Updated: Oct 10, 2020
What does 'compare numbers' mean?
In Key Stage 1 Maths children learn how to compare the sizes of different numbers. Children start by comparing small numbers up to ten and work their way up to comparing numbers up to 100 by the time kids are in year 2.
Comparing numbers simply means that children look at numbers, recognise how big or small they are compared to one another, and therefore know which number is bigger, or more and which is smaller or less.
Kids also practise putting numbers that they have compared in order and learn to use the signs <, > and = to show how two numbers compare with one another.
Signs and Symbols for Comparing Numbers
The following signs are used to show how two numbers compare with one another:
< means 'less than' or 'smaller than'
> means 'more than' or 'greater than'
= means 'equal to'
So, for example, you could write 4 < 6 and this would mean 'four is less than six'.
Comparing Numbers in Year 1
In year 1 (or at age 5-6 years) children are able to say what one more or one less than a given number is and to use the language of: 'equal to', 'more than', 'less than', 'fewer', 'most', and 'least' in comparing numbers. They will be familiar with numbers to 100 and will be starting to understand place value too which will help them to begin comparing numbers within 100.
For kids in year 1 comparing and ordering numbers at home, I would suggest starting with comparing and ordering numbers to 10 and then 20 and so on to avoid overwhelming them with too much too quickly.
Comparing Numbers in Year 2
In Year 2 (or at age 6-7 years) children compare and order numbers up to 100 and they use the signs <, > and =.
For example, kids in year 2 would be able to compare the two numbers 65 and 81 and
say that 81 is more than 65
say that 65 is less than 81
write down 65 < 81
write down 81 > 61
In year 2, kids also put numbers up to 100 in order of size, for example, they may be given three numbers like 34, 99 and 10 and be asked to put them into order. In this example, they should be able to arrange the numbers from smallest to greatest: 10, 34, 99.
Comparing & Ordering Number to 100 Online Activity
I have created a drag and drop Space themed online activity for kids to practise comparing and ordering numbers. There are 10 different Boom Decks altogether (see the video above to see what they look like). Five of the decks help kids practise ordering numbers and five decks help kids practise using the signs to compare numbers. This activity can be accessed through a browser or mobile app.
If you're not sure what Boom Cards are or how they work you can read a post I wrote explaining how Boom Learning provides kids with awesome interactive and self-checking educational activities at home.
Each group of five decks (one for ordering and one for comparing), contains decks for practising with numbers to 10, 20, 30, 50 and 100 so that kids can work their way up and build their confidence gradually.
The Comparing & Ordering Numbers to 100 Bundle includes all 10 Boom Decks.
You can go straight to the big Comparing & Ordering Numbers to 100 Bundle or you can browse the individual decks on my Boom Store and choose the activities that best suit your kids' age and stage.
How to Use the Comparing & Ordering Numbers Boom Cards
You'll find these Boom Cards so simple to use that kids will be able to use them independently. Each play of the deck is 6-10 cards long and cards are randomised so that kids can play the same deck again and again without it being repetitive or boring.
Comparing Numbers Activity
In the Comparing Numbers Boom Decks, kids simply look at the two numbers at the bottom of the screen and choose the correct sign to fill in the empty star. In the example above the two numbers are 11 and 17. 11 is less than 17 which means kids would need to drag the star with the < on down to fill in the empty star shape and then click on Submit to check their answer and move on to the next card.
Ordering Numbers Activity
As you can see, the Boom Cards in the ordering numbers decks have three empty stars to be filled in. Kids have to drag each of the three numbered stars down into the right position so that the stars are in order from smallest to biggest. In this example the three numbers are 6, 5 and 2 so the stars should be placed in the following order: 2, 5, 6 because 2 is the smallest number and 6 is the greatest number.
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