Comparing Numbers up to 20

As the number of objects gets larger, it can become harder for children to recognise which of two or more groups have more or less. In this section we provide practice with hands-on ideas and worksheets, and also encourage children to group objects together in order to be able to "see" the numbers better.

Ideas for Learning

  • Guessing, grouping and counting. Give your child two piles or counters or buttons with somewhere between 11 and 20 in each pile. Ask which pile has the most. Discuss and experiment with tactics to make it easier to tell which group has the most. Here are some ideas, but your child may come up with more.
    • Stacking into towers - if the objects are all the same, like counters or small bricks.
    • Arranging into careful rows - one above each other.
    • Grouping into 5s and then 10s - and then counting the extras.
    • Grouping into "10 plus" - counting 10 objects from each group and pushing them to one side, then count the "plus" - ie the remaining objects.
    • Grouping with frames - using our Numbers to 20 Frames or Numbers to 20 Towers, or even our Ten Frames Posters 11 to 20, to line up the objects.
    • Discuss with your child:
      • Which of these tactics make it easier to tell which group has more?
      • Does it make ir harder or easier if the difference between the group is big or small?
      • Which of these methods helps your child to count the number of objects in each group the quickest and most accurately?
  • Revise the vocabulary of comparing - greater and smaller, more and more than and fewer and less than and the same.
  • Mix and match cards. Use a set of our mix and match cards below, starting with cards that are arranged in arrays (dot set 1 and mouse cards) and moving on to the randomly arranged cards later. Pick two cards and decide which has the most and the least. You can also mix the sets together to make it harder.
  • Mix and match cards with More or Less Mats. Print out our More or Less Mats (also available as More and Fewer) and give the children 2 mix and match counting cards at a time. They must count, find the correct number card and arrange them on the mats correctly. Move on to another pair. When children get confident you could give them 6 cards at a time and ask them to arrange them on the mats so that each row is correct. We've shown our puppy cards but you can choose any of our mix and match cards, or muddle them up to make it more challenging.

Mix and match cards used with More or Less mats for comparison

  • Using our Counting Posters. Our colourful counting posters (below) are designed with a space for your child to fix one of our Mix and Match cards. Hold up 2 posters and see if your child can guess which has more and which fewer before counting to see if they were right.
  • Worksheets. When you child has mastered the concept, have a go at some of the worksheets below. You can download them as 2 sets of 4, or individually. Set 2 includes a Halloween and Christmas worksheet.

Our Resources

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheet Minibeasts

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheet Minibeasts

This fun worksheet asks children to count the minibeasts and fill in the number, then compare with another group and use comparison words "more" and "fewer" in the sentences below.

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheet Shape 1

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheet Shape 1

Count the shapes and fill in the blanks in the sentences below, comparing each group with its neighbour. Children could "loop" the shapes together in 5s and 10s to make the counting easier.

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheet Shape 2

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheet Shape 2

Here is more practise in comparing numbers to 10 - counting arrays of different shapes and comparing each with their neighbouring array. We ask the kids to fill in the blanks in the comparison sentences beneath.

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheet Wildlife

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheet Wildlife

The little wildlife pictures on this worksheet make the counting and comparing fun! We provide groups of rabbits, squirrels, sparrows and owls for the kids to count and compare, and ask them to fill in the blanks with comparison words.

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheets Set 1

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheets Set 1

There are four worksheets in this set. The first features wildlife, the second and third shapes, and the fourth minibeasts. The first three arrange the objects to be counted in regular arrays while the fourth presents the minibeasts in a more random arrangement, making it a little harder.

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheets Set 2

Comparing Numbers to 20 Worksheets Set 2

This second set of worksheets for comparing numbers to 20 is full of fun pictures to get the kids engaged. Count 6 different groups of robots, flowers, Halloween and Christmas pictures, and compare the numbers in each pair of groups.

Comparison Word Cards Set 1

Comparison Word Cards Set 1

This set of word cards uses simple comparison words and phrases and is designed to be used with any of our Mix and Match cards for counting, comparing and ordering activities.

Counting and Comparing Flowers Worksheet

Counting and Comparing Flowers Worksheet

Children need to count the flowers in each group, fill in the blank with the correct number, and then compare the pairs. Each group has between 11 and 20 flowers. You can ask them to guess before they count, too.

Counting Cube Towers 1 to 20

Counting Cube Towers 1 to 20

This set of 4 pages could be used for cut and stick activities - but also can be joined together to form a display showing towers from 1 to 20 and then back from 20 to 1. Some overlapping and sticking required!

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.

Mix and Match Counting Mouse Cards 11 to 20

Mix and Match Counting Mouse Cards 11 to 20

Count the cute mice on this set of mix and match cards. We've arranged them in rows of 5 to help children count them more easily. Show them that the first two rows of mice make "ten" and then count on from there.

Mix and Match Counting Puppy Cards 11 to 20

Mix and Match Counting Puppy Cards 11 to 20

Count the puppies and match them up with other cards in our mix and match collection! We've arranged the puppies in random patterns on these cards so the kids might like to try looping them together in 5's or 10's to make counting them easier.

Mix and Match Number Dots Cards 11 to 20 Set 2

Mix and Match Number Dots Cards 11 to 20 Set 2

Here are some challenging dot cards for the numbers 11 to 20, part of our mix and match set. If you laminate the cards after cutting them out, your children can use a dry wipe pen to "loop" the dots in groups of 5 or 10 to make them easier 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.

Number Line Banner 0-20

Number Line Banner 0-20

Choose from colour or black and white for this long banner featuring the numbers from 0-20. We've designed it so that it is quick to print and assemble and it looks great on the classroom walls...  

Numbers to 20 Frames

Numbers to 20 Frames

Print out these frames, laminate them if you wish, and use them with counters or other small objects for learning to count on from 10, addition within 20, subtraction within 20 etc.

Numbers to 20 Towers

Numbers to 20 Towers

Each of this printable provides two useful double-sets of ten towers, perfect for learning to count on from 10 to 20, addition within 20 and so on. They come in a variety of colours and we've included 3 sets of 20 counters too.

Ten Frame Posters 11 to 20

Ten Frame Posters 11 to 20

Use this set of 10 printables as individual posters, or line them up as a frieze or banner. Alternatively, laminate them and use them as mats in the classroom, to help children visualise and understand how the numbers are made up of 10 plus another number.

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