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hi does anyone has a good method for explaining ‘more than’ , ‘less than’ to Pri 2 child?

my girl gets confused what the question is phased differently.. eg. 

Qn: What is 20 less than 385?  ans: 385-20 = 365


but when asked:

Qn: 365 is 20 less than _____?   

she tends to relate less than to always ‘minus’. 


Source: Casuarina Primary


Use a reward system, toys or food

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It is of paramount importance that students are able to understand the question. Try putting an equal sign in place of “is” and fill the rest of the information in. 

Qn: What is 20 less than 385? ans: 385-20 = 365

? = 385 – 20 = 365

but when asked:
Qn: 365 is 20 less than _____?

365 = ? – 20

? = 365 + 20 = 385

Does the above help?

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Try to use objects to give her a visual. Snacks or her toys are good. 

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Try this:

  1. Cover the number before the ‘less than’ or ‘more than’. The question becomes “365 is less than ___?”
  2. The question becomes a simpler comparison model now. (Draw a bar for 365, and a longer bar below for unknown (?) since 365 is less than the unknown)
  3. Read question again to put the difference (how much ‘less than’) in the model.

The kid should be able to figure out from the model to add 20 to 365 😀

Hope this helps!

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I think her main problem is understanding the relationship between the two.

Perhaps you can try something like this –

Mommy’s age is two years less than daddy’s.  Who is older?

Your age is two years less than gor gor.  Who is older?

Use other examples…this book has twenty pages less than book B…etc



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To visualise more than and less, you may use the Comparison Modal. (The one short bar and one long bar modal).


To work with sentences, remember the Location 

more than

Any number in front or after more than are Parts. 

Less than

The number after less than is Whole.


Circle the Whole when you see the number.


2 simple Rules 

You can only minus by a Whole.

You can only add with the Parts.





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Read from right to left, and write down the number whenever she reads one, write down + for “more than” and – for less than, and = when she reads “is”.

Taking your 2 examples,

What is 20 less than 385?

Reading from right to left, she should read 385 first.

So write “385

Then read “less than” and write “-“. Now she should have 385 –

Next read 20 and write that down, and she would have 385 – 20

Finally, “is” so write down “=” and she would have 385 – 20 = ______


Example 2

365 is 20 less than _____?

The blank space represents a number, so write it down as it is -> _____

“less than” ->  ______ –

“20” -> _____ – 20

“is” -> _____ – 20 =

“365” -> _____ – 20 = 365


Hope this helps. 🙂

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