Thursday, April 4, 2013

Greater Than, Less Than Lesson

Butterfly and I have a Greater Than, Less Than Lesson that we'd like to share.
I wanted to introduce this Math concept to Butterfly, so I thought of a bunch of visual fun ways to show it and in turn she grasped the concept easily!

First we started off with piles of books!

Butterfly felt what a "Greater than" pile felt like and then she felt what a "Less than" pile felt like.  This is a great gross motor activity for the lesson, that gets the child moving and acting out the lesson.

We then put the piles of books down on the floor and I showed her my homemade popsicle stick alligator symbol for less than.  I told Butterfly that the alligator likes to have the BIGGER snack!  So always face his open mouth to the bigger number.  I then showed her the equal to symbol if the two piles had the same number of books.

Next, I got out a tray with pom poms to further demonstrate the greater than, less than, and equal to symbols.

Here is a quick little video of the supplies I got together to teach the tray activity part of this lesson:

First we just used the pom poms on each side.  In this picture I put three on one side and one on the other side.  Butterfly, chose the alligator's mouth to eat the bigger pile.

We then added the number cards to each pile to visually see the written numbers with the symbol.

I then took away the pom poms and had just the number equation, so we reviewed that "3 is greater than 1."

Here is a video of part of our tray activity lesson:

We made more stories in the same way with different numbers, also including the equal to symbol.  I taught Butterfly that we only use the equal symbol if the two numbers on both sides are the same.

Another way I taught this lesson is with our Balance and Three Bear Family Counter set.

One side of the balance had more bears than the other side...

so Butterfly would put the correct symbol in between to show greater than or less than.

We did many more equations on our balance, along with equal to, having two balanced sides with the same number of bears.

We moved on to my Hand-Drawn Printables to do some worksheet work, so Butterfly can get used to drawing the symbols herself and actually recording the work.  The first sheet is with coloured pictures.

The second sheet have numbers, with no pictures.

The third sheet you get to use a pair of dice!  Butterfly rolled the pair of dice and wrote the two numbers down on each line, she then had to write the right symbol in between the two numbers.

To get the Hand-Drawn printables I made for this lesson, CLICK HERE.

I hope these ideas help you to teach your children the Math concept of Greater Than, Less Than, and Equal To.  Making it into fun hands-on activities help kids understand the lesson so much faster when they feel like they are "playing" it!

There's MORE!
*Updated:  To get another new fun set of Greater Than, Less Than Printables, CLICK HERE


  1. What a great lesson! You are a natural teacher. My boys will love that alligator!

  2. I love this! The alligators are cute, and the whole lesson is amazing!

  3. I love the different approaches you take to teach a concept!!

  4. I like how you work from the concrete to the abstract,its a great way to teach a young child.Will definitely make the croc and worksheets for my preschool.

  5. About how old is appropriate to try this lesson? Thanks!

    1. Kindergarten age. Just follow your child's interest. If they like the lesson, go with it :) could be anywhere from 4 to 7yrs. I did this lesson for my daughter who is 5 yrs.

  6. Wonderful lesson, well done! My son loves the alligator.
    thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks for the great post. I have a question though. If I start teaching him greater than and less that visually based on the concept of more than and fewer than, When the comparison is between 12 and 11 for example, it won't be much visible to him which one is more. what should I do then? he doesn't have the sense yet.

    1. Before using this lesson, I did a unit on numbers, counting, and one-to-one correspondence. I introduced a number line as well. The children can visualize that 12 is one greater than 11 on the number line. They can then apply the greater than or less than sign based on what they determined from the number line.


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