Using Comparison Signs,

Usual Year Group Learning: Year 1+

Your child should know how to use comparison signs including < less than, = equals and > more than.

They should be fluent in using them within equations such as:

  • 53 + 45 = 98
  • 53 + 45 < 100
  • 53 + 45 > 90

It’s also important that children understand they can be in any position within the equation:

  • 100 > 53 + 45

and that their direction will change accoridingly.

Finally, children should understand that these signs are comparing the numbers OR equations either side. They should also be able to read and write statements such as:

  • 43 + 55 = 53 + 45
  • 43 + 55 < 40 + 60
  • 43 + 55> 100 – 10

The common problem that children have is not being sure about which way the signs face. I usually overcome this by demonstrating a hungry crocodile who always wants to eat the biggest amount.

Have some more fun when supporting your child with comparison signs. Make your own crocodiles (or use our signs) and use the weight of kitchen cupboard items such as tins, packets and bottles to see what crocodile would prefer. This way your child starts to become more fluent in units of measure too.

Essential Knowledge
  • The ‘mouth’ of greater than/ less than always points to the greatest amount
  • The equals sign = does not just mean ‘write your answer here’. It shows balance on either side
What to Ask Your Child
  • What symbol would you use to make this statement correct? 50 + 40 _____ 100
  • How could you write 53 is greater than 38?
  • Do these calculations balance? Should we use an equals sign to show that?
  • How do these two calculations/ amounts compare?
Useful Resources