Thursday, May 28, 2015

Compare and contrast five of the world's major religions

published on: 5/29/2009

Contributing Teacher(s): Mary Grossnickle

Subject Area: Social Studies/World History

Grade Range: High School (9-12)

Materials Needed:

  • Computer
  • Library books
  • Worksheet to complete with questions regarding one religion;
  • Information charts
  • Venn diagrams
  • Overhead with transparency (unless able to use technological tools like Airliner)
  • PowerPoint interactive quiz
  • LCD projector


  1. Students will compare and contrast components (beliefs, texts, etc.) of the world's major religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Essential Question:

  1. How are the religions of the world different?
  2. How are these religions alike?

Instructional Strategy: Identify similarities and differences

Process Standards:

  • Goal 1.2 conduct research to answer questions and evaluate information and ideas
  • Goal 1.4 use technological tools and other resources to locate, select and organize information
  • Goal 1.8 organize data, information and ideas into useful forms (including charts, graphs, outlines)

Content Standards:

  • Social Studies 6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions
  • Social Studies 7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

    Time Allowance: one - two weeks -- the time factor depends upon how much detail the teacher wishes to introduce

    Technological Resources:

    PowerPoint interactive quiz, "World Religions"

    After finding information regarding one religion, a student can create a diary entry titled "One Day in the Life of a ___" with the name of the religion's follower in the blank (Hindu/Buddhist/etc.) In the entry, the writer identifies what transpired from the time the follower woke in the morning until retiring for the night.

    Depending upon the indiviudal student, you may pair students to work as a team to find information regarding one religion. One student finds the information and the other writes the information on the worksheet. This team works together through the entire unit. Another may be to have students find pictures for each religion of: a follower, the place to worship, the sacred text, the country where they began. Have them take these pictures and glue the pictures to their chart.

    Students will write an essay that compares and contrasts the major ideas and beliefs of three of the world's major religions. Use the rubric as your guide. (The rubric is uploaded in Add Files.) Assessment Extension: Compare and contrast the major ideas and beliefs of the five major religions of the world. Use the rubric as your guide. Assessment Differentiated: Teacher provides statements of like and different factors. The student should identify which religion is associated with the statement. For example: The statement might read "does not eat pork." The student will be asked (orally or written) which religion does this statement pertain to? The answer would be Judaism and Islam. That is a comparison. Ask the student if there is a religion that does not eat pork? The answer would be Christianity (Hinduism and Buddhism may not or may not be used as the answer; most followers are vegetarians).

    Description: The major component of this unit is to find and share information regarding religions which originated in Asia (Hinduism and Buddhism) and the religions which originated in the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). This lesson allows for self-directed learning as students become explorers to search for information regarding one religion assigned to them by the teacher. Students become producers of knowledge and communicators as they share their information in a small group setting. This small group allows students to complete an informational chart to have the basic ideas. Students then work with Venn diagrams to compare and constrast the religions. The class comes together to review the information and the teacher leads them through a discussion identifying the similarities and differences they find using their informational charts and diagrams. This unit can incorporate social studies, history, and English skills. This unit was planned for a sophomore world history class.

    Classroom Component:

    Introduction: Introduce the unit by identifying the world religions that will be looked at: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each religion is unique but at the same time, there are actions and beliefs that are the same among these religions. We are going to look for some basic information regarding the beliefs, rituals, writings, as well as when and where these religions began. Each of you will be assigned a religion. Later, you will be coming together as a group of five to share your information. Along the way, keep in mind how the religion is like another religion, but also how the religion you have been assigned is different from the others.

    Step 1—Assign one major world religion: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to each student in class by numbering students off 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. The students who are the ones will have Hinduism, the twos will have Buddhism, the threes have Judaism, fours have Christianity and the fives have Islam. Provide students with the worksheet.

    To begin, I have the students use their textbook first. I also have library books and the computers available for student use. The student will complete the worksheet (Handout 1) regarding the religion assigned. This introduction and individual worksheet may take 1 to 2 days.

    Some helpful sites to use:

    Differentiated instruction: Depending on the individual student, you may pair students to work as a team. One student looks up information and the other writes the information on the worksheet.

    Extension: After finding information, the student can create a diary entry titled "one day in the life of a __(name of the follower)__” by identifying what transpired from the time the follower woke in the morning until retiring for the night.

    Name _____________________   Hour _________   Date _____________

    World Religions Worksheet—Handout 1

    1. Name of the religion assigned: _______________________________________
    1. Name for the followers of this religion: _________________________________
    1. Is there a founder?  If so, who was it? _________________________________
    1. When did this religion originate/begin? _________________________________
    1. Where did this religion originate/begin? ________________________________
    1. What is the name of the supreme being/God? ___________________________
    1. What is the name of the sacred text/writings? ___________________________
    1. What is the name of the place to worship in? ____________________________
    1. List four-five major beliefs of this religion.
    1. List two-three of the most important rituals/observances of this religion.

    1. Is there a symbol associated with this religion?  Explain its meaning or why it is used.  If so, draw it in the space below.





    Step 2--After completing the individual worksheet, the students will be placed in groups of five in which each religion is represented (a group will have a student who found out information regarding Hinduism, one with Buddhism, one with Judaism, etc.). Students whose religion originated in Asia (Hinduism and Buddhism) will be first to provide information to their group members. The information that is presented will be used to complete a chart titled World Religions Which Originated in Asia--Handout 2, side A. (attached file--Handout WRel Charts Handout created using Word) Suggested answers can be found in Teachers Chart Suggested Answers, attached file.

    Please click here for the WReL Charts Handout

    Please click here for the WReL Suggested Answers

    Step 3—After students have completed the chart, the group is to discuss how the religions compare and identify the differences between the two religions Hinduism and Buddhism. A Venn diagram can be used for this purpose-Handout 2, side B. (Diagram made using PowerPoint)

    Steps 2 and 3 may take 1 to ½ days.

    Step 4—Group share. As a class, look at what similarities and what differences can be seen between Hinduism and Buddhism. The teacher interjects with specific or additional information about the religion. For example: both religions believe in the idea of karma, it is important to know that Buddhism has its roots in Hinduism. A difference would be the caste system which Hinduism accepted and Buddhism rejected. This step may take ½ day.

    Extension: If you have several sections of the same class you can create a competition by seeing which section of the class can come up with the most number of similarities and the most number of differences. Keep a tally sheet on the wall or the board identifying the name of the class and their numbers. If you have an Airliner Notebook or a method to capture the statements the students make, you can save them and then share their similarities and differences with other sections.

    Repeat Steps 1-4, using Handout 3, with the religions originating in the Middle East (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) being shared.

    Please click here for the PowerPoint Presentation

    Step 5—to ensure everyone has the same or correct information, the teacher will lead the review of information and class discussion about the similarities and differences between the religions. If there is trivial information provided by the student, it can be acknowledged by the teacher, but not written on the chart. As the chart is being filled in, ask students to identify what common c

    For additional information contact :
    Mary Grossnickle
    Kirksville Sr. High
    Kirksville R-III
    (660) 665-4631

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