Comparing Two-Digit Numbers

Focus Representing numbers on a Counter to
determine which is more or less



n important aspect of number sense is the ability to tell which of two numbers is larger. The Digi-Block program allows children to compare numbers in a variety of ways. For example, to compare 29 and 43, the children can represent the numbers on Counters and then unpack and compare the single blocks one for one. A more advanced version of this same idea is to first compare the blocks-of-10 one for one, knowing that there are 10 single blocks inside of each one. Another way children can compare numbers is to recognize that the larger number is the one that comes later in the count.They can count aloud to see which number is said first. Or, with both numbers shown on Counters, they can choose one and see if they need to add or remove blocks to show the other number. By exploring different approaches over time, children begin to connect a variety of ideas about number, and their understanding of our number system deepens.

® Comparing Groups of Blocks
Have available two Counters, single blocks, blocks-of-10, and empty holders. Write 13 and 28 and have volunteers show each of these numbers on a Counter. Ask,

Which number is larger? How do you know?
Most children will answer correctly, as it takes more blocks-of-10 and more single blocks to show 28 on the second Counter. Ask,

What could you do to make sure?
Have children remove the collections from the Counters and unpack to check. Repeat the activity with a few more pairs of numbers, such as 24 and 13, and 48 and 62. Have children discuss their ideas and demonstrate their techniques.

Loading 13 blocks and 28 blocks on two Counters helps children find which number is more.

For a pair like 48 and 62, children may be distracted by the fact that it takes 12 blocks to show 48 (4 blocks-of-10 and 8 singles) and only 8 blocks to

represent 62 (6 blocks-of-10 and 2 singles). It is important for children to realize that the larger number of a pair is the one that contains more single blocks, not the one that has more large and small blocks. Once children understand that they must compare the total number of single blocks to identify the group that is more or less, they should recognize 62 as the larger number. Then ask,

Of these two numbers, which number do you say first when you count? If you wanted to make the Counter that shows 48 look like the Counter showing 62, would you add blocks or take some away? Why?
Next present the numerals 54 and 58. Again, encourage children to show the numbers on the Counters and identify which is more (or less). Then ask what they could do to be sure. In this case, the children might match the blocks-of-10, thus matching 10 singles at once, and then match the remaining ones. Children need many opportunities to represent numbers and compare them. Some may want to work without the Counter so that they can remove the covers to remind themselves that there are 10 single blocks in each block-of-10. For children who work this way, organizing the remaining single blocks in holders may be helpful.

To compare 41 and 39, some children may organize the blocks in holders off the Counter.

Following several explorations, invite the children to again discuss their comparison techniques. Some children may recognize that on a Counter, one block-of-10 always represents a larger number than any number of smaller blocks. This must be true if packing rules are followed. This is an important insight. To help children think about this ask,

What is the largest number of single blocks you can have on a Counter? Is this more or less than a block-of-10? Can you ever have more single blocks on the Counter than would be in a block-of-10?

Practicing Key Ideas
Load and Compare
Write some two-digit numbers on cards. In pairs, children show each number on a Counter and decide which is more (or less). They can then check their answer by comparing the blocks one for one, unpacking when necessary. Children can record their findings by writing the numbers and drawing a ring around the number that is larger.

In Order
Each day, show three collections of blocks-of-10 and single blocks in bags labeled A, B, and C. Children work together to order the three amounts from least to greatest. Children then record the letters to show the order. Children can also sequence the collections from greatest to least and record that order as well.

Compare It
Using the Digi-Blocks stamps or drawings of the blocks, create 24 cards showing representations of two-digit numbers. The cards are placed face down between two players. Each player turns over a card. The player with the larger number takes the pair. Once all of the cards have been turned, the player with more cards wins the game. Play again, this time with the player who has the smaller number taking the pair.

Assessing Learning
1. Present the numbers 42 and 48. Have the child represent each number with the blocks and tell which is more or less. Does the child • represent the numbers correctly? • unpack to compare? • match like blocks to compare? • answer correctly? 2. Repeat the first task with the numbers 29 and 32. Does the child • unpack to compare? • match like blocks to compare? • answer correctly?


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