Compare and Contrast

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Language Arts, Writing, Editing, Writing Process, Traits of Writing

Grade 3- 5


Students learn the elements of and write comparison and contrast paragraphs.


To begin this activity, review with students what a paragraph is. Tell them that a paragraph is a smaller unit of a larger piece of writing, just as a fabric square is a smaller unit of a quilt. A paragraph has a beginning, middle, and end.

The first sentence of a paragraph is the topic sentence. It tells what the paragraph will be about. A sentence like ":I go to school," is a weak topic sentence because it doesn't tell anything about what you will be saying about going to school. A topic sentence that says, "I go to a very strange school," is not only more interesting, it tells something about what you will be saying.

The middle of the paragraph contains sentences which follow the topic sentence and add specific details to make the topic more interesting or help explain what you mean. Every sentence in the middle of the paragraph, or the body, needs to be about the topic stated in the topic sentence. If you were to use the topic sentence about going to a strange school, a middle sentence might say, "From a distance my school looks like a space ship."

The last sentence of your paragraph is the concluding sentence, or closing. This sentence reminds the reader of what the topic is about or what it means. For the paragraph about going to a strange school, this could be a closing sentence: "Because of its shape, location, and the strange noises coming from the factory down the hill, it is clear that I go to a strange school."

Introduce students to the idea of comparison and contrast paragraphs. Describe the method of writing about two things and explaining how they are the same and how they are different.


  • On the Other Hand activity sheet (one per student)
  • pencils

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