Math Background

Compare and Order Whole Numbers to 100: Overview

In comparing and ordering numbers, you want to move children from counting by rote to understanding what the numbers tell them. You no longer want the child to simply count, but to understand that 7 comes after 6, before 8, is greater than the numbers that come before it, and less than the numbers that come after it. The activities presented here are written for the numbers 0 – 10, but as the children become proficient in comparing and ordering those numbers, adapt the lessons for larger numbers. As you assess the children, determine how you want to group the numbers. One possible suggestion is 0 – 10, 0 – 50, and 0 – 100.

Counting up is easier than counting back. As you have children count, include activities that cover both skills. You might have children try counting up and back between two numbers, such as starting at 4 and counting up to 9 and back to 4. Encourage children to choose two other numbers to count between and to keep a rhythm going as they do the counting. You might also want to have children hold large number cards and sit on chairs at the front of the room. As they count up, they can stand up; and as they count back, they can sit down.

Have children act out putting numbers in order. Give each child a number card to hold or to wear. Make the numbers large enough to be seen from a distance. Then starting with a given number, have the children put themselves in order as their number comes up. Have the children try ordering the numbers both forward and backward.

As with the activity above, use large number cards to practice numbers that are just before, just after, and between. Begin with a number and have children with the number that is just before or just after take their places beside the number. Do a similar activity with the number that is between two given numbers. You may also do these activities by placing the cards in the chalk tray and having children rearrange them.

Another idea you may want to try is to make a floor number line and a large wall number line. Children can use the floor number line to stand on as they order and compare numbers, or they can use the large wall number line to place their number cards. In addition, use cubes, bean sticks, or base-ten blocks when you are ready to compare and order larger numbers. They help children “see” the numbers.


Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 1