First grade students are still just learning how to read and comprehend written stories, so it is important to guide them through the process of thinking about stories by using activities that require them to compare stories to one another. When teaching story comparison, incorporate activities that allow students to interact with the material through dramatic interpretation, intercultural perspectives and open discussions.

Plot Pictures

Explain to the class that every story has a beginning, a middle and an end, and then ask students to talk about those parts of stories they already know. Next, read two stories to the class. After each story, lead a discussion about its plot. Pass out sheets of plain paper and have your students fold their papers in half, lengthwise. Instruct them to draw six pictures: three on the top half that represent the beginning, middle and end of the first story, and then three on the bottom half for the second story. After they've finished, discuss any similarities between the parts of each story. For example, ask if the main character wanted anything in the beginning and then achieved his or her goal in the end.

Character Cartography

Another way to have your first graders compare two stories is to compare main characters by making character maps or diagrams. After reading two different stories, pass out two sheets of paper to every student. Have your students draw pictures of the main characters from the stories they've just read, and explain that they don't have to attempt to recreate the illustrations in either book; they can use their imaginations. Once they've drawn their pictures, have them label each by writing down what each character looks like, what he or she likes, how he or she behaves toward others and how the character changes throughout the story.

Cultural Comparisons

Another way to help your students learn to compare two stories is to read them different versions of the same story, and then guide them through a discussion of the similarities and differences -- or have them write about them. Read alternate versions of the Cinderella story to the class, such as "The Egyptian Cinderella," by Shirley Climo and "Yeh-Shen," the Chinese version of the folktale retold by Ai-Ling Louie. After the readings, discuss how each story differs from the others. Ask them specific questions, such as which stories they liked best and if they found anything surprising in certain versions of the story.

Dramatic Mash-Ups

After reading two different stories to your students, split the class into groups and explain that each group will act out a scene from one of the stories but with the main character from the other story playing the lead role. For example, if you read "Winnie-the Pooh" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," you can have one group act out the scene from "Winnie-the Pooh" in which Pooh is stuck in Rabbit's hole but with The Grinch in the place of Pooh. Your students will get to see how characters' personalities shape stories while having fun mashing up the tales.

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