My kindergartners are beginning their formal exploration of number comparisons. Sure, we have been noticing that some numbers are larger than others and that some piles have more while others have fewer but they are ready to formally begin solidifying these understandings. The most important things I am keeping in the forefront of my mind when introducing comparison are to keep it concrete and emphasize comparison conversation.
My students need to talk. A lot. It is one thing to be able to indicate which number or set of objects is more or fewer and another to be able to articulate it. And so, as my students explore numbers and counting we will talk, and talk, and talk some more to solidify the associated language!
Activity # 1: Counting & Comparing Sets
Keep It Concrete: Students will take a comparison card with two numbers. Students count out blocks or counters to represent each amount on the card and then match up the blocks to see which number is more and which number is less.
Comparison Conversation: I like to put the numbers in a context on the cards. For example on the animal cards below the number corresponds to a type of animal. In this way, the students have more opportunities to talk about the comparison in a variety of ways. These cards are free in my TPT store if you would like to grab them :)
When looking at this comparison card, students would lay out 2 counters to represent the 2 pandas and 6 counters to represent the 6 flamingos. Encourage the students to talk about and compare both the animals and the numbers in isolation.
"There are fewer pandas than flamingos."
"Two is less than six."
"There are more flamingos than pandas."
"Six is more than two."
Activity # 2: Sorting Sets
Keep It Concrete: Students will have a target set of blocks with a given number such as 7. Have a student take a small handful or scoop out of a bin of blocks. They will count their set and then sort the amount under headings that say "More" "Less" or "Same" in relation to the target set. This activity can be used in a whole group setting taking turns scooping and counting and then doing a quick "Think, Pair, Share" before sorting, in a small group moving around the circle and giving each student a turn to scoop and count or as a partner or individual activity. You can also modify this activity by giving students cards with dots or pictures on them that they can count and sort. I would do that only after the students are becoming proficient with concrete materials because in a still picture students would not have the opportunity to move and match up the blocks to compare.
Comparison Conversation: Every time a student sorts and places a card have them say aloud a full sentence explaining why they are sorting in the way that they are. "My scoop is more because 9 is more than 7." "My scoop is the same because they both have 7" or "My scoop is less because 2 is fewer than 7".
Don't forget to grab your free comparison cards and happy comparing!