Comparing Length: Longer and Shorter

Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells Purpose/Skills

  • To compare long and short, longer than and shorter than, longest and shortest

Reference chart for models of length, dough or clay for the extension activity
Enough for each child: heavy yarn or twine of two different colors to represent earthworms (long, longer, longest) and caterpillars (short, shorter, shortest)

Literature Suggestion
Read Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells. After you finish reading, talk about the cake that Max made out of earthworms and the icing that he made with caterpillars. Ask children if they think this story is real or make-believe.

long longer
longest     short
shorter shortest
compare length

Show children how to indicate length with two hands in the air separated by some distance for long, more distance for longer, and even more distance for longest. Do the opposite for short, shorter, and shortest. If children have difficulty, help them make the indicated lengths.


  • Introduce the reference chart to the children. Invite them to identify the lengths.
  • Show children yarn of 3 lengths that represent earthworms, and the concepts of long, longer, longest. As you lay them out, say, "Long, longer, longest." Help children say the words and make the connection between the earthworms on the chart and the yarn.
  • Provide 3 yarn lengths for each child and ask them to pretend these are earthworms and to order them long, longer, longest. Encourage children to say the words.
  • Repeat the same activity with the different color yarn for caterpillars and explore short, shorter, shortest.
Give children dough or clay with which to make earthworms and caterpillars. Provide enough time to have free exploration with the dough or clay. Model how to make long, longer, and longest earthworms and short, shorter, and shortest caterpillars. Ask children to make their own earthworms and caterpillars. Encourage children to talk about their lengths as they make them.

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child can tell the difference between long, longer, longest, and short, shorter, shortest.
  • In Process - Child needs prompting to tell the difference among three lengths.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child does not yet tell the difference among three lengths.

Excerpted from School Readiness Activity Cards. The Preschool Activity Cards provide engaging and purposeful experiences that develop language, literacy, and math skills for preschool children.

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