Comparing Large Numbers - Greater Than, Less Than, and Equal To

Comparing large numbers as greater than, less than, and equal to is a second grade Common Core math skill: 2.NBT.4. Below we show two videos that demonstrate this standard. Then, we provide a breakdown of the specific steps in the videos to help you teach your class.

Prior Learnings

Your students should be familiar with the first grade skill of counting up to 120 starting from any number below 120 (1.NBT.1), this skill helps them understand greater or less than values. The second grade skill is also closely linked to the first grade skill of understanding place values (ones and tens) in two-digit numbers (1.NBT.2).

Future Learnings

Comparing large numbers as greater than, less than, and equal to will help your students understand future concepts in third grade. In third grade, your students will learn how to interpret the products of whole numbers (i.e. 8 x 3 is the same as 8 groups of 3 objects each) (3.OA.1). They will also learn to use multiplication and division within 100 while solving word problems in situations that involve “equal groups, arrays, and measurement quantities” (3.OA.3).

Common Core Standard: 2.NBT.4 - Compare two three-digit numbers based on meanings of the hundreds, tens, and ones digits, using >, =, and < symbols to record the results of comparisons

Students who understand this principle can:

  1. Compare 2 three-digit numbers.
  2. Use inequality symbols to compare 2 three-digit numbers. 
  3. Explain how two numbers relate (based on hundreds, tens, and ones) using the >, =, and < symbols.

2 Videos to Help You Teach Common Core Standard: 2.NBT.4

Below we provide and breakdown two videos to help you teach your students this standard.

Video 1: Comparing Two Large Numbers with Active Participation

The video presents 4 pairs of numbers and asks the viewer to identify which number is greater. This video is a great way to get your students actively involved in answering the problems.

After the video goes over the anser, you can have your students do the letter pose on the greater side for 10 seconds. If the numbers are equal, they can do both poses for 10 seconds. 

  1. The first pair of numbers are 189 and 198. The number 198 is greater, so your students can do the pose on that side, which is the letter T. 
  2. 211 and 199 is the second pair, and the pose is the letter L.
  3. 523 and 603 is the third pair, and pose is the letter F.
  4. 866 and 866 is the fourth pair; since they are equal, your students will do both the I and K poses for 10 seconds each.

Video 2: Comparing Numbers Up To 1,000

The video begins by stating the best way to compare large numbers is by comparing each place value, starting from the leftmost digit. Two examples follow demonstrating this concept.

  1. Boddle compares 738 and 396. Because 7 is greater than 3, she concludes that 738 is greater than 396.
  2. The 3 in 396 is replaced with 7, becoming 796. 
    a. 738 is compared to 796. Because the 7s are equal, Boddle moves to the next place value (10s). 
    b. Since 3 is less than 9, Boddle concludes that 738 is less than 796.

Next, the video practices what your students have learned by comparing more numbers. Boddle asks your students to fill in the blank with greater than (>), less than (<), and equal (=). 

  1. 128 and 301 are compared. Boddle starts comparing by looking at the first digits. 
    a. 1 is less than 3; the answer is <.
  2. 512 and 512 are compared. Each digit (in corresponding place values) is equal.
    a. The answer is =.
  3. 681 and 481 are compared. Boddle starts comparing by looking at the first digits.
    a. 6 is greater than 4; the answer is >.
  4. 283 and 250 are compared. Boddle starts comparing by looking at the first digits, since they are the same, she moves onto the tens place. 
    a. 8 is greater than 5; the answer is >.
  5. 701 and 709 are compared. Boddle follows the same method until the ones place.
    a. 1 is less than 9; the answer is <.

Want more practice?

Give your students additional standards-aligned practice with Boddle Learning. Boddle includes questions related to Comparing and Measuring Lengths plus rewarding coins and games for your students to keep them engaged. Click here to sign up for Boddle Learning and create your first assignment today.

*Information on standards is gathered from The New Mexico Public Education Department's New Mexico Instructional Scope for Mathematics and the Common Core website.