Ordering and comparing numbers require a deep understanding of place value, which students will develop as they are exposed to multiple representations of whole numbers. Understanding numbers doesn’t have to be boring. Here is a fun way to boost your student’s understanding of numbers with ten comparing and ordering number activities.
Comparing Numbers Anchor Chart
At the beginning of our understanding numbers unit, I always make this anchor chart. My students keep a matching copy of this in their math journal to use later on or as a great way for them to get extra support with number comparison.
Now let’s break down some educational games and activities that you can use with your students when you are introducing and practicing comparing and ordering numbers.
Dot Method for Comparing Numbers
A few years ago, the district that I was working in wanted us to get away from the “alligator” method when it came to teaching comparing numbers. This was because they wanted all grade levels using the same vocabulary when teaching skills. It was then that I started using the dot method and it surprisingly worked really well. Here is how the dot method works:
- Draw two dots next to the larger number.
- Add a single dot next to the smaller number.
- Draw lines to connect the dots to form the correct symbol.
You can see a photo example of the dot method on the anchor chart above.
Comparing Number Monsters
I’ve been making comparing number monsters for years. I can actually remember making these as a child. Before they can create their monster, each child must come up with 2 numbers to compare. You can assign them two numbers or they can generate their own by using dice or number cards. Here is how they make their monsters:
- Each child will need 2 popsicle sticks. These will be used to create the symbol when comparing their numbers.
- In their math journal or on a piece of construction paper, have them write their comparing numbers problem, using the popsicle sticks as their symbol. They’ll glue them on the paper.
- Then, have your students get creative and create a monster. The comparing symbol serves as the mouth of the monster.
Here is a video where I show this exact activity, as well!
Comparing Base Ten Blocks
Once your students have a general grasp of comparing numbers, it can be fun to stretch their thinking just a little bit. I use this Comparing Base Ten PowerPoint to review multiple skills. For this activity, each child will need a recording sheet or a dry erase board. The PowerPoint will display two sets of base ten blocks. They must find the value of each set of blocks and write it on their recording sheet. Then they will compare the two numbers using the correct symbol and determine if it is greater than or less than.
Another way that you can incorporate place value and comparing numbers is with expanded form. In this example, they would spin two numbers, write them in expanded form, and then compare using symbols. This could also be done with dice or number cards and students could write in their math journal or dry erase board.
These comparing number activities can be found in my Understanding Numbers Unit.
Ring Around and Compare
For this activity, you will need large number cards. You can write or type numbers onto computer paper or construction paper. They’ll also need a recording sheet or dry erase board. This is how you play:
- Give each student a large number card.
- Divide your class into two equal groups.
- Designate one group as the inside circle and the other group as the outside circle.
- With their dry erase board and number card, each student will stand in their circle. The inside circle will face out and the outside circle will face in.
- Play some music. When the music starts playing each circle moves to the right. This means that the circles will be moving in opposite directions.
- When the music stops, students pair up with the classmate facing them.
- They’ll write their own number and their partner’s number on their dry erase board and compare them.
- The teacher will spot check answers and help as needed.
This comparing numbers activity is perfect for getting your students up and moving while keeping them actively engaged.
True of False Comparing Numbers
I am a huge fan of pocket chart sorts. I love them because they are great for whole group lessons but then can be repurposed for small groups or math centers later on. In this activity, students have to sort their comparing number equation based on if it is true or false. This is great because it allows them to explain their thinking of why they believe their problem is true or why they think it is false.
Ordering Even and Odd Numbers
For this activity, students will need a set of number cards and a strip of construction paper or a sentence strip.
Have them color the even numbers blue and the odd numbers red. Once the numbers have been sorted, have them order their set of even numbers from least to greatest. Then repeat the process with their odd numbers from greatest to least.
Once you have checked their work, then they can glue their numbers in order on their sentence strip. They can glue the even numbers on one side of their construction paper and odd numbers on the other side.
Ordering Number Cubes
Prior to this activity, you will need to use dot stickers and add numbers onto linking cubes.
Place all of the cubes with numbers into a tub. Have your students draw 4-5 cubes from the tub. Then they have to order the different numbers from least to greatest or greatest to least.
You can find the recording sheet for this activity in my Understanding Numbers unit.
Flip: An Ordering Numbers Game
Flip is a great activity that your students can play during small groups when practicing ordering a group of numbers. For this game, you will need a set of number cards. You can use pre-printed number cards or write them on index cards. Here is how to play:
- Spread the number cards face down on your table.
- When the teacher says “FLIP”, each child at the table will turn over one card and read their first number out loud.
- Then, the teacher will call out “least to greatest” or “greatest to least”.
- Your students must work as a group to put their cards in the order that you called out
This game could also be played whole group or you could have students partner up and play during your math station time.
Magazine Race: An Ordering Numbers Activity
Using magazines to help students find numbers keeps them engaged. Here is how this works:
- Give each student a magazine (make sure it is kid friendly 😆)
- Set a timer for 5 minutes. Have them search for numbers in their magazine and cut out as many as they can find. You may have them look for only three digit numbers or only two digit numbers.
- When time is up, have them put the numbers that they found in order from least to greatest or greatest to least.
If you’re interested in more ideas for teaching comparing and ordering numbers in your 2nd-grade classroom, you’re in luck! I have a 4-week unit made with lesson plans, activities, and games for whole group and small group instruction. You won’t find many worksheets with this unit. Tap the link to check out my Understanding Numbers unit.
Save these comparing and ordering numbers ideas for later and pin the image below!
Have a blessed one,