)

Tomorrow I want to try to mix in some math with something like "Compare 56 and 95." Should be interesting!

How do you teach compare and contrast?


  1. Hey Jenny! I got your comment on my blog. I've been including the morning work in the Treasures units but I would be glad to email it to you. Just email me @ and I'll get it to you. Let me know what week you are on too. Thanks!

    Swimming into Second

  2. I was suppose to be at that conference too!! Crazy how things work out.

    Sparkles , Smiles, and Student Teaching

  3. LOL Love the "not a mom" line. And big feet. Very specific and important differences! :)
    Buzzing with Ms. B

  4. This is a great post with fantastic pictures. Keep it up!

  5. I love this. What great hands-on fun!

    We do an activity called 6 to 1. They have to think of 6 ways the two things are alike and 1 way they are different. You can change the numbers.

    We use math sorting rings all of the time in word study. You can show the kiddos how even words can be compared and contrasted! =)

    Thank you for this great post!

    Your little froggie profile picture makes me smile each time I see it! =)

    Heather's Heart


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