It Doesn't Matter-Comparing 11-20 with Less and Equal

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Students will be able to compare numbers (11-20) represented by a ten frame or base ten blocks to determine which one has less or equal.

Big Idea

More is a familiar concepts for kindergarteners. Less can often be more challenging. This interactive lesson will allow students to practice this concept with some familiar friends!


10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need the book, The Great Block Battle.  This book was also used in the previous lesson, "The Block Battle".   I print the book on a colored printer and laminate the pages for durability.  I bind it with a comb binder, but book rings or stapling would also work,  You will also need an overhead marker or dry erase marker for the students to write in the book.

Before the lesson, I compose a "letter" from Becky and Bart to the students.  I gather my students by my big chair and read it to the students.  This is what the letter says,

Dear Kindergarteners,

We have been arguing about who has more blocks.  We haven't been very nice to each other  We like being friends, but when we argue, it hurts our friendship.  We decided it doesn't matter who has more blocks.  So, we want you to go back to our book and find out who has less or fewer blocks.  Can you do that?

Love, Becky and Bart.

Page 2:  I skip to page two of the book.  I changing the wording of the book to ask the students to compare with fewer or less.  I ask the students, who has fewer or less red blocks, Bart or Becky?  I invite a student up to Bart's blocks and another one to count Becky's.  I remind the students that they can count a full stack of blocks as ten and count on from there. The students record the answer in the squares on the page.  I have the class count with me to check their answers.

Page 3: Now let’s count and compare.  Who has fewer or less green blocks? Again, two students are invited up to count and record the blocks with the class checking.

Page 4: Let’s count the blocks on the shelves.  Who has fewer or less?  Continue inviting students up to count.  I remind them that a full ten frame is ten.

Page 5: How about the blocks on these shelves?  Who has fewer or less?  Continue inviting students up. 

Page 6:  Thanks for helping us compare.  Sometimes Bart has fewer and sometimes Becky has fewer.  I ask the students what is going to happen next.  They know!

Page 7:  Watch out!  

Page 8:  Speech Bubbles:  I think we should just throw them in the toy box in the future.  Not again!

We then move to our SMARTBoard spots to continue the lesson.


20 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my Smartboard.  If you have a Smartboard, the Comparing Numbers with Base Ten and Ten Frames (Less) Notebook File can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  Click here to download. There is also a PDF of Slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson.

I gather my students in front of the Smartboard.  I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.

I open the first slide (Smartboard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques (click here to learn more about SIOP).  I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective
I can compare two numbers on a ten frame or with base ten blocks and tell which one is less.

Language Objective
I can tell a friend which group has less on a ten frame and base ten blocks.


We then continue with the rest of the slides.

Slide 2:  You did a great job telling which group of blocks had more.  Can you do the same thing with less?

Slide 3:  Count and write the number in the box.  Circle the one that has less. I invite two students up to count the blocks.  I invite another students to circle the one that has less.  We then summarize their work with a sentence...14 is less than 17.

Slide 4 and 5:  We continue as in slide 3. 

Slide 6:  This one might be tricky!  Count and write the number in the box.  Circle the one that has less.  Uh Oh!! Is there one that has less?  I invite students up to count the blocks.  The numbers are the same.  Do you remember what we say when the numbers are the same? That's right.  We say they are equal.  When they are equal, we circle both numbers.  

Slide 7:  Now let's try with a ten frame.  Count and write the number in the box.  Circle the one that has more.  I invite students up to the Smartboard to count as in the previous slide.  Another student circles the ten frame that has more.  We summarize their work with a comparatives sentence as above. 

Slide 8 and 9: Continue as above.

Slide 10:  It is now turn and talk time.  Turn and Talk allows my English Learners to practice their academic language with a peer. The students hold hands with their assigned Turn and Talk partner and lift their hands in the air so I can check that everyone has a partner.   I ask them the question, Can you tell who has less without counting?  Who?  Tell how you know. I give the students time to talk with their partners.  When I can see that the conversation has ended.  I invite a student to share.  The student says, "You can tell Becky has less because Bart has more spots on the ten frame filled in.  Becky's is almost full." I repeat the answer for the class, Becky has fewer blocks than Bart.

Do not close the Smartboard file.  You will need it in the guided practice section of this lesson.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

For the guided practice portion of the lesson, you will need the Smartboard file from the previous lesson.  You will also need the Becky and Bart cards included as PDF with the lesson.  Each student needs a Becky and a Bart.  I run the cards on a colored printer and laminate them for durability.

I distribute the cards to the students and I tell them.  We are going to compare who has more blocks, Becky or Bart.  I am going to show you pictures of their blocks.  If Becky has less or fewer, you will hold her card up.  If Bart has less or fewer, you will hold his card up.  

We start with slide number 11 of the Smartboard Lesson that was used in the Instruction portion of this lesson.   I ask the students, Who has less, Becky or Bart?  The students hold up their cards to show their answers.  We then put their answer into a sentence to reinforce vocabulary development..."Bart has less than Becky." (MP2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively.)

These cards give me a quick visual check of the students' understanding of the concept of less.  After we have completed the slides, I collect their Becky and Bart cards for future use.

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

15 minutes

For this lesson, you will need the Comparing Number with Ten Frames and Base Ten-Less activity sheet included as a PDF with this lesson.  You will also need the Numbers 11-20 for Activities also included as a PDF.  You will need one copy per student.  I run half on one color and the other half on a different color paper so they do not get mixed up so easily at the tables while the students are working.  I cut the numbers apart and put them in small brown paper bags for the students to draw cards out of.  You can have the students use their pencils to fill in the ten frame or give the students ink pads and have them use their pencil erasers as a stamp to mark in the ten frames.

I distribute the activity sheet to the students and have them write their names at the top and then put their pencils down  I tell the students, we are going to practice comparing numbers with more.  Let's practice a problem together.  I reach into the bag and draw out a card.  I ask the students what it is.  They say 12.  Now I want you to write this number in the first space on your recording sheet.  Now, fill out the ten frame so it matches that number.  I circulate around the room to make sure the students are filling in the ten frame correctly. 

When they are done, I draw a second number out.  I ask the the students what the number is.  They say 15.  I have them write that number in the other open spot and again fill out the ten frame.  When everyone is done, I ask, which ten frame has fewer spaces filled out, the one with 12 or the one with 15?  The students say, "12".  That's right.  Now, I want you to circle the number 12 because now we know that 12 is more than 15.

The students do quite well with the practice problem so I then have them continue on their own.  I tell them to draw one number out, record it and then put it back in the bag.  They can then draw the next number.  I have them put the number back in the bag so there is a chance they will draw the same number in a row, so they can practice the concept of equal.  I tell them when they have both ten frames done, they should compare them and circle the one that has less.  I tell them that if they have numbers that are the same of equal, they should circle both numbers.

I circulate around the room while the student are working.  When they are done, they show me their work and then put it in their mailbox.