Comparing: an important life skill

by Kelli Lewis
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Making comparisons is an important skill for life, not to mention a standard for elementary students. Centers can include comparing objects such as buttons, bottle tops, letter tiles, cubes, etc. However, as a class, I’ve found that students enjoy comparing something else even better: each other! Here are some sorting ideas that I’ve used in my classroom before, and the students always ask to do them over and over again.

long hair vs. short hair

Question: Do more students have long hair or short hair?

  1. Estimate. Have the students look around and guess whether they think there are more people in the room who have long hair or short hair.
  2. Observe. Have the students with long hair move to one side of the room and the students with short hair move to the other side of the room. (You can define long hair as below shoulders or below chin– whatever you and your students agree upon.)
  3. Record. Write the numbers of the amounts of long hair and short hair on the board or chart paper.
  4. Compare. Discuss and determine, together as a class, which one is the most and which is the least. Who estimated correctly?

other ideas for comparing:

  • tennis shoes vs. other shoes: Are more students are wearing tennis shoes or other shoes?
  • chairs vs. people: Are more chairs or people in the classroom?
  • jeans vs. other pants: Are more students are wearing jeans or other pants?
  • boys vs. girls: Are more students boys or girls?

And, comparing always leads to a great character lesson, too: It’s important that, as you compare, you don’t accidentally let your comparisons turn into judgments. The fact that we are all different and unique is what makes our class…and our world…so wonderful!

Kelli Lewis is working on her Masters at The University of Georgia, and she is also a regular contributor to A Learning Experience.

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Filed under Academic Success, Activities, Classroom Community, Cooperative Learning

3 responses to “Comparing: an important life skill

  1. connie wiley

    Great math activities Kelli. We also use comparing questions at math calendar during our weekly math graph. You can also put together a cute math glyph with comparing questions. The kids love these activities and I find that they compare in other subjects as well.

  2. Susan

    These are great ideas. They are really good for different ages to do together. The older children can help the younger children. The younger children love thinking they are helping the older children. Susan

  3. peggy

    Thanks Kelli,
    These are great math activities. I also pass out buttons and other solids and have students compare them,put them in groups, and tell the different properties. We do the same for liquids in science. sorting and comparing are great in all subject areas. I know my daughter is in 5th grade and they compared their tennis shoes. She thought it was hysterical. They had a good time sorting them. She usually doesn’t come home talking about science, but she did that day. Anything that gets kids up a moving, sharing and learning it great!