Differences and similarities

Lesson objective

  • To encourage students to describe the use of animal body parts for particular purposes such as moving and feeding.
  • To allow students to research ideas collaboratively using web pages and ICT within the classroom.
  • To introduce students to a Venn diagram to compare animals based on easily observable characteristics with teacher guidance.
Students will have the opportunity to:
  • explore and make observations about a range of animals
  • discuss the different purposes of a range of external features
  • explore the differences and similarities between a range of animals.

Setting the context

Students will understand that different animals look different, move differently and even eat different things, but may not have consciously linked these characteristics to survival of each of these creatures. In this lesson, students will explore the purpose of a range of external features of different types of animals using the internet. Students will then consolidate this knowledge to compare and contrast two animals using a Venn diagram.

Lesson focus

The focus of this lesson is to spark students’ interest, stimulate their curiosity, raise questions for inquiry and gain an understanding about the external features of a range of familiar animals. These existing ideas can then be taken account of in future lessons.


Review with students the class science journal and worksheet from the last lesson. Remind students that animals have many different parts, and we call these parts ‘features’. Ask students if they can recall some of the features they discussed in the previous lesson.

Body of lesson

  1. Allow students to visit the ABC Splash website Skin and scales, feathers and fur, or visit it as a whole class. Chapters 2 – 10 feature short videos of a range of animals and their unique features. Ask students to select four of the videos to watch.
  2. Ask students to complete the worksheet Skin and scales, feathers and fur, using the videos they have watched for ideas.
  3. Explain to students they are going to compare two of the animals from their Skin and scales, feathers and fur worksheet to investigate their similarities and differences. Tell students they will be using a Venn diagram to help them compare these animals. Explain that a Venn diagram is a type of scientific diagram that can be used to explore the differences and similarities between two things.
  4. Ask students to select two of the animals from their Skin and scales, feathers and fur worksheet and complete the worksheet What do we have in common? Ask students to place the features that are similar (e.g. eyes) in the intersecting space and features that are unique to each animal in the corresponding circle (e.g. fins, feathers, fur etc).


Ask students to share their Venn diagrams with the class. Record a collection of unique features under a heading for each animal in the class science journal. Discuss with students how they think each of these unique features helps the animal to survive.


Useful books

The Workboot Series — The Story of Wool (Kondinin Group)