Graphic organizers help develop categorization and critical thinking skills in a variety of subjects. The Venn diagram is a graphic organizer that consists of two or three overlapping circles with space for notes about similarities and differences between two or three items or concepts. In a two-circle diagram, the majority of each circle contains notes about unique characteristics, while the overlapping center contains notes about traits the two items share in common. In a three-circle diagram, traits shared between two ideas can be noted in addition to characteristics shared by all three concepts.

Language Arts Activities

In teaching reading comprehension, a Venn diagram can be used to help students understand characterization. For example, using a two-circle Venn diagram, students can label one circle for each character in a story. They can list traits unique to each character in the larger portion of the circles and list traits common to both characters in the overlapping portion.

Math Activities

Graphic organizers can help students understand math concepts. Younger students can categorize numbers in two sections. For example, you might ask students to list multiples of three in one circle and prime numbers in a second circle; numbers that are both divisible by three and prime fill the overlapping center. At the high school level, you might ask students in a geometry class to use a three-circle Venn diagram to find similarities and differences between right, scalene and isosceles triangles.

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