Early Stage 1 – taller/shorter and near/far

Use comparative language to describe length; Compare lengths by direct comparison; Describe distance using every day language; Use direct and indirect comparisons and explain their reasoning.


Students can:

  • use comparative language to describe length
  • compare lengths by direct comparison
  • describe distance using everyday language
  • use direct and indirect comparisons and explain their reasoning.

Activities to support the strategy

At this stage students need hands on experiences with comparing length and distances of familiar objects and in familiar locations. Students need to first explore comparing items directly where they can pick up both items to compare them. They also need to have experiences with indirect comparison, i.e. two lines drawn on the floor that cannot be moved. This develops their visualisation of length and distance, for example:

  • ‘I think the red line is longer than the blue line because if I imagine putting the blue line on top of the red one, there is a bit left over’

Activity 1: am I taller or shorter?

Students move independently around the classroom and identify three objects that are taller than or shorter than themselves. Record by drawing and labelling.

Alternatively, students choose a referent such as their desk and find three things that are shorter than, longer than, higher than their desk.

Activity 2: who’s closer, who’s further?

Students stand and position themselves around the classroom. The teacher stands in the middle of the classroom and asks students:

  • Who is closer to me? Ben or Jake?
  • A student is selected and answers, for example, ‘Ben is closer to you and Jake is further away’.
  • The teacher can then ask the student to explain their thinking.

Alternately, the teacher stands in the middle of the classroom and asks students to make up sentences to describe the distance between two students, for example:

  • Billy is the furthest away from Talia.
  • When asked to explain why, for example. ‘…because Billy is in the very back corner of the room and Talia is at the front’.

Activity 3: distance activities

Provide students with a map of the classroom. Ask students to draw different objects. for example:

  • draw a chair near the teachers’ desk
  • draw yourself far away from the classroom door
  • draw a book close to the reading corner

Provide students with a sheet of paper and cut out pictures of items/ objects from your classroom (for example, a picture of a desk, a chair, a bookcase, a door a window, a student).

Ask students to paste the pictures on the paper wherever they like. Then ask the students to write a sentence about the distance between two of the pictures.

Sentence starters may assist the students:

  • The chair is furthest away from the…
  • The student is closest to the…
  • The chair is closer to the… than the …
  • Students could also verbally answer questions like:
  • What is closest to the window?
  • What is further away from the bookcase- the chair or the student?


Australian curriculum

ACMMG006 Use direct and indirect comparisons to decide which is longer, and explain their reasoning using everyday language

NSW syllabus

Mae-9MG Length: use everyday language to describe length, for example. long, short, high, tall, low; use everyday language to describe distance, for example,. near, far, nearer, further, closer; use comparative language to describe length, for example,. longer, higher, taller than, shortest, lower than, longest, the same as; Identifies an object that is longer or shorter than another, for example, 'Find an object longer than this pencil' (Communicating)

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