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Compare and Contrast Short

Stories
Fourth Grade Reading

by Sarah Zegarra July 30, 2018

By fourth grade, most students are familiar with story elements such as setting, characters, and plot. In this
lesson, students will compare and contrast the elements in two stories with similar themes.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to identify similarities and differences between two short stories with similar themes.

Materials and preparation Key terms

Class set of Comparing Two Stories compare


Class set of Compare Ghost Stories contrast
Chart paper theme
Document camera and projector
Class set of Compare and Contrast Fictional
Stories: Persephone (optional)

Attachments

Comparing Two Stories (PDF)


Compare Ghost Stories (PDF)
Compare and Contrast Fictional Stories: Persephone (PDF)
Comparing Two Stories (PDF)

Introduction (5 minutes)

Ask students to name some of their favorite fiction stories and record students' answers on a piece of
chart paper.
Ask students to discuss with a partner why these stories are their favorites. If needed, guide students
with the following questions:
Do you enjoy the characters?
Is the plot or series of events exciting?
Is the theme or topic one that matters to you?
Tell students that oftentimes readers discover a passion for a particular book genre or type of story, and
decide to stick with this type of literature for a period of time. For example, some kids like a particular
author or books in a series. Explain to students that skillful readers regularly compare and contrast
stories with similar themes, especially if it is a theme the reader enjoys. Explain that a story's theme is
also known as the overarching topic or issue in a story; it's essentially what the story is all about.
Inform students that today they will compare and contrast elements of two short stories that both deal
with a similar theme.
EL

Beginning

Show samples of books in a series or books by the same author to provide greater context for learners.

Get more lesson plans at https://www.education.com/lesson-plans/


Intermediate

Provide sentence stems to use as students discuss their favorite fiction book titles. For example, "My
favorite stories are ____."

Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling (15 minutes)

Tell students that to compare stories is to find elements they have in common, and to contrast stories
is to find their differences.
Ask students to think of two well known stories, such as "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" and "The Three
Little Pigs." Briefly go over each story orally, and invite students to chime in and contribute to the basic
story outline. Document the story outline (bullet points) on a piece of chart paper.
Explain that you chose these two stories because they share a similar theme of three animal siblings that
discover an enemy who wants to eat them.
On a separate piece of chart paper, draw a Top Hat Comparison chart (see related materials), and show
how you compare and contrast the two stories. For example, in the goats' story, they overcome the troll
by knocking him over into the river with their horns; while in the pigs' story, one of the pigs overcomes
the wolf by building a sturdy house made of bricks. Add the stories' similarities to the bottom part of the
chart. Be sure to include character, setting, and plot comparisons.
Have students consider the comparisons, and answer any questions they have.
EL

Beginning

Provide student-friendly definitions for unfamiliar words in students' home language (L1) and the new
language (L2).

Intermediate

Draw or print out images to include in the graphic organizer comparing the two stories.

Guided Practice (10 minutes)

Display the Comparing Two Stories worksheet on the document camera and distribute a copy to each
student.
Read aloud the two stories, pausing to answer any clarifying questions.
Then, instruct students to read the stories again with a partner.
Model how to complete the character comparison (the first row in the table).
Instruct students to work with their partner to complete the rest of the story comparison.
Circulate to offer assistance as needed.
EL

Beginning

Simplify the texts of the two stories using an online resource such as rewordify.com.

Intermediate

Allow students to use bilingual resources such as glossaries and dictionaries to help make meaning of the
two texts.
Highlight the texts with different colors to indicate the various story elements (e.g., green for the setting
and blue for the problem).

Independent working time (15 minutes)

Hand out the Compare Ghost Stories worksheet to students and read the directions aloud.
Instruct students to read the two stories independently, and answer the questions on the second page.

Get more lesson plans at https://www.education.com/lesson-plans/


EL

Beginning

Simplify the texts of the two stories using an online resource such as rewordify.com.
Put students in a small teacher-led group to complete the worksheet.

Intermediate

Have students work in partnerships to read the texts and answer the questions.
Provide sentence frames such as:
"The characters are similar because they are both _____."
"The endings are different because in one story ____ while in the other story ____."

Related books and/or media

IMAGES: Top Hat Comparison Chart


VIDEO: How to Teach Students to Compare and Contrast by McGraw Hill Education PreK-12
Find interactive books for each child's level.

Differentiation

Support:

During the independent work time, read aloud the stories and have students answer the questions with a
partner.
Highlight important parts of either text with different colored highlighters to help compare the two
stories.

Enrichment:

Have students complete a Top Hat Comparison Chart on their own with two stories they have read
recently.
Students could complete the Compare and Contrast Fictional Stories: Persephone worksheet for more
advanced practice of story comparisons.

Assessment (10 minutes)

Lead students in a 1-3-6 activity.


After they have completed the independent work, have students share their answers to the questions in a
group of three, and then in a group of six.
Model how to share your answers in both group formats. Review active listening skills and projecting
one's voice.
Display the following sentence stems to use in the group discussion:
"I agree with you when you say ____."
"I disagree with your idea that ____ because ____."
"What do you mean when you say ____?"
"I'd like to add ____."
Observe and take notes on students' six-person discussion to gauge their understanding of comparing
short stories.
EL

Beginning

Place students in groups with sympathetic non-ELs to help them in the small group discussions.

Intermediate

Provide a phrase bank for ELs to use to complete the sentence frames.

Get more lesson plans at https://www.education.com/lesson-plans/


Review and closing (5 minutes)

Show the video on story comparison (see related media), and have students identify the story elements
the video uses as points of comparison.
EL

Beginning

Provide a second viewing of the video to ELs, with closed captions if possible, and pause to clarify any
unclear parts.

Intermediate

Define challenging words from the video in L1 and L2.

Get more lesson plans at https://www.education.com/lesson-plans/


Name:_______________________________ Date:____________________

Comparing Two Stories


Directions: Read the two stories below. Then complete the graphic organizer.

Story 1 Story 2

Pierre changed into his track clothes and Francesca was the best swimmer on the
laced up his shoes. He left the locker room to team. She swam the fastest. She swam long
meet the rest of the kids outside on the field. distances. She was chosen as the captain for
It was the first day of track tryouts. The coach this season. All the other girls wanted to be
walked up and greeted the athletes. like Francesca.
“I see you are all interested in being on The biggest race of the season was this
Town Creek Middle School’s track team,” the Friday. The whole school was excited. The
coach stated. “Let’s see if you have what it team would race against Leeward Middle, the
takes.” school’s rival team. Every year the schools
The boys began to complete the tryout compete against each other. The winner gets
drills. The coach wanted to see who could run a special trophy.
the farthest, who could run the longest, and Francesca was always nervous in the days
who could run the fastest. Pierre liked to run before the big race. She had a hard time
and he knew he was talented, but he didn't eating. She couldn’t sleep. It was hard to
know how well the other boys ran. Would he focus in class. All she could think about was
be good enough to make the team? how she would beat the other team.
Each time it was Pierre’s turn to run, he On Wednesday, Francesca realized that she
began shaking and it was hard to breathe. He really wasn’t feeling right. This was more than
was so nervous! The coach realized Pierre just being nervous and excited. She visited
was panicking and pulled him aside. He put the school nurse who took her temperature
his hand on his shoulder and spoke calmly to and checked her throat. The nurse called
Pierre. Francesca’s mom and sent her home from
“Pierre, I’ve seen your running skills. You school early.
have no reason to be nervous! Take a deep Francesca was devastated. She was so
breath and join this group. You’ve got this! I upset that she came down with a cold right
know you can do it,” he said. before her big race. The trophy meant so
Taking a deep breath, Pierre lined up with much for her school. What if she could not
the other boys. As soon as the whistle blew, compete? Would her team stand a chance?
he took off running. His arms and legs moved The next morning, Francesca woke up
faster than they ever had before. He con- feeling better. Her mom kept her home from
trolled his breathing and stayed focused on school so she could rest more.
the finish line. Sweat dripped down his fore- On Friday after school, Francesca and her
head as he used every muscle in his body to teammates raced at the swim meet. Her
win the race. Pierre knew he had won first team won in every event at the meet. Fran-
place. cesca even set a school record! All of Frances-
Inside, Pierre was grinning from ear to ear. ca’s rest from being sick had paid off to help
He had successfully turned his first day jitters her achieve and lead her team to victory.
into the fuel that helped him win the race and
make the team.

Copyright © 2017 Education.com LLC All Rights Reserved


More worksheets at www.education.com/worksheets

Get more lesson plans at https://www.education.com/lesson-plans/


Name:_______________________________ Date:____________________

Comparing Two Stories


Directions: Read the two stories below. Then complete the graphic organizer.
Answer Sheet Answers may vary

Story 1 Story 2

Pierre is a runner who is nervous Francesca is a swimmer who is


Characters to try out for the track team. nervous for a big swim meet
coming up.

Pierre is at track team tryouts at Francesca is at the middle school


Setting the middle school. and the swim meet.

Pierre is too nervous to run in Francesca gets sick the week of


Problem the races at tryouts. the big swim meet.

The track coach gives Pierre an Francesca has to go home sick


Events encouraging word and helps
Pierre to calm down and focus.
from school and rest. She sleeps
off the sickness.

Pierre wins the race during Francesca breaks a school record


Solution tryouts and makes the team. and leads her team to victory
against their rival team.

Sometimes what you think is a


Theme Hard work pays off. bad thing actually turns out to be
a good thing.

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La Llorona The Black Lady of Bradley Woods
Mexico and South America Lincolnshire, England

O a
, there was a beautiful , deep in the forest, a young
young widow named Maria who lived in a woman lived with her husband and small child
small village. She was the loveliest woman in
town, full of joy and passion. and they had a very happy life together.

in the village began to gossip about her. “She is not as was sad to see him go, she knew it was what he had to do.
beautiful as she once was,” they would whisper as she
passed by. “It is not right for her to be raising those at the edge of the woods; the only road for miles. He
children all alone. With the way her looks are, she might
Days, weeks, months went by, and there was no news
of her husband. Every day, she would take her baby to
day at the market, the stranger walked straight up to the edge of the woods and look down the road, hoping
Maria as she shopped. “Hello, my dear,” he said, taking
her hand. “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help noticing you. day she stood in the same spot, peering down the road as
You are so beautiful, and it would be my honor to make far as she could see, but she never saw him – in fact, she
you my bride.” never saw anyone.
Maria couldn’t believe it. “Oh, I am so happy to have One day, she went to the edge of the woods with her
a family once again!” baby, as she had been doing for years now. She waited
“…What?” he asked. He seemed surprised. and waited, and suddenly she saw two soldiers coming
“A family. I have two beautiful children, and I can’t up the road. She couldn’t believe her eyes – could it be
wait for you to meet them.”
As the two men got closer, she saw that neither
said quietly. “You are beautiful Maria, but I cannot marry of them was her husband. She feared that they were
a woman who has children that are not my own.” bringing bad news.
Before she could ask why, the stranger turned away As it turns out, the soldiers were on their way to
and headed home.
Maria was heartbroken. She had hoped this man grabbed her baby right out of her arms. She screamed
and pleaded with them to give it back, but they rode
away laughing. She was heartbroken. Every day for the
rest of her life, she went to the edge of the woods to wait
for her husband and her child to be returned to her.
what she had done, hoping he would now agree to marry It is said that if you visit the woods late at night,

again. woods, searching for the family that was taken from her.
Devastated with guilt, she went back to the river the
next night. She called out her children’s names into the

night for the rest of her life, she went to the woods to
search for her children.
Even today, if you go to a lake or river late at night,

crying for her lost children.

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Compare La Llorona with e
Black Lady of Bradley Woods

How are…

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Compare and Contrast
Fictional Stories: Persephone
The Story of Persephone

Persephone was the daughter of Zeus, ruler of the gods, and Demeter, the goddess of the
harvest. Demeter was very protective of her daughter, and turned down many suitors who
asked for Persephone’s hand in marriage.

One of these suitors was Hades, the god of the Underworld. Demeter was repulsed by the
notion of her only daughter living with Hades in darkness, among the Dead. However,
Hades did not take Demeter’s rejection lightly, and instead crafted a plan to kidnap Perse-
phone.

While she was out picking flowers in the valley, the Earth opened and Hades emerged on a
chariot pulled by 6 black horses. He took Persephone and descended back into the Under-
world. No one but Zeus and Helios, god of the sun, knew that Persephone was kidnapped,
but they decided to keep quiet in order to avoid an argument with stubborn Hades and
the tempestuous Demeter.

When Demeter discovered that her beloved daughter had gone missing, she fell into a
deep depression. She wandered the Earth looking for Persephone until Helios, feeling sorry
for her, told Demeter the truth about her daughter’s whereabouts. Demeter was furious
with Hades, and angry with Zeus for lying to her. She became so upset that she took leave
from her duties as goddess of the harvest, which plunged the earth into winter. Everyone
was cold and hungry.

In order to restore order, Zeus called forth Persephone to determine if she was being kept in
the Underworld against her will. Just before she left, Hades gave Persephone the seeds of
the pomegranate fruit, whose magical properties made people miss their life in the Under-
world.

When Persephone arrived back at Mount Olympus, she went before Zeus and Demeter.
Zeus asked his daughter where she wanted to live.

“In the Underworld, with Hades,” she replied.

“It’s a trick!” Demeter cried. “Hades has brainwashed her! If I can’t have Persephone with
me, I will make sure that the crops never grow again!”

Zeus raised his hand for silence.

“It is decided: To please both sides, Persephone will spend 6 months of the year with her
mother and 6 months in the Underworld with Hades,” Zeus said.

From then on, Persephone visited her mother every spring and summer. During this time the
Earth was fertile and fruitful. The rest of the year, when Persephone was with Hades,
Demeter’s depression caused the Earth to fall into winter again.

1
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Compare and Contrast
Fictional Stories: Persephone
How I Became the Queen of the Underworld

I never wanted to displease Mother. I just wanted the freedom to explore some new worlds
and meet new people. When Mother told me that I couldn’t go to pick that year’s crop of
narcissus flowers in the valley by myself, that was the last straw.

Mother had always been generous in her service to Mankind, giving them the gift of the
harvest, but she often failed to recognize the wishes of her only daughter. All I wanted was
to find my own way to be useful to Mankind, but I was cramped up in stuffy Mount Olym-
pus.

I decided to take matters into my own hands, so I went out alone to the Valley of the Nar-
cissus. There I met Hades, god of the Underworld. He told me all about the important job
he held caring for the eternal souls of the Dead.

“I need a likeable queen to help me convene with the Dead, someone who can listen
carefully to them and inspire them to make the Underworld their new home,” Hades said.
“Otherwise, they will want to go back to Earth and haunt Mankind, and Zeus will be very
displeased.”

Hades looked at me intently. The thought of holding a very important position that would
impact Mankind thrilled me! However, I knew it would anger Mother.

“How about you try it for a little while, and if you don’t like it we will find a way to bring you
back to Mount Olympus,” he said.

“If Mother doesn’t find a way first,” I said.

We smiled at each other and made our way down to the Underworld. For the next six
months, I heard the Dead’s complaints about the Underworld. I took notes and together
with Hades we made a 10-point plan for making the Underworld a better place to spend
eternity. The amount of hauntings on Earth dropped by 78%. I was loving my new job, but I
also missed Mother.

One day, we received word that Zeus commanded our return to Mount Olympus for a
court hearing. Hades was being accused of kidnapping me! While I hoped to dispel this
terrible myth, I also worried if we left I would never be able to return.

“The pomegranate is the official fruit of the Underworld,” Hades said. “If you eat it, you
must return for at least half of the year. All the gods and goddesses know that.”

“You mean mother will be forced to recognize my role here with you and allow me to
come back?” I asked.

2
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Compare and Contrast
Fictional Stories: Persephone

“Yes,” said Hades. With that, I gobbled up a handful of the delicious pomegranate seeds
and we made our way back to Mount Olympus.

There I explained to Mother and Zeus that Hades had not kidnapped me, and explained
my important work to them. To further illustrate how I felt, I told them about eating the
pomegranate seeds. Mother was distraught, swearing that she would take the harvest
away from Mankind forever.

“Mother, aren’t you even a little proud of me?” I asked.

Her eyes welled up with tears. “Of course I am. It’s just...I miss you.”

Then, Zeus raised his hand to speak:

“It is decreed: Persephone will spend 6 months of the year ruling the Underworld by Hades’
side and another 6 months helping Demeter with the harvest season.”

Mother and I embraced and I let out a sigh of relief. Finally, I had found my own way to
give to Mankind, and also be with my family.

And that’s how I became Queen of the Underworld.

3
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Compare and Contrast
Fictional Stories: Persephone
Now, it’s time to compare and contrast these two stories! Fill out the compare and con-
trast diagram below with details from the text.

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Title Both: Title
1. 1. 1.
2. 2. 2.
3. 3. 3.
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Name:_______________________________ Date:____________________

Comparing Two Stories


Directions: Read the two stories below. Then complete the graphic organizer.

Story 1 Story 2

Pierre changed into his track clothes and Francesca was the best swimmer on the
laced up his shoes. He left the locker room to team. She swam the fastest. She swam long
meet the rest of the kids outside on the field. distances. She was chosen as the captain for
It was the first day of track tryouts. The coach this season. All the other girls wanted to be
walked up and greeted the athletes. like Francesca.
“I see you are all interested in being on The biggest race of the season was this
Town Creek Middle School’s track team,” the Friday. The whole school was excited. The
coach stated. “Let’s see if you have what it team would race against Leeward Middle, the
takes.” school’s rival team. Every year the schools
The boys began to complete the tryout compete against each other. The winner gets
drills. The coach wanted to see who could run a special trophy.
the farthest, who could run the longest, and Francesca was always nervous in the days
who could run the fastest. Pierre liked to run before the big race. She had a hard time
and he knew he was talented, but he didn't eating. She couldn’t sleep. It was hard to
know how well the other boys ran. Would he focus in class. All she could think about was
be good enough to make the team? how she would beat the other team.
Each time it was Pierre’s turn to run, he On Wednesday, Francesca realized that she
began shaking and it was hard to breathe. He really wasn’t feeling right. This was more than
was so nervous! The coach realized Pierre just being nervous and excited. She visited
was panicking and pulled him aside. He put the school nurse who took her temperature
his hand on his shoulder and spoke calmly to and checked her throat. The nurse called
Pierre. Francesca’s mom and sent her home from
“Pierre, I’ve seen your running skills. You school early.
have no reason to be nervous! Take a deep Francesca was devastated. She was so
breath and join this group. You’ve got this! I upset that she came down with a cold right
know you can do it,” he said. before her big race. The trophy meant so
Taking a deep breath, Pierre lined up with much for her school. What if she could not
the other boys. As soon as the whistle blew, compete? Would her team stand a chance?
he took off running. His arms and legs moved The next morning, Francesca woke up
faster than they ever had before. He con- feeling better. Her mom kept her home from
trolled his breathing and stayed focused on school so she could rest more.
the finish line. Sweat dripped down his fore- On Friday after school, Francesca and her
head as he used every muscle in his body to teammates raced at the swim meet. Her
win the race. Pierre knew he had won first team won in every event at the meet. Fran-
place. cesca even set a school record! All of Frances-
Inside, Pierre was grinning from ear to ear. ca’s rest from being sick had paid off to help
He had successfully turned his first day jitters her achieve and lead her team to victory.
into the fuel that helped him win the race and
make the team.

Copyright © 2017 Education.com LLC All Rights Reserved


More worksheets at www.education.com/worksheets

Get more lesson plans at https://www.education.com/lesson-plans/


Name:_______________________________ Date:____________________

Comparing Two Stories


Directions: Read the two stories below. Then complete the graphic organizer.

Story 1 Story 2

Characters

Pierre is at track team tryouts at


Setting the middle school.

Problem

Francesca has to go home sick


Events from school and rest. She sleeps
off the sickness.

Solution

Theme

Copyright © 2017 Education.com LLC All Rights Reserved


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Get more lesson plans at https://www.education.com/lesson-plans/

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