How to Put Numbers in Order

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  • 0:01 Numbers
  • 0:49 Comparing Numbers
  • 2:45 From Smallest to Largest
  • 4:14 From Largest to Smallest
  • 6:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

After watching this video lesson, you will know how to order numbers from smallest to largest and from largest to smallest. You will also know how to compare numbers to figure out which goes first and which goes last.


We use numbers all the time. Numbers represent an amount or value that we are talking about. For example, when we say we have 2 puppies, it means that we have not one puppy, but two puppies. When we order food at a restaurant, we may also give a number. We might say, 'give me a number 3, please.' This means that we are ordering the third item, or often the third combo meal, on the menu.

In this lesson, we'll talk about ordering numbers. We'll learn about placing them in order from least to greatest and the other way around. Yes, this is just like the numbers on the menu. They are in order from least to greatest. You first see option 1, followed by option 2, then option 3, and so on. We will see how we can do this with a random group of numbers that are given to us.

Comparing Numbers

Say we need to organize some index cards that we found. Each index card has a small number written in the upper right corner. This number tells us in what order the index cards go. We have five index cards with these numbers: 4, 10, 8, 2, and 1.

How do we put these in order from least to greatest? This is called ascending order. To put these in ascending order, we need to compare the numbers to each other. We need to figure out which number is greater than another, as well as which number is smaller than another.

Let's begin with the first two numbers, the 4 and the 10. Which one is greater? If these numbers represented the amount of candy we have in our candy drawer, which one will give us more candy? The 10 gives us more candy, so 10 is greater than 4. This means that the 4 is smaller than the 10. We know that we need to write the 4 before the 10.

Now, what about the next number, the 8? We need to compare the 8 to the 4 and the 10. Compared to the 4, the 8 is greater, but compared to the 10, it is smaller. This means that we need to write the 8 in between the 4 and the 10 like this: 4, 8, 10.

Now, what about the 2? The 2 is the smallest when compared to the 4, the 10, and the 8, so we need to write the 2 before the numbers of 4, 8, and 10.

Finally, what about the 1? When comparing the 1 to all the other numbers, we see that it is now the smallest since it is even smaller than the 2. Our index cards in proper order are now 1, 2, 4, 8, and 10.

Let's look at a couple more examples.

From Smallest to Largest

Order the numbers 149, 231, 85, 589, and 900 from least to greatest.

We need to compare the numbers to one another. Beginning with the first two numbers, the 149 and 231, we see that the 231 is larger, so the 149 comes before the 231.

Next, the 85. The 85 is smaller than both the 149 and the 231, so the 85 comes before both of these numbers. Now we have 85, 149, and 231.

Next, what about the 589? Comparing this number to 85, 149, and 231, it is larger than all of them. We write the 589 at the end of the list. Our list is now 85, 149, 231, and 589.

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