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Two Activities for Understanding Numbers

The ability to compare numbers helps your child understand quantity and number relationship. This understanding develops deeper math skills needed for more complex math operations in higher grades. One way to practice this skill is to help her understand the concept of “more and less.” Here are two simple activities to reinforce “more and less”:

  • Introduce your child to the more (">") and less ("<") signs. When I show these signs to young students I call it the “alligator’s mouth.” The alligator wants to eat “more,” so the open part always faces the bigger quantity. Cut a 4- or 5-inch “more” or “less” sign out of construction paper. It will look like a sideward “V.” Put out two piles of small objects such as pennies, crayons, Legos, etc. Leave a space between the two piles. Have her count the number in each pile and put the sign, with the open part, by the pile that shows more. Then read it together, left to right. For example, if the piles show 6 > 4, encourage her to say “6 is more than 4.” Put the smaller pile first, have her turn the sign to show 4 < 6. She should then be able to say, left to right, “Four is less than six.” Practice often with varying amounts. Once your child can easily do this activity, move on to the next activity.

  • Put two rows of pennies under each other. For example, put 8 pennies in the top row, and five pennies in the bottom row, aligned directly below the first five pennies in the top row. Ask him, “Which row shows more?” When he says “The top row,” ask “How many more?” Help him see, and count if needed, that there are 3 more pennies in the top row.  This activity visually demonstrates that 8 is 3 more than 5, and 5 is 3 less than 8. Keep playing with different number combinations to 10, always aligning the bottom row of pennies to the top row. For each set of rows made, help him determine how many “more” and conversely, how many “less.”

These two simple games can greatly aid your child in understanding the value of numbers, and the concept of quantity.


> Two Fine Motor Activities To Develop Math Skills

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