Comparing numbers can be a hard skill to learn in first grade, as kids are still learning how numbers relate to each other and forming a sort of conceptual number line in their heads. It is also very confusing to learn to use the vocabulary and the symbols for "greater than, less than". (For more details on why this is so and how you can help kids learn this concept, take a look at our math skills page on greater than less than.)

The fun activities below will give kids practice comparing numbers and using the symbols >, < and =.

**Snack Solvers:** Give kids two stick pretzels and a handful of Cheerios.
Tell them to put Cheerios in two piles, separated a little distance
away from each other.
Count the Cheerios. Which is more? Use the pretzel sticks to make a <, >,
or = and put the symbol in between the piles of Cheerios. Remind
children that the hungry "big mouth" side faces towards the bigger
pile of Cheerios.

**Greater Amounts of Stuff:** Try this no-prep activity to practice comparing numbers at home or at school:
"How many windows in this room? How many in that room? Which number is greater?"
Compare numbers of chairs, books on desks, posters in two rooms,
plates in the dishwasher vs. plates in the cabinet, toys on the floor
vs. toys on the shelves, peas on my plate vs. peas on your plate, etc.

**Greater Words:** Try greater than/less than with words. Pick
two words, such as two kids' names. Write both names. Count the letters in each name
and put the correct symbol (<, > or =) in the middle. The skills kids learn in this multi-level activity
will make comparing numbers a breeze.
(You can do "word" number sense activities with other skills, too. What words are odd? Which are
even? How many letters are in your friends' names? What about when your names are added together?)

**Hundreds Chart Search:** Look together at a
hundreds chart.
Say the name of a number between 1 and 99 and say, "My number is 43.
What is greater?" Have the child answer the question, then switch so
he can pick the next number:
"My number is 22. What is less?" This game can be made more fun by keeping score
for each right answer, and by the adult occasionally getting an answer wrong!
(For more advanced kids, you can ask, "What is 2 greater? What is 10 less?")

For even more fun practice comparing numbers, take a look at our number sense games.

## Comments