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How to Teach Number Comparison to Preschoolers

Written by: Kokotree

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comparing numbers for preschoolers

If you’ve ever wondered how to introduce your preschooler to the concept of comparing numbers, you’re in the right place. It’s essential to start early, and I’m here to guide you through the process.

Comparing numbers isn’t just about identifying which one is bigger or smaller. It’s about understanding relationships and patterns, which are fundamental concepts in math. For preschoolers, this can be a fun and exciting journey.

Importance of Comparing Numbers for Preschoolers

As a seasoned educator, I can’t stress enough the value of comparing numbers at an early age. It’s a basic mathematical skill that allows toddlers to grasp the concepts of lesser and greater. But it’s not just about figuring out which bucket has more Legos. It’s also about understanding relationships between quantities, discerning patterns, and developing problem-solving skills.

Imagine this – your preschooler is playing with two groups of toy cars. One group has three cars and the other four. Now, they don’t just see them as separate sets. Instead, they should be able to point out that one group has more cars than the other. It’s a simple demonstration of comparing numbers but it offers essential insights into fundamental math relationships.

Here’s a fascinating fact: The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) considers counting, comparing and classifying as three essential building blocks of preschool math. Thus, introducing these concepts early on can help preschoolers establish a solid foundation in math, enabling them to excel academically in later years.

Carefully curated activities can help preschoolers effortlessly learn to compare quantities. For example, children can gain hands-on experience by using physical objects like blocks, balls, or beads. Engaging in games that involve dice or playing cards also prove to be beneficial. Different classes of preschoolers can take part in these fun activities.

The process need not be monotonous or extensively brain-wracking. After all, the goal is to help kids understand and enjoy the process. As they gradually gain an understanding of the concept, they’ll start comparing numbers in varying ways, thus opening doors to various mathematical domains which don’t just include counting, but also adding, subtracting, and eventually, even multiplication and division.

Isn’t this an exciting journey to embark on with your young ones? Introduce comparing numbers today and watch as they delve into the fascinating world of basic arithmetic. The sooner they get started, the sooner they’ll start recognizing and processing numerical relations in their daily lives.

Understanding Number Concepts

Grasping the basic number concepts lays the groundwork for future math skills. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), preschoolers must understand how to compare and classify numbers to lay a strong foundation.

Counting Objects

Counting is often a child’s first interaction with numbers. Right from their toddler years, introducing kids to numbers through everyday objects nurtures an interest in mathematics. This could be via toys, blocks, or anything handy at home. It’s a simple yet effective way to demonstrate how numbers represent the size of a set of objects. Takeaway: the more objects, the bigger the number.

Action Tip: Make counting concrete. Use physical objects from the child’s day-to-day life. As they get more comfortable with counting, gradually introduce abstract concepts.

One effective method I’ve found is using everyday opportunities to teach preschoolers counting. For example, count the number of apples while grocery shopping or the number of cars passing by during a walk. The goal is to integrate counting as a part of their routine life.

Recognizing Numerals

The next step involves recognizing numerals. Once children are well versed with counting objects, they can move onto identifying written numbers, also known as numerals. Digit recognition is key in this phase.

Action Tip: Begin by introducing simple numbers, gradually increasing the complexity as they become comfortable.

Flashcards are a great resource for teaching numeral recognition. Jigsaw puzzles that pair numerals with corresponding sets of objects can make the process even more enjoyable. The crucial part of this stage is associating quantities with numerals. This hand-in-hand progression from counting objects to recognizing numerals is a natural way for children to learn the relationship between the two.

Activities for Comparing Numbers

Comparing numbers is a critical mathematical skill that preschoolers must establish before advancing to complex arithmetic. There isn’t a single fail-safe, definite way to teach this skill due to the diverse learning abilities and subjectivity of children’s understanding. Yet a handful of engaging activities have consistently been recognized as effective strategies to help preschoolers grasp this essential pre-math concept.

Number Matching Games

One of my top recommendations to teach numeral recognition is engaging preschoolers in number matching games. These activities stimulate visual learning, reinforcing the connection between quantities and their corresponding numerals.

For instance, you might prepare a set of cards, half marked with numerals from 1 to 10 and the remaining half depicting matching quantities of everyday items. The child’s task is essentially to pair the numeral card with its corresponding quantity card. This hands-on activity makes numeral identification tangible and interactive, sparking the joy of learning.

Comparing Quantities

Another influential activity involves comparing quantities using real-world items. It’s the next logical step on their mathematics journey, following numeral recognition. Encourage them to determine which group has more or less.

Suppose you have a basket of fruits and a plate of cookies. Ask the preschooler, “Which has more, the basket of fruits or the plate of cookies?” This type of activity allows children to visually analyze quantities, facilitating a deeper comprehension of how numbers function in the real world.

These activities lay down a steady groundwork for translating the abstract concept of numbers into something concrete, meaningful, and fun for the child. The textbook knowledge is brought to life, inviting curiosity, encouraging exploration, and instilling a love for numbers in preschoolers.


So there you have it. I’ve shown you how crucial it is for preschoolers to grasp the concept of comparing numbers. It’s not just about rote counting; it’s about understanding the value and relationship of numbers. By using interactive activities like number matching games and comparing real-world items, we make this learning process fun and engaging. It’s all about making numbers tangible and relatable to the real world. This way, we’re not just teaching them numbers; we’re fostering a love for numbers. Remember, when we make learning enjoyable for children, they’re more likely to retain the information and develop a lifelong love for learning. So let’s keep the fun in learning and help our preschoolers master the art of comparing numbers.

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