What Is A Venn Diagram? Explained For Parents, Teachers And Kids

In this post we will be explaining what Venn diagrams are, how they can be used, and what your child will be learning about them throughout elementary school. We’ve also included a number of Venn-diagram-based questions to test your child’s skills, so take a look!

This blog is part of our series of blogs designed for parents supporting home learning and looking for home learning resources.

What is a Venn diagram?

A Venn diagram (named after mathematician John Venn in 1880) is a method used to sort items into groups.


Venn diagrams explained: how to interpret them

These diagrams are usually presented as two or three circles overlapping, with the overlapping sections containing items that fit into both (or all, if three circles overlap) groups. Items that don’t belong to either/any group are placed on the outside of the circles.

See below an example of a simple Venn diagram:

example of a simple Venn diagram

In the example above, you can see that the words have been sorted into one of four categories: those with 5 letters (placed in the left circle), those with a double consonant (placed in the right circle), those with both 5 letters and a double consonant (placed in the center overlap) and those with neither (placed round the edge).

Below is another example with three circles creating eight groups.

example of Venn diagram with three circles creating eight groups


When will my child learn about Venn diagrams?

Venn diagrams don’t officially appear in the standards across the United States, however they are applicable to topics in math and English learning very early on, as students use them to classify words, shapes, and numbers in an organized manner.

The Venn Diagram is an excellent tool to communicate classifications, and therefore is introduced early in schooling so that it can continue to be used as concepts become more complex.

Wondering about how to explain other key math vocabulary to your children? Check out our Primary Math Dictionary, or try these other math terms:


Venn diagram examples

To help your child understand the different ways in which a Venn diagram can be used, here is a variety of diagrams that they may come across:

Number Venn diagram examples

Venn diagram which includes multiples of 3 and multiples of 10

An example of a Venn diagram which includes multiples of 3 and multiples of 10.

Venn diagram including multiples of 5 and even numbers

An example of a Venn diagram including multiples of 5 and even numbers.

Word Venn diagram examples

animals word Venn diagram example

Venn diagram for kids

example of a simple Venn diagram for kids
An example of a venn diagram you could make with your child.


Venn diagram practice questions

1) Write each of these numbers in its correct place on the sorting diagram: 40, 8 and 15

Venn diagram practice question 1

2) Joe asked the children in his class which flavors of ice cream they like. He recorded the results in a Venn diagram. How many children like chocolate ice cream? How many children do not like vanilla ice cream?

Venn diagram practice question 2

3) In a survey, people were asked if they like tea and coffee. The results are in this Venn diagram. What percentage of people in the survey like both tea and coffee? What percentage of people in the survey do not like coffee?

Venn diagram practice question 3

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Why not learn more about how it works?

The content in this article was originally written by primary school teacher Sophie Bartlett and has since been revised and adapted for US schools by elementary math teacher Jaclyn Wassell.

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