Comparison Conundrums comparative reasoning task cards + printables (set b)

Rogue Algorithm
Grade Levels
3rd - 5th
Formats Included
  • PDF
19 pages
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Rogue Algorithm


Your kids will be wild about this animal-themed task card set that focuses on multiplicative vs. additive comparisons. Each of the 32 cards presents a “context clue”-type story that compares attributes of two animals – weight, length, lifespan, etc. – and students have to reason what the missing numbers are. With this “print-and-go” resource, you’ll have everything you need to develop, strengthen, and assess your students’ understanding of the difference between multiplicative and additive comparisons.

NOTE: This set of resources is available in a money-saving bundle with three other products that focus on comparative reasoning. The bundle contains three different sets of task cards and printables, a set of five I Have…Who Has? and accompanying printables, and 2 bonus sets of I Have…Who Has? cards that are only available in the bundle. Purchase the bundle here and save 20% off the cost of the individual products!


Common Core State Standards for Mathematics addressed:
Operations & Algebraic Thinking (4.OA)
• Multiply or divide to solve word problems involving multiplicative comparison, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem, distinguishing multiplicative comparison from additive comparison. (4.OA.2)

• reference sheet
• 32 task cards
• task card answer sheet and key
• 8 self-checking “answer cards”
• 4 assessment activities
• rubric and answer key for assessment activities

NOTE: This set is a follow-up to Set A of my Comparison Conundrums task card set. That set addressed the same concept of multiplicative vs. additive reasoning, but in the context of straight-forward word problems. If you are looking for some materials to use as an introduction to multiplicative vs. additive reasoning, you can check out Set A here.

About the Cards

The cards in this set present “number stories” – sets of sentences that give facts about the animal kingdom, describing one animal’s attributes, such as weight, height, or number of teeth, in relation to those of another animal. In each story, one or more of the numbers have been removed, and the students are asked to use context clues to figure out the missing numbers, choosing among four numbers provided in a number bank. Some of the comparisons are multiplicative and some are additive, and since the numbers provided in the number bank were chosen to reflect both types of comparisons, it will take some thoughtful reasoning for your students to figure out which numbers fit the story and which do not. In addition, your students will be called upon to use all four operations as they work through the cards.

The majority of the cards use single digit factors/addends and double-digit products/sums, while a couple cards use sets of numbers that involve multiples of 10 (e.g., 30, 5, and 150). Since the numbers lend themselves to mental computation, your students can focus on the relationship between the numbers in each story rather than the process of multiplying, dividing, adding, and subtracting. The first 16 cards present stories with only one missing number, and the second 16 cards up the challenge level by requiring students to identify two missing numbers.

Please check out the preview to see all of the materials up close!

Using the Cards

The leveled nature of the cards allow for easy differentiation for student needs. You can choose to have all the students complete the first 16 cards, which only require the identification of one missing number, and then the second 16, which have two missing numbers. Alternately, you can have some students work on cards 1 through 16 while those students who are more proficient with multiplicative and additive comparisons can work on cards 17 through 32. Perhaps you might mix the two halves together, so that students can alternate between cards with one blank and cards with two blanks.

There are lots of ways in which you can implement the task cards beyond the suggestions above. You can have the students work on them independently, working through the task cards on their own. The students can work on them in pairs or small groups, completing a given number of cards in one or more sessions. You can use them in centers, having the students complete 6-8 task cards a day over the course of the week. You can even use them as a variation of “problem of the day”, giving each student 1 sheet of 4 cards to glue in their journals and solve, one sheet per day for eight days.

Reinforcing the Concept

You may choose to introduce or follow-up the cards with the included reference sheet. The reference sheet presents situations, claims, and models related to multiplicative and additive comparisons, as well as some questions directed at the students aimed at pushing them to reason about multiplicative and additive situations. I designed this resource not as a standard reference sheet with rules and procedures, but as an interactive tool, providing a springboard for a class discussion and some journal writing about comparative situations. Have your students glue the reference in their journal, project it using your computer or document camera, then work through the examples and questions. Have your students use the think-pair-share strategy to discuss their thinking prompted by the questions, and then respond in their math notebooks or math journals. This scaffolded approach to communication – student-to-student, followed by student-to-class, followed by student writing – is a great way to build students’ thinking about mathematical concepts, to involve all students in the communication process, and to provide a rich bank of ideas so that when it comes time to write, all students will have something substantive to write about.

Assessing Student Understanding

The four provided activity sheets can be used to evaluate student understanding of multiplicative vs. additive comparisons. I designed the first pair of activities to be similar to the cards, presenting “context clue” stories that require students to select numbers from a number bank to place in blanks in the stories. These first two activities are formatted similarly, and have similar types of questions, though the numbers on each are different. The similar formatting allows for easy use as pre/post assessments, though you can use these activities in a variety of ways – guided practice, homework, center assignments, or any other purpose that fits your teaching style or classroom routines.

For more practice with the concept of multiplicative vs. additive comparisons, please check out the other related resources I have available –

Comparison Conundrums math story problems task cards + printables (set a)

Comparison Conundrums math logic problems task cards + printables (set c)

Multiplication Madness "I Have...Who Has?" cards + printables set

I hope your students enjoy these resources and are able to build their proficiency with decimals. – Dennis McDonald
Total Pages
19 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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