Did you know you have the best free tool you’ll ever need to develop critical thinking in your learners within arms reach right now? Don’t believe me? Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and draw two overlapping circles. That’s it…it’s within your grasp. You’ve solved to the age-old problem of getting kids thinking critically by creating a Venn Diagram. And the best part is…it’s free and guaranteed to work!
What is a Venn Diagram?
At its core, a Venn Diagram is a graphic organizer designed to compare and contrast two things. So, as good teachers and homeschoolers, we have our kids use these, typically in English or Reading, when discussing similarities and differences. Then we put away the Venn Diagrams and move on to the next topic…never considering the positive implications this tool could have on that subject, too.
Well, today that’s going to change as we look at 25 different ways Venn Diagrams can be implemented across all the subject areas. Then, hopefully, you can use these ideas as a springboard for all sorts of engaging activities!
Using Venn Diagrams in Core Subjects
The term “core subjects” refers to ELA (English/Language Arts), Math, Science, and Social Studies/History. We want our learners to be successful critical thinkers in EVERY class, but to do that we have to let them practice these skills.
This is the subject that we commonly think of when we hear Venn Diagrams. We generally compare and contrast various texts and parts of texts. However, you can do so much more than that! Consider…
- Common Prefixes (replay, redo)
- Identical Suffixes (laughable, breakable)
- Base Words (preview, review)
- The same author, multiple texts (Patricia Polacco-Pink and Say: Thank You, Mr. Falker)
- Multiple texts illustrated by the same artist (David Catrow-Wet Dog: I Wanna Iguana)
- Passages with a common theme (Unity, Love, or Friendship)
- Texts with a common setting (World War 1)
- Stories with a common character (Little Red Hen)
- Sequels and Prequels (Harry Potter)
- Passages from a specific genre (fairy tales)
Venn diagrams in this subject can be a little trickier. However, once you start coming up with ideas, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few to get you started…
- Numbers (2-prime, even, 2+0=2 : 4-composite, even, 2+2=4)
- Different Operations (subtraction-start with a whole, decompose # : division-groups, decompose #)
- Problems using the same operation (2×2=4-even multiple, 2 groups, 2 objects in each group : 3×2=6-even multiple, 3 groups, 2 objects in each group)
- Different Operations (2+2=4 : 2×5=10)
Compare and Contrast…
- Native American tribes (Seminole, Sioux)
- Socioeconomic status between countries (rich, poor)
- Religious practices (Europe, North America)
- The attitudes in the United States during the Civil War (South, North)
- Clothing styles (China, Africa)
- Expectations in the workforce (men, women)
Adding a compare and contrast activity into science is very easy because of the natural categorization and variations in this subject. Consider incorporating Venn Diagrams when studying…
- Physical Traits
- Elements and Molecules
- Body Systems
The most important part of any effective activity is to make it fun! Doing something too many times can become boring to your kiddos, and comparing and contrasting is no different.
So, consider making this experience more “hands-on” by using 2 hula-hoops to create the Venn Diagram. To keep things interesting give your learners a piece of chart paper and let them create a huge version. They will enjoy the novelty, but they will still be thinking critically.
If you haven’t been using these, remember to show yourself grace. Every day is a new day, and you can begin implementing them now.
There are so many interesting ways to adapt Venn Diagrams for our learners, and we need to include them in our lessons frequently. This one tool will give your kids the opportunity to think critically about everything they study. Thus, developing a greater hunger for knowledge and understanding. With 2 circles, the sky is the limit!