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Having Fun with Greater than and Less than Math Activities

By Kathy Foust

Greater than and less than math activities are a must for any elementary education curriculum. These activities will drive the point home while allowing students to enjoy their educational time.

The Alligator

Greater than and less than math activities do very well when they incorporate the alligator. In case you have forgotten, the alligator mouth opens wide for large numbers when working with greater than and less than concepts. Students have an easier time remembering that the alligator always goes for the larger item with his mouth wide open if they actually get to practice that concept. One way for them to remember it is by reminding them that the alligator can't get anything into his mouth if it isn't open. He's greedy and always goes for the group with the most items. Use this alligator activity to help create an alligator that the students can use for hands on activities.

The Activities

These simple and fun activities were created to make learning fun when it comes to greater than and less than math activities. Try using them in your classroom. Some of these activities require use of the alligator project.

Snack Time

During snack time, pass out some crackers or cookies. Ask students to make groups of their snacks. Then ask them to put the alligator in the group that has the most snacks in it. This is a great time to explain that the alligator loves to go for the largest pile always!

Making Groups

Give students each a group of plastic teddy bears or chips to play with. Let them play for a few minutes and then ask them to separate the chips into two piles, one with more chips than the other. Ask them to lay the alligator on the pile that is the "greater than" pile.

Board Work

Write pairs of numbers on the board. When you point to the number that is "greater than", students need to raise their hands with the alligator in them.

Count vs. Weight

For this activity you will need two jars, some plastic balls and some marbles. The balls and marbles should be about the same size.You will also need a scale.

Put the marbles in one jar and the balls in another jar. Make sure the jar with the plastic balls has more than the jar of marbles. Ask the students which jar has more than the other. Then, weigh each jar and write down the weight of each one. Ask the students which one is "more than" the other one. Discuss the reason for this. Talk about the difference in weights of objects as well as the concepts of how many vs. how heavy.

These are just some relatively simple activities that can be done to practice greater than and less than skills. Test what your students enjoy and let them help you to think of new ways to practice these concepts.