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Compare and Contrast: Settings

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Basics on the topic Compare and Contrast: Settings

Why do we Compare and Contrast Settings?

Every story is anchored in its setting, which sets the tone, influences characters and drives the plot forward. For instance, baking cookies in a kitchen can evoke a myriad of memories and emotions depending on the setting's time and context.

Elements that Constitute a Setting – Examples

From the physical environment to the time of day, understanding what makes up a setting is crucial. For instance, a present-day kitchen might have modern amenities, whilst one in the past might have a rustic charm.

Keep the steps below in mind when you want to compare and contrast settings:

  • 1 Identifying Settings: Begin by clearly defining the settings you want to compare. For instance, one could be a modern kitchen and the other a kitchen from the past.

  • 2 Using Tools to Organise: A graphic organiser can help highlight similarities and differences between the settings. Central activities that remain consistent across both settings can be placed in the middle. Look at the example below:


  • 3 Determining Attributes: What elements will you look at? Consider aspects such as the time, characters present, their emotional states and the physical descriptions of each setting.

Compare and Contrast Settings – Conclusion

The art of comparing and contrasting settings goes beyond merely identifying differences. It's about understanding how these settings influence narratives, drive character development and shape the overall storytelling experience.

Remember to follow the steps below to successfully compare and contrast settings.

Step # What to do
1 Identify elements that make up the setting.
2 Use tools to categorise the elements.
3 Determine attributes of the setting elements and draw comparisons.

Now you are ready to practise comparing and contrasting settings in stories with ease. Feel free to watch our videos explaining how to compare and contrast settings and do not forget to complete compare and contrast settings worksheets!

Compare and Contrast Settings – Frequently Asked Questions

Why is setting crucial in a story?
How can a graphic organiser aid in comparing settings?
Can the same setting evoke different emotions in different characters?
What elements are crucial when contrasting settings?
Why might two similar settings, like kitchens, feel entirely different in a story?
How do various settings affect the pacing of a story?

Transcript Compare and Contrast: Settings

Compare and Contrast: Settings "What's wrong!?" "Nothing it's just, my Grandma and I used to make cookies together. I would always try and remember all of the ingredients when we made them, and she would always say,'you're a smart cookie!'." Ari is remembering a time when they made cookies in a different setting. The setting is WHERE and WHEN the story takes place.

The setting of a story can change the MOOD or TONE, which can affect the emotions or opinions of the reader. Stories often have more than one setting. Let's compare and contrast each setting using THIS comparison chart. HERE we label the first setting, Ari's kitchen. HERE we label the second setting, Grandma's kitchen. Next, label the middle section BOTH, since we will use it to record what each setting has in common. Now let's look at the settings again and think: how are they alike? Both settings involve Ari making cookies in a kitchen, so we record this under BOTH. Now think: how are they different? The first setting in Ari's kitchen takes place in the present, so record that here. The second setting, Grandma's kitchen, takes place in the past, which we record here. Also, Grandma appears in her kitchen, but not in Ari's, so we note that here. Let's also include Zayd in Ari's kitchen, but not Grandma's, HERE. What do you notice about the mood of each setting and why? The mood in Ari's kitchen is a little bit sad because they are remembering their Grandma. You may also notice that the illustration is a little dark and gloomy, and Ari's facial expression is sad, so we record sad, dark, and gloomy under Ari's kitchen. The mood in Grandma's kitchen is happy, because Ari is having fun baking cookies with her. You may also notice that the illustration is bright, and Ari's facial expression looks happy, so we record bright and happy under Grandma's kitchen. Are there any other details in the settings that are different? Ari's kitchen does not have an oven, but Grandma's does, so we record 'no oven' under Ari's kitchen and 'oven' under Grandma's kitchen. Wait, if Ari's kitchen doesn't have an oven how will they bake the cookies? Before we find out, let's summarise. Remember, a setting is where and when a story takes place. The setting can change the mood or tone of a story. Stories often have more than one setting, and we can compare and contrast different settings using a comparison chart. First, label the settings on each side, and label the middle BOTH. Next look at the the settings again and think: 'how are they alike?' and record it under BOTH. Finally, look at the the settings again and think: 'how are they different?' and record it under each setting. "Alright, the cookie dough is finished, but how are we going to bake them?" "Don't you worry, I've got it covered!" "Zayd, WAIT!" "Oh no, Ari I'm so sorry!" "Perfect! They're nice and burnt just the way Grandma always made them! She would be so proud!"

Compare and Contrast: Settings exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learnt? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Compare and Contrast: Settings.
  • Which mood matches each setting?


    Sunrises make people feel calm.

    Bike riding is quite the adventure!


    The mood scary matches the setting with monsters in the bedroom.

    The mood fun matches the setting with the mouse holding a glow stick, chips and wearing sunglasses.

    The mood adventurous matches the setting with a cyclist ready to explore the mountains.

    The mood calm matches the setting with the hills and the sun coming up.

  • How can we compare settings?


    Only one of the options will help answer these questions.

    Look for an organiser where things can be put into different groups but also the same group.


    A Venn Diagram can be used to compare and contrast.

    The overlapping area in the middle is where you compare the similarities.

    The two outside sections are where you contrast the differences.

  • What are the two main focuses when comparing and contrasting settings?


    We want to compare the time of the action from the two settings.

    We want to compare the place of the two settings.


    The two most important questions to ask when comparing and contrasting settings are:

    • When?
    • Where?

  • Compare and contrast two settings.


    When thinking about the setting, always ask yourself where and when the story takes place.

    What do you wear when the sun is out?


    Here in this top picture, I was at the beach, but in the bottom picture, I was at the hotel. On the beach, I had to wear sunglasses because the sun was so bright!

    When I was in the hotel it was night time. I didn't need my sunglasses here! In both places, I was with my friend Ari. We had a great trip!

  • What do we ask when comparing settings?


    The overlapping area looks at what both settings have in common.

    We need to ask questions that help us to compare and contrast the settings.


    The two questions that would help us to compare the two settings are:

    • What is similar?
    • What is different?

  • Compare and contrast two settings.


    A similarity is when both things being compared are close to being the same.

    A difference is when both things being compared are not the same.

    • These two images are similar because they both take place in the forest.
    • Both show a group of animal friends spending time together.
    • One of the differences is the time of day, as one is a scene at night and the other is a scene during the day.
    • Without knowing what the characters are saying or doing, we cannot say if the mood of the setting is similar or different.