Compare and Contrast Themes Across Cultures

Compare and Contrast Themes and Topics Across Cultures

Are you looking for a detailed lesson to teach RL.4.9? You’re in luck. This lesson provides activities, handouts, and a video to teach how to compare and contrast themes and topics across cultures. You will have your lesson plan written in no time, and you can spend your evening doing family activities. YEAH!

Compare and Contrast Themes Across Cultures Lesson Plan

Before we begin, you will want to grab the handout. It includes all activities that you will need to complete this lesson.

Activity 1: Discovering the World of Stories Lesson Hook

To set the stage, begin by displaying a world map and introducing the purpose of the activity. Tell the students that this lesson focuses on identifying story similarities and differences, aligning with the RL.4.9 standard.

Each student is given a small square piece of paper containing a story title, origin, and sentence summary. The handout includes 36 stories, tales, and myths for this activity.

Students will attach this piece of paper to the location of the story’s origin on the map. This visual representation helps students get a sense of global awareness and interconnectedness.

Activity 2: Unveiling the Power of Stories

Compare and Contrast Themes Across Cultures Lesson Plan

In this part of the lesson, students engage with a lesson video that introduces the concept of stories, myths, and traditional literature.

They learn stories encompass various narrative forms, such as books, movies, oral storytelling, and digital media. The video explains that myths are stories that explain aspects of the world or gods, often involving magic or supernatural beings. Traditional literature, on the other hand, refers to stories passed down through generations by word of mouth.


Students explore common patterns of events, or plots, found across different stories. Examples include:

  • Rags to Riches 
  • The Hero’s Journey/Voyage and Return
  • Tragedy
  • Overcoming the Monster
  • The Quest
  • Love and Romance
  • Rebirth/Transformation

Students can recognize recurring themes and motifs in stories from various cultures by understanding these patterns.

Compare and Contrast Themes Across Cultures
Play Video about Compare and Contrast Themes Across Cultures

Activities 3 and 4: Analyzing Story Elements

The Sword in the Stone vs. The Adventures of Robin Hood

Students analyze two assigned stories using a provided T-chart to delve deeper into the stories. Students will enjoy reading the high-interest stories:

The Sword in the Stone vs. The Adventures of Robin Hood

They answer questions about the main message or lesson, character traits, settings, patterns of events, opposing forces, cultural elements, genre, challenges the main character faces, storytelling techniques, and more. This analytical approach allows students to dissect the narratives and identify their unique characteristics.

Activity 5: Comparing and Contrasting with a Venn Diagram

Comparing and Contrasting with a Venn Diagram

Students organize the information gathered from their T-charts using a Venn diagram. This visual tool enables them to compare and contrast the two stories effectively. They identify shared elements and differences in themes, characters, settings, and storytelling techniques. The Venn diagram is a valuable reference for students to visualize the story’s connections and distinctions.

Activity 6: Engaging in Creative Expression

Engaging in Creative Expression

In this follow-up to the hook activity, students choose one pair of stories from different cultures and express their findings through a compare-and-contrast essay or a visual presentation. This activity encourages critical thinking, research skills, and creativity. Students can highlight the similarities and differences in treating themes and events, showcasing their understanding of RL.4.9.

Activity 7: Stories Swap for Cultural Exchange

Students are encouraged to bring a story from their culture to foster cultural awareness and understanding. They pair up with classmates from different backgrounds and swap stories. This activity promotes empathy and respect as students learn about each other’s cultures and perspectives. By analyzing and comparing different tales, students develop their critical thinking skills and gain insights into how cultures approach similar themes and topics.


This lesson meets the RL.4.9 standard and encourages students to appreciate the richness of diverse narratives and develop empathy for different cultures.

Through activities such as analyzing story elements, organizing information in graphic organizers, and engaging in creative expression, students develop critical thinking skills, research abilities, and the ability to articulate their findings effectively. By comparing and contrasting stories, they uncover universal themes and recognize the distinct ways cultures address them.

If you didn’t get the handout to start this lesson on global narratives, you can grab it using the link below.

See all three posts in this series. 

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Compare and Contrast Themes and Topics Across Cultures

Compare and Contrast Themes and Topics Across Cultures contains 15 activities to practice RL. 4.9 using animated shorts, short stories, poems, and dramas. Students will enjoy practicing this skill with The Twelve Labors of Hercules, Thor’s Journey to the Land of the Giants, William Tell, and more.

Gay Miller

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