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The Common Core – Counting and Cardinality Pt. 3

by Early Math Counts

The 3rd part of the first standard focuses on comparison greater than, less than, or equal to (the same).

Compare numbers.

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.C.6 Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, e.g., by using matching and counting strategies.1
  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.CC.C.7 Compare two numbers between 1 and 10 presented as written numerals.


When small groups of objects are presented to young children, unless they are very different (1 toy car next to 10 toy cars), they may not be able to see the difference in quantity right off the bat.  Remember, they are confused by appearances so if you put 3 large cars next to 5 small cars, the child may believe that the 3 large cars are “more” than the 5 small cars, because they look like more i.e., they take up more room so in the child’s mind that is “more”.

There is a developmental process that needs to shift for the child to conserve quantity.  This often does not happen until the kindergarten year, and sometimes even after that.  However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t provide children with as much experience as possible in comparing quantity.

When distributing items to children, ask them to compare who got more, who got the same and who got less.  Using their counting skills and one-to-one correspondence, they may be able to count the items and determine the answers.  If they are 3 and under, they may simply guess.  If they are able to count, you can use a number line to help them see which number is bigger or great and therefore, “more”.  The best way to reinforce the above concepts is to compare numbers frequently throughout the day, so you can maximize children’s exposure to the concepts, use as many visual cues as you can so they can access different ways of knowing, and give them credit for trying.

Make sure you provide lots of written numbers to be “read” around the room.  If your program is filled with written words, try and match the words that children are exposed with the same quantity of written numerals.  This will make a huge difference in gaining familiarity with written numerals.

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