Making Comparisons

By Activity Bank on Oct 23, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Charlotte Cushman and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

By recognizing how things are alike or different, students can learn how to arrange their world. This activity helps students to develop classification skills, improve descriptive skills using various attributes, and identify qualities which are the same and qualities which are different. Lessons include Concept Development, English Language Arts, and Independent Living Skills.


No special materials required; if possible, real objects to compare and contrast.


Name two items and ask the student to tell how the items are alike and how they are different. For example, for a cow and a dog:

  • How are they alike?
    • Both are animals.
    • Both have four legs.
  • How are they different?
    • A cow gives milk.
    • They make different sounds.
    • A dog could live in your house.

Try some of the following comparisons:

  • Soda, milk
  • Hat, mittens
  • Watch, clock
  • Train, airplane
  • Spoon, fork
  • Horn, whistle
  • Bathtub, sink
  • Mug, cup
  • Horse, sheep
  • Whale, goldfish
  • Sneakers, boots
  • Towel, washcloth
  • Pen, pencil
  • Tulip, daisy

Encourage students to compare and discuss as many different attributes as possible – size, texture, shape, habitat, sound.


Use real objects so that students can feel some of the differences. This can also increase the variety. For example, show students two hats, one of which is a wool hat, the other of which is a baseball cap.

Hint: Throughout the day, discuss how things are alike and different. “Look, Sean, we’re both wearing long pants with pockets. Mine are made of wool, and yours are made of corduroy. Mine have a snap and a zipper. Yours have a stretchy elastic waistband.”