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Same and different

It is vital that students learn to think about what makes things the same and what makes them different.

When comparing and contrasting, students are likely to be:

  • noticing and describing
  • explaining and justifying
  • thinking analytically
  • finding relationships
  • using logic
  • focussing on important features.

For example, ask your students to compare and contrast these two images of clocks.

Close up of the top of an analogue clock, showing time as five seconds past twelve.

Source: Grant Cochrane/Freedigitalphotos.net

Full face of an analogue clock, showing time as two minutes to twelve.

Source: graur razvan ionut/Freedigitalphotos.net

You can download Compare and Contrast: Content Descriptions which gives ideas for each year level, with sample content descriptions.


How things vary and the idea of classification are important concepts in mathematics.

Noticing and comparing properties of shapes

A good understanding of shape depends on noticing differences in properties.

Imagining missing elements

An important aspect of reasoning in mathematics is to find missing elements.