Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Classic Post: Teaching Similarities and Differences: Bats & Owls—with FREE Download

This is a guest blog post from Susanna Westby of   Whimsy Workshop  that originally ran in February 2014, and it includes a FREE download with worksheets! See the bottom of the post for the link to download, and check back frequently for more great classroom-tested ideas! If you'd like to see her other contributions to this blog, click here !

Hello again! I’m Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching, and today I’m sharing some examples of how I use books from the   Zoozoo Animal World   to teach similarities and differences. The books we used were Bat   and Owl   by Lee Waters.


My key concepts for these lessons were difference and similarities of animals that live in different biomes. In this case, we compared a forest owl and a rainforest bat to see if we could find some similarities despite living in a different environment.


As we read through each story as a whole group, we took note of different animal characteristics, similarities and differences. We projected the images so that we could read together and notice many of the detail in the wonderful photographs.


We identified relevant vocabulary words by circling or underlining on the board, as shown.

Students also love to trace the words that are projected to see if they can make them look “perfect”; everyone wants a turn at this, and they love to read it once we turn the projector off!

Our next task is to organize our findings. We make two lists: one for each animal containing the things we’ve noticed about each. During this time, we also make good use of the “Talking Points” section of both books, which has a lot of interesting information. Students noted information from both the text and the pictures. Here are a few examples:

  • Bat and owls both fly.
  • Owls are birds, but bats are mammals.
  • Bats and owls both live in the forest.
  • Bats and owls both have wings.
  • Bats and owls are both nocturnal.

Once we’re done, students go back to their desks to complete a Venn Diagram to compare/contrast the bat and owl (this is available for download at the bottom of the page). They are repeatedly reading and discussing the pictures from the book, and the information we’ve collected on the board as they decide which points to include in their own diagram.

Students love to share their work using a document camera so the whole class can see!


I have been teaching primary grades for 20 years. My classroom is a place of hands-on, creative learning where students feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them! I live near Vancouver, BC Canada with my music-teacher husband and two teenage boys. More literacy ideas and graphics can be found on my blog,  Whimsy Workshop Teaching .


Download your free "Bat and Owl" comparison sheet by clicking the worksheet image below! For more information on the Zoozoo Animal World series,   click here to visit our website , or click the image on the right to download a series information sheet with highlights and key features.