‘What’s the same, what’s different’ is currently one of my favourite activities for anything! It’s a great way to get the children talking; makes a great starter activity or assessment; it’s a perfect post reading guided reading activity and so the list goes on…
What’s the same, what’s different – characters:
Do you need to compare characters in a story? Take Glinda the Good and The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz – they’re both witches; they both have magical powers; they both wear something on their heads; one is wicked and one is green – you get the picture. Alternatively you may want to encourage children to compare characters across books following guided reading sessions? For example, compare Lila in The Firework Maker’s Daughter and Maia in Journey to the River Sea – they’re both girls; they’re both adventurous; they both end up in boats; Lila has a father but Maia is an orphan; Lila is poor but Maia’s family has money.
What’s the same, what’s different – settings:
Do you need to compare the settings at different parts of a story to look at atmosphere? For example think about settings in the Firework Maker’s Daughter: the jungle and the fire cave. Both are in China; Lila is in both; one is hot; one cool; both have hostile elements and so on…
What’s the same, what’s different – adaptability:
What I really like about ‘what’s the same, what’s different’ is its adaptability as an activity – originally a maths activity I soon realised it could be used in English. More recently we have been using it to talk about the New Curriculum – what’s the same, what’s different? It makes a great staff meeting activity; take this Y5/6 reading statement as an example:
Increase their familiarity with a wide range of books, including myths, legends and traditional stories, modern fiction, fiction from our literary heritage, and books from other cultures and traditions.
What’s the same? Well most of the text types. What’s different? Some of the language – literary heritage is ‘books by significant children’s authors/older literature’ by another name… What’s the same, what’s different is a really quick way to explore a theme without telling. In the case of the New Curriculum it also helps to reassure staff that not everything has changed.
So what will you come up with that’s the same but different? We’d love to know your ideas!
If you like what you’ve read here take a look at our Selfish Giant post which also refers ‘what’s the same, what’s different’.
Charlotte Reed – Director, Primary English Education Consultancy Limited