How to Teach Venn Diagrams in Middle School Math

A Venn diagram is a way to represent the similarities and differences between groups. The most widely known Venn diagram involves two circles that overlap slightly in the middle. Each circle represents a different group. Write different attributes of each group within their respective circles. When the two groups share an attribute, that attribute is written once in the area where the two circles overlap. It is possible to have any number of groups; add one circle per group.

Things You'll Need

  • Chalkboard or whiteboard
  • Chalk or dry erase marker
  • Paper and pencils


    • 1

      Draw two partially overlapping circles on the chalkboard (or whiteboard) big enough for the entire class to see.

    • 2
      Most students know a lot about animals.
      Most students know a lot about animals.

      Ask the class to name an animal. Write it as a header for one of the circles.

    • 3
      Asking for their celebrity icons helps students connect.
      Asking for their celebrity icons helps students connect.

      Ask the class to name a celebrity. Write their answer as the header of the other circle.

    • 4

      Ask the students to name traits associated with the groups. Write the traits that are shared by both groups in the area where the circles overlap. Write the traits not shared by both groups in the area where the circles don't overlap.

    • 5

      Tell the students to come up with two groups on their own.

    • 6

      Instruct the students to individually create a Venn Diagram using the groups they created.

    • 7

      Attend to the students as they complete the process. Clear up any confusions as they arise.

    • 8

      Create another Venn Diagram on the chalkboard or whiteboard replacing animals with even numbers and celebrities with multiples of 3. Explain the benefits of grouping numbers into categories.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the class is having trouble coming up with examples of traits that celebrities share with animals, think of a few to get the process started. For example: Both need oxygen to survive.
  • It's always a plus to find groups that the class can relate to. Feel free to switch the groups around.
  • Sometimes individuals will come up with groups that don't share similarities or exhibit differences. For example: multiples of 10 and prime numbers will never overlap, so the circles will be completely separate. On the other hand, multiples of 10 and even numbers will always overlap, so it would look like one circle. If this happens, explain that the Venn diagram is showing the differences and similarities. Those groups are just special cases.
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  • Photo Credit Abstract Colorful circles diagram image by Stasys Eidiejus from toy animals image by timur1970 from pop image by Andrey Kiselev from

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