Venn diagrams make use of overlapping circles to demonstrate the logical relationship between two or more groups of objects at the same time. These are widely used in mathematics, logic, linguistics, computer science, and business, among other fields. Although Venn diagrams are typically taught in primary school, you may teach your child the same concept using animal toys and figurines that may be lying around the house. Wonder how? Let’s have a look some interesting ways to learn Venn diagrams using animal figurines.

An Example of a Venn Diagram

Consider a scenario where you have to choose your favorite pet animal toy among the different sets of toys available.

Set A contains daddy’s favorite animal toys: dog, parrot, and giraffe

Set B has mommy’s favorite animal toys: dog, cat, and fish

Set C contains child’s favorite animal toys: dog, cat, turtle, and snake

When you look at all three sets, the dog is commonly present in Sets A, B, and C, which creates an overlap or intersection when we represent it graphically in Venn diagrams. Hence, the favorite pet animal toy chosen is a dog.

Step-by-Step Method to Create Venn Diagrams Using Animal Toys1

Purpose

Use Venn diagrams to sort your favorite animal figurines, your family, and household items.

Items Needed

• About 12–18 feet of yarn, ribbon, string, and painter’s tape
• Access to a large group of stuffed animal toys, action figures, dolls, helicopters, trains, buses, shoes, sneakers, etc.
• Many pieces of paper
• A pen or a pencil

Go through circles

A Venn diagram uses circles to sort items into groups with overlaps and intersections showing items that sit in different groups.

You can now ask the children to have a look at the above Venn diagram and answer a few questions.

• Can you name all the animals with fur as shown in the Venn diagram?
• There are six furry animals in the Venn diagram. They are ant-eaters, cheetahs, baboons, dogs, cats, and guinea pigs.
• As shown in the Venn diagram, can you name all the animals that make great pets?
• There are six animals that make great pets, as shown in the Venn diagram. They are dogs, cats, guinea pigs, lizards, turtles, and frogs.
• Why are three animals placed in the overlap portion of the Venn diagram circles?
• Dogs, cats, and guinea pigs are furry and also make great pets. Hence, they are placed in the overlap portion of the Venn diagram circles.
• Why are three animals not placed in either circle?
• Beetles, alligators, and poisonous snakes are not furry and do not make great pets. Hence, they are placed outside of both circles.

Now make a big Venn diagram to sort items around your home.

1. Cut the yarn or string in half to make a two-ring Venn diagram on the floor or on the dining table.
1. Use paper strips or sticky notes to label each ring for a new set of items. You can alter the label for each new set.
• Set 1: Dolls, stuffed animals, and action figures
• Name one ring “Found in Real life” and the other ring “Vague.”
• Sort the toys as per their traits.
• Example: A teacher doll will be found in real life, and hence, place it in the “Found in Real life” ring. A furry stuffed cat will be in the intersection. Then, the Harry Potter action figure will fall out of the circle as it is neither real nor vague. Lastly, a stuffed Super Mario will be placed in the Vague ring.
• Set 2: Vehicle toys like airplanes, buses, or helicopters
• Label one ring as “Accommodates only a few passengers” and the other ring as “runs on a roadway.”
• Sort the vehicle toys according to their traits and place them in their respective rings.
• Example: A helicopter only accommodates a few people and is placed in “Accommodates only a few passengers.” A truck and a car will be placed at the intersection. The train and airplane will be placed outside the rings. A bus will be placed in the “runs on a roadway” ring.
• Set 3: You can now ask the children to sort the toys as Land Animals and Water Animals.3
• Create two rings, one named ‘Survives on Land” and the other “Survives in Water.”
• Sort the animals based on their traits for survival on land or water
• A shark, a whale, dolphins, and other types of fish survive only in water, hence place them in the “Survives on Water” ring.
• A lion, deer, leopard, camel, etc., survive only on land, hence placed in the “Survives on Land” ring.
• Now, a crocodile, a platypus, a frog, and a seal are placed at the intersection as they are amphibians that can survive on both land and water.
• Set 4: You can now ask the children to sort the toys as “Extinct” and “Currently Thriving.”
• Create two rings, one named “Extinct” and the other “Currently Thriving.”
• Sort the stuffed animal toys based on whether they are currently thriving or extinct.
• Dinosaurs, mammoths, Titanoboa, etc., are already extinct and are hence placed in “Extinct.”
• Deer, eagle, python, rats, etc., are thriving, and are hence placed under the “Currently Thriving” ring.
• According to WWF reports, Pangolin, tiger, Vaquita, Sumatran elephant, etc., are on the verge of extinction,4 and hence are placed at the intersection of the two rings.

Real-World Application of Venn Diagrams1

Some of the real-world applications of Venn Diagrams are:

• Math: Venn diagrams are used in basic math to understand concepts like unions, sets, and intersections. Set theory is a branch of mathematics that extensively uses Venn diagrams to solve problems.
• Probability and Statistics: Venn diagrams are used by statistical experts to predict the possibilities of certain occurrences. These diagrams are also used in predictive analytics.
• Logic: Venn diagrams are used in the determination of certain arguments, conclusions, and deductive reasoning.
• Linguistics: Venn diagrams are used for commonalities and differences between various languages
• Business: Venn diagrams are used for making business presentations and product and service comparisons.

Learning Venn diagrams at an early age can help children visualize and sort different things based on their traits and characteristics. Using animal figurines will make it easier and more interesting for parents to teach Venn diagrams to their children using things available at home.