Introducing ‘More’ and ‘Less’

This is a difficult concept for a toddler. They use the language or more all the time “I want more pasta Mummy” but the concept of less is harder. Use the language as much as possible when they are playing. When eating or playing with toys, ask your child who has more and who has less.

Stage One

The first stage is to play with water or food as this is what they can relate to. They can tell you which cup of tea or plate of food has “more”.

Your child might use words like “more” and “a lot” to describe the amounts of objects.

The Tea Party
  1. Set up a tea party. The adult pretends to be the animals.
  2. Pour tea into the cups for the animals to drink tea from.
  3. The animals drink the tea and they all then ask for more.
  4. More tea is given, but to use the language of less, some of the animals say they have too much tea and they would like less.
  5. Your child would then empty some of the tea into the bucket to consolidate their understanding of less.

During all of this play we were using the language of more, less, too much, full and empty. If possible, my toddler would have spent hours pouring the tea for her animals!

I would do this in different scenarios – a tea party with water, a picnic with sandwiches, or eating pasta using similar language of more and less.

Stage Two

The second stage is to compare quantities. This means that your child will look at two different amounts and explain which one has more and which one has less. This is difficult and requires a lot of repetition and practice!

More or Less Blocks
  1. Count together with your child as you build a tower using 7 blocks. Place the number 7 card beside it.
  2. Count together with your child as you build a tower using 3 blocks. Place the number 3 card beside it.
  3. Discuss which has more (the larger number) and which has less (the smaller number).
  4. Ask your child to place the ‘More’ card by the tower with more blocks.
  5. Ask your child to place the ‘Less’ card by the tower with less blocks.
  6. Challenge them by asking ‘How do you know that 7 is more than 3?’ (you work towards the answer that ‘7 is the larger number’).

Building towers of blocks where your child can see the tower being physically bigger help with understanding there are more.

Stage Three

The third stage is for your child to be able to give you more and less of a quantity of objects.

They can tell you “one more” than a given number up to 5 and then to 10.

Stickers in Circles
  1. Draw 2 circles and ask your child to stick more stickers in one circle and less in the other.
  2. The easiest way to do this is ask your child to ask your child to choose a number e.g. 6 and stick 6 stickers into the ‘More’ circle.
  3. Then ask them what number is less than 6 and stick that number of stickers in the less circle.

Other examples for stage 3 could include:

  • Make pizza together, divide it in half an put more ham on one side and less on the other and the same with the other toppings.
  • Bake biscuits and decorate one with more spots and one with less.
  • Encourage your child to place stickers in a line as this helps them count one number for each sticker. Make sure you write the number down too so they can see the link between the number of stickers and the number itself.
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