Skip to Main Content / Passer au contenu

Resource Library

Resource Library  |  Learning Strategies  |  K to 3, Grades 4 to 6, Grades 7 to 9, Grades 10 to 12

What Is The Same? What Is Different?

Above Image: Two hands hold out leaves from two different tomato plants

What is it?

A What Is The Same? What is Different? learning strategy is used to assist students in developing the skills of observing and comparing/contrasting objects, events or places that they explore through direct observation and/or research.

Why use it?

  • To provide students the opportunity to establish criteria that will help them focus their observations in order to learn about objects, events or places in the natural world and human-made environments.
  • To help students focus their observations based on pre-established criteria in order to compare and contrast similarities and differences about objects, events or places.

How do I use it?

  • Before using this strategy, introduce its purpose to the students and provide a structured example to teach and model expected behaviours (see the What is the Same? What is Different Exemplar).
  • Model this strategy with the whole class using two objects, events or places with which students may or may not have familiarity with.
  • Ask students to think about what they already know about the objects, events or places.
  • Assist students with establishing the criteria that they will use to focus their observations on (e.g., colour, size, shape, texture, etc.).
  • Provide students with the opportunity to make observations based on predetermined criteria and decide for each object, event or place whether what they observe is the same as or different from the other object, event or place. g., Plant seed “A” and Plant seed “B”. The predetermined criterion is seed colour. Observations are made of both seeds. Seed A and Seed B observed to both be brown, thus for the criteria colour they would record in the What is the Same? column students would record their observation “brown”.
  • Students would continue to make observations based on the other predetermined criteria and record their observations in the appropriate columns.
  • Students can then use their observations to compare and contrast similarities and differences between the objects, events or places about which they were making observations.

Tips for success

  • Students new to this strategy can practice using concrete objects first and then move to using representations of objects, events or places.


  • Students can make sketches or take pictures to represent their observations.
  • Students could be encouraged to determine criteria that are both qualitative and quantitative in nature and thus require students to take measurements, e.g. heights of plants, sizes of seeds, etc.
  • The chart could be used to record daily observations of one predetermined criteria, e.g. height of plants, e.g., Day 1, Day 2 … Day 10 in the left-hand Criteria column.

Tools and Templates

What is the Same? What is Different? - Seed Investigation pdfdoc

What is the Same? What is Different? - Template pdfdoc

What is the Same? What is Different? - Exemplar pdf