Comparisons are often tricky to explain. Comparing requires noticing how two things are the same, or different and in math we go beyond to quantify how alike or different two things are.

For my kiddies, this is never easy!

Enter: Hand Motions.

Some students can do very well with words alone and can visually work through the action of a word problem. Others MUST draw out a picture or a diagram before things "click" for them. But what about our kinesthetic learners? I had quite a few and hand motions fit the bill for them!

I have created a video below to demonstrate the hand motions. Today I am using my Halloween Sort & Solve (... they were a flash freebie today on Facebook!! Not following me over there? Start!)

The basic rules for hand motions are as follows:
* A known quantity is shown as an open hand, palm up.
* An unknown quantity is shown as a closed hand.

When using hand motions to solve a comparison problem, remember:
* If a quantity is "greater, more, bigger" etc. Make that hand higher.
* If a quantity is "less, fewer, smaller than" etc. Make that hand lower.
* If you do not know the difference between two quantities, move hands back and forth to show the missing difference.

This may seem a bit contrived until you try it, but I challenge you to try it yourself and with your students. Once you know the very few basic rules it is very intuitive and really can help your students to solve problems!

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  1. Comparison word problems were a skill my students struggled with last year. I will definitely be trying these hand motions to see if I can make the process a little more "concrete." Thanks for the tip and the freebie. I have a free math activity on my page today. Stop by and visit:
    The Traveling Teacher

  2. I will definitely be trying this strategy with my kiddos this year. Comparison word problems were the hardest ones for them to understand. Great idea!-Lisa

  3. Thank you both for the kind comments. I hope you get the chance to use these with your kiddies. They worked so well for mine!

  4. Thank you for sharing! I was hoping you might hop over to my blog and enter my giveaway! Thanks!!
    Teacher’s Lounge

  5. Thanks for that. I will be using this with my students and I think it will help a lot!

  6. Great post! Comparison is so hard. I love using hand motions in math, but I wasn't familiar with this technique. Sharing this.
    Not very fancy in 1st