Comparing Numbers up to 10

By this stage many children will also have a good sense of order of the numbers up to 10 and will naturally recognise that a group of 6 objects is bigger, or greater, than a group of 4 objects. Some children will still need to count the objects to decide this, and there are ideas below for providing further help in this case. This is when we start to introduce words such as greater and smaller, more and fewer and the same. In this stage it is also a good idea to help your child understand one more and one less.

Comparing Numbers Day by Day

If your child is struggling to "know" if a group of objects is bigger or smaller than another group of objects and still wants to count out all the objects to be sure, there are plenty of ways to provide more practice.

  • Hands on practice. Gather objects together and ask your child to put them into piles of "4" and "6" and so on. Ask your child how you might work out which is the biggest pile, or the smallest pile. They might suggest counting the objects, or measuring in some other way. Count the objects and hoose one of our Number Cards to label the piles. Talk about which pile and number is bigger, which is smaller and which look the same.
  • Match up. Create two similar piles of objects. Ask your child to guess which is greater or smaller. Now take one object from each pile and put them into pairs. Does one pile has an object left over? Discuss what this means.
  • Use toys. Put a pile of toys between you - cuddly toys or cars or other favourites. Give your child some and take some yourself. Count up. Who has more? Who has less? Do you have the same?
  • Practice with our Number Cards. Print out a selection of our Mix and Match Picture or Dot Number Cards and match them up.
  • Make brick towers. Ask your child to make a tower of 3 bricks and a tower of 4 bricks. You could use wooden bricks, snap cubes, Lego or Duplo. Discuss which is taller. Is taller the same as greater? Which is lower. Is lower the same as greater? Write the number symbols for each tower (or match them to a Number Card) and discuss which number is greater.
  • Ten Frames and Ten Towers make useful visual representations of numbers. Use 2 side by side.
  • Go hunting! Look for groups of people or objects when you are around the house, in the classroom or out and about. Which group is bigger? Greater? Smaller? Fewer?
  • More or less? Give each child 10 counters. Secretly put a certain number in your hand, hiding what you are doing, then put your hand on the table in front of you. One child (or the adult) calls out "Who has more?" or "Who has less?" and the child with the most - or least - gets a point (or a sweet). The challenge is that no-one knows whether the call will be "more" or "less" so they don't know whether to choose a large number of counters or a small number.
  • Use cookies or sweets. There is nothing like the injustice of having less cookies or sweets than a sibling or friend to teach the concept of comparing numbers! Put different numbers of cookies on a plate and ask "Who has more?"
  • Play Snap Challenge. At any point during the day call out "Snap Challenge, which is more, 3 or 4?" or so on. Substitute numbers and sometimes call out "Which is less?" instead. Suggest that your child Snap Challenges you, too.

Discuss

Does the biggest or tallest pile always have the greater number of objects? How might you test this?

Teaching One More and One Less

  • Snack time. One more and one less are easily illustrated using cookies or sweets as above. Put 3 cookies on a plate and ask your child how many there are. Add a cookie, saying "Here is one more". Ask how many cookies there are now. Do the same another time and take away a cookie.
  • Play Snap Challenge. At random moments throughout the day call "Snap Challenge! One less than 9?" and encourage your child to reply as quickly as possible. Your child can Snap Challenge you, too.

Our Resources

Number Cards and Ten Frames and Ten Towers will be useful for many of the activities above. You can also explore the worksheets below.

Comparing Numbers 1 To 10 Worksheet Pack

All Comparing Numbers 1 to 10 Worksheet Pack

This worksheet pack contains 8 worksheets that work on comparing numbers up to 10, starting with the most simple 2 and 3. They ask children to count and write the number of objects and then introduce the concepts of more, less and one more by asking children to complete the sentences.

More, Less or the Same Worksheets Set 1

All More, Less or the Same Worksheets Set 1

There are two worksheets in this set, introducing simple "count and compare" activities and also the most simple language of comparison - more, less or the same. They are available in both UK and US school fonts.

Counting Cubes Large Ten Colours

Counting Cubes Large Ten Colours

This is a ten page file with ten different colours of large counting cubes - perfect for when you need something for cutting and sticking into maths notebooks. They might also be useful when you want to do a "hands-on" activity but don't have any maths manipulatives to hand.

Counting Cubes Ten of Each Colour

Counting Cubes Ten of Each Colour

This set of printable counting cubes includes 10 of each colour, including a "top" cube. We've spaced them so that you can cut them out as quickly as possible.

Counting Cubes Towers of Ten

Counting Cubes Towers of Ten

When you need a manipulative but don't have any to hand, these "paper" versions might be useful - and they are also great for cutting and pasting onto home-made posters and displays.

Counting Cubes Towers of Ten All Colours

Counting Cubes Towers of Ten All Colours

This 2-page printable contains 10 ready-stacked towers of our counting cubes for you to cut out and use with other same-size printables in the collection, in 10 different colours.

Counting Posters 1 to 10

Counting Posters 1 to 10

These posters have been designed with lovely, bright illustrations that we hope the kids will love to count!

More and Less Mats

More and Less Mats

Print out one of the sets below and laminate if you wish. Use them with our mix and match cards - choosing one or more of our mix and match counting cards and pair them with a set of number cards.

Next Steps ...

One More and One Less
One More and One Less

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