EL Support Lesson

How to Compare?

This lesson is a great introduction to comparing numbers 1-10 using greater than, less than, or equal to. Using hands-on practice and language supports this can be used as a stand alone or pre-lesson for the **More, Less, or Equal: Comparing Quantities** lesson plan.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the More, Less, or Equal: Comparing Quantities lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the More, Less, or Equal: Comparing Quantities lesson plan.

Students will compare the number of objects in two groups. Students will use the words greater than, less than, or equal to compare items.


Students will be able to explain how to compare two groups using sentence frames and kinestetic activities.

(2 minutes)
  • Gather the class together and show them a picture of an alligator. Say, "This is Annie. She LOVES to eat! When she sees two groups of things, she always wants to eat the bigger group!"
  • Show two groups of objects (e.g., cubes) on plates with different amounts (e.g., one and five). Say, "Point to the plate of cubes you think Annie would like to eat."
(5 minutes)
  • Use the Vocabulary Cards to define the target words for the lesson. Say, "Today we will be learning all about how to compare two groups. When we compare we are looking for how something is the same or different. In our math lesson today we will be trying to figure out which group has the greater or bigger amount and which group has less or the smaller amount. Sometimes two groups are the same, then we say that the groups are equal to one another."
  • Model how to compare two groups by placing two paper plates in front of you containing different numbers of objects (e.g., buttons). Show the students how to count each group of objects individually to find the total number in each group. Then place the corresponding number card under the group of objects. Say, "This group has six buttons, so I am putting the number six under the plate. This other group has nine buttons so I am putting the number nine under this group. Now I am going to figure out which group has more buttons."
  • Draw the comparison symbols (< and >) on the board and refer back to the picture of Annie the alligator. Say, "Remember that Annie always eats the bigger group? This math symbol is like Annie's mouth. We can use it to make a comparison sentence."
  • Use the number line to identify if nine or six is bigger. Then show the class how to place the matching symbol between the two groups (using a pipe cleaner).
  • Read the number sentence, e.g., "Nine is greater than six, or six is less than nine."
  • Repeat the activity using two groups with the same amount to model comparing two equal groups.
(5 minutes)
  • Place two new groups of objects on each of the two paper plates.
  • Ask the class to count aloud with you to find the total amount of objects in each group.
  • Place the corresponding number cards under each group.
  • Have students turn and talk to share with a partner which of the numbers is greater. Provide the sentence frame, "I think ____ is the greater number because ____."
  • Point to each number and have students give a thumbs up or thumbs down if they think the number is the greater number.
  • Ask the students to show you the comparison symbol to place between the groups using their hands.
  • Read the number sentence aloud, having students echo read after you.
  • Repeat process with two new groups (if time allows).
(10 minutes)
  • Explain that now students will get to practice even more comparisons!
  • Display the Eating Numbers worksheet and provide students with counting manipulatives and a number line to use.
  • When finished, ask students to turn and talk to share their work with a partner, practicing how to read each number sentence aloud.


  • Have students practice counting groups in their home language (L1).
  • Provide an alligator visual (e.g., alligator mouth made from popsicle sticks) for students to use when comparing two groups of numbers.
  • Work with a small group of students to compare additional groups using counting manipulatives, number cards, and pipe cleaners.


  • Pair students together to compare groups containing 11-20 objects.
  • Ask students to make their own comparison number sentence and then trade with a partner, reading them aloud to check their work.
(5 minutes)
  • Throughout the lesson take anecdotal notes of students to assess their ability to compare two numbers. Turn these notes and images into a visual learning display to capture students thinking.
  • Collect student work samples at the end of the lesson to assess if students were able to correctly identify the matching comparison symbols.
  • Take note of how students respond at the end of the lesson during the quick check when comparing two numbers.
(3 minutes)
  • Gather the class together.
  • Hold up two number cards and ask students to point to the card with the greater number.
  • Post the cards or write the two numbers on the board. Write the appropriate comparison symbol between the two numbers.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to share how they would read the number sentence. Then, read it aloud as a group.

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