Venn Diagrams are one of the most visual approaches to showing students the logical relationships between sets and connectivity of data. It uses overlapping circles to show the wholeness of data and then where they overlap other data sets. It’s easy to find templates for them–in MS Office, Google Apps, Canva, and more.
One of our Ask a Tech Teacher crew has organized the basics on how to teach Venn Diagrams to elementary-age students:
- What is a Venn Diagram
- How to make it digitally
- How to make it clear to elementary students (get crafty)
- How to use it to design games
Teaching children Venn diagrams is the beginning of teaching them how to sort and manage data, a skill that is becoming ever more useful in this technological era. However, finding a way to teach them that sticks is important – generic worksheets just won’t do! We’ve come up with a few ways you can teach elementary school students Venn diagrams that will make your lessons dynamic and fun.
What is a Venn Diagram?
It’s important to make sure you first understand what a Venn diagram is. A Venn diagram is a plot of overlapping circles that can display items via specific categories, as well as relationships. For example, you can have a Venn diagram representing blue eyes with one circle, and brown hair with another circle. Those with blue eyes but not brown hair will end up in only the segment for blue eyes; those with brown hair but not blue eyes will be placed only in the segment for brown hair. Those with blue eyes and brown hair will be placed in the segment created by the overlap of the two circles.
This is a fun concept to teach to children because it’s a visual method, so it isn’t difficult to find something both visual and interactive to make sure it’s memorable. Now for the methods!
Make it Digital
With technology becoming the main focus of life, especially for the younger generation, one of the best ways to connect and share ideas is through technology. This means using digital tools and accessing an online venn diagram can be incredibly helpful for many reasons. Firstly, it allows you to project what you’re describing on your smartboard or interactive whiteboard, allowing you to demonstrate to the class what you mean. It makes a good start!
The benefit of having an online Venn diagram tool however is that you can share it with the students. Not only can they view it with your help in class, but they can go home and interact with it there, whether that’s for homework or simply for some extra time to understand and make sense of the concept. You could even set online tasks for them to complete! The possibilities are endless.
Another great way to teach Venn diagrams to elementary school students is to use some arts and crafts to make it interactive. Venn diagrams are a concept that can be applied to many different domains, giving students the ability to apply it to their own life. You might ask them to create their own Venn diagram based on class features, or perhaps something related to their interests, whether that’s pop culture references or the latest movies.
You can take it further than drawing though – you could ask them to make their own small model or display with tape. This is particularly good as an activity where you might change the categories – you can create some counters representing specific people that move dependent on when the categories change.
This also works as a great group activity. Putting children into groups and asking them to create their own Venn diagram with paper, glue, and fun colorful bits is a great way to get them excited about the topic, and also apply their own situation to the topic.
Play Some Games
There’s nothing that perks up a classroom more than the phrase “let’s play a game”! Venn diagrams are one of the best topics for designing games, as you can make them super interactive for the students.
One of our favorite games is to create a big space in your classroom and to use tape to plot out two big circles. These will act as your Venn diagram for the children to themselves interact with. Start by explaining the basics of a Venn diagram, and then have rounds where you label the two circles and ask the children to fit into the part of the diagram they belong to.
For example, you may have one circle for children who like bananas, and one circle for children who like strawberries. They should fit into the appropriate space regarding whether they like just bananas, just strawberries, both fruits, or neither. This is not only a good way to make Venn diagrams fun, but it’s also a good way to identify children who may be struggling with the concept and need extra support.
With these three ideas, you’ll find that teaching Venn Diagrams is not only simple but can be really fun. You’ll for sure create a lesson your students won’t forget any time soon!
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.