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Similarities and Differences

Teaching Character Concepts through Math and Movement

“We get together on the basis of our similarities; we grow on the basis of our differences.” - Virginia Satir.

Kids quickly learn to recognize similarities and differences. Early on it’s shapes, colors, tastes, smells. and later, hobbies, sports, appearances, and opinions. Teaching students to recognize and embrace both similarities and differences can be one of the more challenging life lessons - something many adults still struggle with!

PowerUp Fitness offers a variety of unique fitness programs! PowerUp programs are designed to provide children with the opportunity to become more active, physically and mentally. Learn more about us and our mission to PowerUp children's development with fitness and fun in our About Section!

Often overlooked is how physical activity can be used to demonstrate and teach character concepts. Today’s Tips & Tricks provides fun, active learning activities while helping kids understand similarities and differences and how we can arrive at a similar outcome even with a different approach.

The most basic example? 1+3 = 4, 2+2 = 4, and 1x4 = 4. Three different problems/approaches to reach a total of 4.

Fitness Factors

We often refer to the completions of a particular exercise we’ll perform in sets and repetitions or reps for short. “I’m going to do 2 sets of 10 push-ups/(reps of the exercise)”. Once finished, I will have completed 20 push-ups. When combined, sets and reps represent a multiplication problem.

In Fitness Factors, the instructor calls out an exercise and a number. Students determine the set and rep combinations (or the “factors”) of the number and then perform their (individual) preferred set and rep combination of the named exercise. For example; “Exercise is a lunge and the number is 8”. Students respond with the options of 1 set of 8 reps, 2 sets of 4 reps, 4 sets of 2 reps, or 8 sets of 1 repetition. Repeat with different exercises and factors. Use the prompts below to engage students in a discussion about similarities and differences between rounds.

Character Concept Prompts

Find a friend that chose the same factors as you.

  • Ask them why they chose that combination of sets and reps. Example answers - (More sets) “I liked having more breaks”, (Single set) “I wanted to get it all done.” Those are my favorite numbers, etc.”

  • Did your friend with the similarity pick the same factors as you for the same reason?

Point out that we can arrive at the same answer, even by taking the same approach, but our reason for taking that path can still be different. (i.e. We both travel the same route from NY to CA, but you picked the route because it went through your favorite states and I picked it because it was the most scenic.)

Find a friend that chose a different set of factors.

  • Ask them why they chose that combination of sets and reps.

  • Did your friend that picked differently, pick different factors for the same reason as you or for a different reason (i.e. it included their favorite number)?

Point out that we can arrive at the same answer, even by taking a different approach, but our reason for taking that approach might be different, but can even be same in some cases. (i.e. We both travel from NY to CA taking a different route. You picked your route because in your opinion it was the most scenic. I picked my route because in my opinion it was the most scenic. Same general reasoning, but still differing opinion on what is scenic to each of us. Alternatively, maybe our route and reasoning was different - speed vs. scenic route - that’s okay too!


Download this printable pdf version of Character Concepts with Math and Movement!

Did you enjoy these activities? Take a look at our activity bundles or even request sample lesson plans to learn more!

For 100’s of activities, games, and exercises that can be implemented in-person, virtually or at home, check out our PowerUp programs!


PowerUp Fitness is an Advocate Member of the National Afterschool Association and a proud partner of Active Schools.


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