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Lockdown Day 48 – Greater than/less than

Lockdown Day 48 – Numeracy and Arithmetic

The concepts of ‘greater/more than’, ‘less than’ and ‘equal to/the same as’ are important foundational skills that all children need to learn and understand. These concepts are instrumental in allowing the children to develop an understanding of all mathematical operations. There are many card-based activities with a crocodile mouth that aim to teach children these concepts. The best way to start, however, is still by giving children a concrete experience of what these words mean.


Start introducing this concept by using something that the child is most familiar with – her/his own body! Stand the child next to another person and use comparative language. “John, look – you are BIGGER/TALLER than Jabulani”. “Jabulani is SMALLER/SHORTER than you.”

You can also compare body parts – your child’s hands may be SMALLER than yours, your hands are BIGGER than the child’s, but you have the SAME number of fingers.

There is a lot of comparative language that can be used:

  • bigger, smaller
  • taller, shorter
  • longer, shorter
  • broader, narrower
  • wider, narrower
  • thicker, thinner…

Once the child has developed an understanding of this comparative language, we can move to using this in a lightly more abstract way by comparing objects to each other.

At snack time, place different amounts of the same food on two or three plates. Start a discussion about which plate has the MOST and which has the LEAST. How can we make the amounts the SAME?

This can be repeated with any objects around the house or the garden.

If you have an older child who already understands and knows how to write numbers, you can then take this onto paper. Write two numbers next to each other onto paper and ask the child to identify which number is the biggest. The ‘>’ symbol can then be used between the two numbers with the open end facing the bigger number. At this point you can then draw on the child’s understanding and scaffold her/his learning by introducing the language of ‘greater than’, ‘less than’ and ‘equal to’.

Have fun exploring!