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  • Science
    --Life Sciences


  • 3-5

Brief Description

Students learn basic facts about giant and lesser pandas, then categorize same or differing characteristics onto an online Venn diagram.


Students will
  • Compare and contrast two species' characteristics.
  • Complete a Venn diagram.
  • Practice Web browser navigation skills, including moving from one window to another


Venn diagram, comparison contrast, same or different

Materials Needed

  • Student access to a computer
  • Internet access
  • Printer access
  • Paper and pen/pencil

Lesson Plan

Teaching students to identify similar or different concepts can be challenging. Why not use online resources and tools to make learning about comparing and contrasting fun? This activity can be a whole class, small group, or individual assignment. Let the panda-monium begin!

Discuss with students how to compare and contrast two topics. Ask them to compare and contrast items they are familiar with -- pizza served in the school cafeteria versus a popular delivery service pizza, for example. Ask: What's the same? What's different? Make lists of the characteristics students mention and label them "the same" or "different."

Draw a Venn diagram on the chalkboard. (See 2-Circle Venn Diagram if you need a refresher.) Copy the characteristics of the two pizzas into the diagram: Characteristics of the school pizza go in one circle; characteristics of the delivery service pizza go in the other circle; characteristics both pizzas share go in the area of the circles that intersect.) Discuss the diagram with students.

Tell students they are going to learn about a kind of panda that many of them might not had known existed, the lesser panda. Explain that they then will compare and contrast the lesser panda and the giant panda.

Walk students through the steps below. (Note: This also can be demonstrated by a teacher at a single computer that is displayed via projector or TV monitor to the entire class.)

  • Open the Internet.
  • Go to Globio's Wolong Nature Reserve, the home of both lesser and giant pandas.
  • Click File>New>Window to open another window. (This works in Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, or Safari.)
  • Go to Education World's 2-Circle Venn Diagram.
  • For Project Title, type "Giant and Lesser Pandas: Same or Different?"
  • Type your (student's) name in the By blank.
  • Type Giant Panda in the circle one field and Lesser Panda in the circle two field.
  • Click Next.
  • Do NOT close the Venn diagram window, but do go back to the Wolong Nature Reserve window.
  • The first characteristic to compare or contrast is where the pandas live. Read the first paragraph on the page to find out where giant and lesser pandas live.
  • Go back to the Venn diagram window (without closing the Wolong Nature Reserve window), and type Habitat in the Concept blank. Type "China's forests in the mountains" in the description blank.
  • Find the thick orange line under the Concept blank. Drop and drag that line, which will move the word Habitat, into the mauve/tan section of the diagram where the two circles intersect.
  • Repeat the previous two steps for each of the following characteristics: Endangered Status and Food. (Be sure to drag and drop results for both characteristics into the appropriate area of the diagram.
  • Click the link for lesser pandas found underneath the last picture on the Wolong Nature Reserve page and read about lesser pandas. Then click the More Lesser Panda Facts link at the bottom of the second page.
  • On notebook paper or an index card, write down facts about lesser pandas' size, color, lifestyle, lifespan, and threats.
  • On the left side of the lesser panda facts page, click Giant Pandas, and then click More Giant Panda Facts. Compare the facts about size, color, lifestyle, lifespan, and threats for giant pandas with those for lesser pandas.
  • Return to the panda Venn diagram and add the five new concepts and descriptions for both kinds of panda. (Drag the concepts to the giant panda, lesser panda, or intersecting circle.)
  • Click Finish and Print (You must print the Venn diagram; it will not be saved online.)
When their diagrams are complete, have students turn them in for a daily grade. Discuss the assignment with the entire class. Ask: What did you learn about pandas? What was fun, easy, hardabout the activity?


Students will be assessed on their
  • Understanding of comparison/contrast, as evidenced by their completed Venn diagrams.
  • Reading comprehension, as evidenced by the accuracy and thoroughness of the list of concepts in their diagrams.
  • Web browser skills, as evidenced by their ability to work with two windows at the same time.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lorrie Jackson

National Standards

NS.K-4.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.K-4.3 Life Science
GRADES 5 - 8
NS.5-8.1 Science as Inquiry
NS.5-8.3 Life Science