Comparing Numbers

Comparing Numbers

Basic math concepts your kids need to know: comparing numbers

We looked at cardinality and counting in the previous post from this series. Once kids grasp this concept, they are ready to start comparing.

When you help your child compare numbers, think about the basics of counting.

As you count, later numbers are always worth more than the lower numbers because each subsequent number is one more than the previous.

What seems obvious to you now became established through practice and familiarity. Your child is right at the beginning of learning, so don't take it for granted that they have noticed such things.

  • Comparing groups depends on the number of objects, not the objects' size. Five toy cars in a box are more than two real cars in a garage.
  • Comparing numbers can have three outcomes: more than, less than, and the same. When you get kids to compare groups, don't forget to make some groups equal in size. 
  • Compare comparisons such as 3 and 10 are more than 2, but 3 is next to 2 while 10 is further away.
  • Talk about reasons for comparing, such as why they would pick a box with five toys over one with two toys.
  • Compare groups to the numeral given to them, such as asking if the box labelled 5 has five objects in it.
  • Start to link counting on and counting back to the number in a group. They'd have one less if they had five cookies but ate one.

Comparing numbers is a step to using number lines, so educational apps that show numbers in sequence are helpful. This is also a concept that many apps provide independent practice opportunities by showing groups for kids to compare.

You should also play open-ended activities in your child's educational apps to set thought-provoking questions. The app will give you and your child a focal point, but your questioning will be more sensitive to your child's current level than any app could be.

Ask your child questions like:

  • Are there more animal or human characters on screen?
  • Which character has the most buttons on their coat?

You can link math and literacy together. As your kids are using an early reading app, ask your kids which words have the most letters, what is the longest word they have read, and which is the longest sentence on a page.

Early Math Learning Concepts - The Building Blocks - Part 1

Early Math Learning Concepts - How many? - Part 2

Early Math Learning Concepts - Patterns - Part 4

Early Math Learning Concepts - Shapes - Part 5

Early Math Learning Concepts - Measuring - Part 6

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