Lesson 13

Use Bar Graphs to Compare

Lesson Purpose

The purpose of this lesson is for students to make sense of and solve Compare problems using the structure of a bar graph and equations.

Lesson Narrative

In grade 1, students use the relationship between addition and subtraction to solve and represent Compare problems. They create diagrams and write equations to represent how they think about the quantities within the Compare problems. In this lesson, students interpret bar graphs and use their visual structure to compare quantities. They write equations to represent comparisons and connect these equations to the structure of the bar graph (MP2). In upcoming lessons, students will use bar graphs to make sense of tape diagrams that represent Compare problems.

  • Representation
  • MLR8

Learning Goals

Teacher Facing

  • Solve Compare problems with an unknown difference within 20.
  • Write equations to represent Compare problems.

Student Facing

  • Let’s use bar graphs to solve Compare problems.

Required Preparation

CCSS Standards


Lesson Timeline

Warm-up 10 min
Activity 1 15 min
Activity 2 20 min
Lesson Synthesis 10 min
Cool-down 5 min

Teacher Reflection Questions

In future lessons, students will make sense of tape diagrams to represent Compare problems.


How does the work with the bar graphs today help build students’ understanding of this more abstract diagram?

Suggested Centers

  • Sort and Display (1–3), Stage 2: Picture or Bar Graphs (Addressing)
  • Shake and Spill (K–2), Stage 5: Cover (up to 20) (Supporting)

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