T-Rex compares and contrasts

Author: Ken Baker
Lesson Plan:

T-Rex Compares and Contrasts Lesson Plan

Compare and Contrast lesson plan student level: 1st to 6th grade elementary

Compare and Contrast lesson plan materials required:

Compare and Contrast lesson plan activity time: 20-60 minutes.

Objective of Compare and Contrast lesson plan: Help teachers achieve common core standards for comparing and contrasting by teaching students how to compare and contrast using similarities and differences between a T-Rex and humans as discussed in the picture book How to Care for Your T-Rex. Include optional scientific discovery and exploration compare and contract section.

Step 1 - Introduce Comparing and Contrasting
Explain that comparing and contrasting involves looking at things and figuring out how they are similar (alike) and how they are different. Tell the students that comparing is when you identify things that are alike or similar between two or more things. Add that contrasting is when you identify things that are not alike or that are different between two or more things.

To give them the opportunity to compare and contrast, read the picture book How to Care for Your T-Rex to your students and ask them to listen for similarities and differences between the T-Rex and people."

Step 2 - Identify similarities and differences
After reading the story, write "Alike" on the top middle of your chalkboard. Then write "T-Rex differences" on the top left and "People differences" on the top right. Ask the students to name things that are similar between the two and write those on the chalkboard under "Alike". When doing this you might want to note that some of the things that are alike, also have differences. For example, both people and T-Rex have heads, but people have little heads compared to T-Rex, so you might write "head (big vs. small)."

Next, ask how the T-Rex and People are different. Differences for T-Rex might include Tail, Claws, Eats 300 pounds, etc. When doing this you might want also to note that some of the things that are different, also have similarities, such (2 fingers on each hand vs 5 fingers on each hand). Differences for people might include Hair, Fingernails, Clothes, Visible Ears, etc.

Step 3 - Create a Compare and Contrast Venn Diagram
Explain that sometimes it helps to see the similarities and differences between things by creating what is called a Venn diagram. Create a Venn diagram on the board by drawing a circle that encloses all words under "Alike" and all the words under the left side "Differences". Draw a second circle that encloses all words under "Alike" and all the words under the right side "Differences".

Explain that where the circles overlap shows the items' similarities, and where they don't overlap shows the differences. For the "Alike" items that have some differences, draw a line from each side of the word into the "Differences" circle and write what the difference is in the corresponding circle ("Big----Head---Little).

Optional Scientific Exploration Comparing and Contrasting reinforcement assessment activity:
Explain to students that scientists believe that birds and crocodiles are the closest living relatives to the T-Rex. When trying to learn about the T-Rex, sometimes scientist compare and contrast what they know about birds and crocodiles to form a hypothesis about the T-Rex. For example, from the fact that both crocodiles and birds both lay eggs, you can form the hypothesis that T-Rex probably laid eggs too.

A good scientist would look at other evidence (i.e. fossils and other information) to prove or disprove that hypothesis. Sometimes scientist form a hypothesis based on a characteristic that only the bird or the crocodile has, but they will rely on information from other sources before doing so. If neither the crocodile nor bird has a certain characteristic, it's unlikely that the T-Rex did either.

Ask your students to decide if a T-Rex hypothesis that you give them is probable or not by creating a crocodile and bird Venn diagram and then using the following formula:

  • Alike characteristics = Probably a valid hypothesis, but still needs to be proven.
  • Different characteristic = Could be a hypothesis but needs more evidence.
  • No supporting characteristic = Probably not a valid hypothesis.

Have the students share the differences and similarities that they listed that helped them decide if hypothesis was valid or not.

Ideas for a hypothesis might include any of the following:

  • Did T-Rex have fur? Feathers? Scales?
  • Did T-Rex have good eyesight?
  • Was T-Rex a hunter?
  • Did T-Rex eat meat?
  • Did T-Rex eat plants?

Optionally, you can have your students form their own T-Rex hypothesis based the crocodile and bird Venn diagram they created

* Note: A hypothesis is a proposed belief or explanation that a scientist makes to use as a starting point to learn more about something. Once a scientist has a hypothesis, they look at other information or evidence (i.e., fossils) to prove or disprove the hypothesis.