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You can do this activity using only two things:
a) the free alligator printables (get them at the end of this post)
b) something to count, like a stack of toys or small math manipulatives (for older kids, you just need a dry erase or chalk board)
Among the three kids (ages 4, 5, and 7) we learned more about:
- number sense
- place value
Learning less than, greater than
First, I created some simple alligator less than, greater than, and equal to printables. After printing on cardstock and laminating, I brought them to the playroom.
We started by getting out our toy food and putting it in small piles that I knew my Four could count. After counting each pile, he identified the larger one and chose which alligator he would need to swallow up the bigger amount. After doing a variety of counting activities over the last year, he can count objects up to about 20 without much difficulty.
My Four had no trouble figuring out greater than/less than for amounts under 10. If your child has trouble, you could draw a simple number line and show him how the larger numbers are farther on the line.
He understood that when the piles had equal amounts, he needed to choose the equal sign.
We also tried simple estimating. I would set out small piles and ask my Four to tell me which was larger without counting. Then he checked his guess.
We used a few toys with my Five too, but it became obvious that to help him work with larger numbers we’d need small manipulatives. I got out my color tiles from my teaching days. After figuring out the answer, I had him read it using the words on the alligator. “24 is greater than 21.”
These simple on the floor activities were far too easy for my Seven, who is going into second grade. I started with some larger numbers to give her practice with place value. When I saw that she knew that “2,465 is greater than 2,456”, I created more challenging problems involving fractions. We started simple with 1/2 and 2/4. With an accompanying illustration, she was able to see that those are equal.
Then I made it even tougher with the above example. This was quite challenging for her, so after a few more problems I let her get back to her reading.
If your child is a little older and is ready for it, use the alligators to compare:
- large numbers
You can laminate the alligators and put adhesive magnets on the back to use on your chalkboard or dry erase board.
After a teacher’s request, I’ve added a set of smaller alligators that you can use for small groups.
Get your free greater/less than pages!
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We’re so glad to hear it, Sheila!
I really appreciate your materials. My grand kids are having fun with them. If you just remember the alligator always tries to eat the larger number no matter if it is on the right or left. His mouth is always trying to eat the larger.
Sometimes kids were taught alligator mouth or birds beak. The beak of the bird always points or pecks at the smaller number.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for offering your ideas FREE! And you make it so easy to print! I appreciate you!
Thank you so much for sharing this greater/less than printable! I was going to make something similar but you saved me time.
We’re going to use these cute gators with playcards/uno cards (wonderful versatile teaching tools that they are), minifigures, popsicle sticks, coupons, pom poms, dice…whatever our hands fall on during math class next week.
I’m so glad you liked this!
Thank you! Im looking forward to using these to introduce greater than/less than to my firsties. what a fun way to learn and practice.
Do you have these available in black and white?
No, I’m sorry, Jennifer, not at this time! Maybe someday I’ll have time to add a black and white option to my old printables, but I don’t think that will be for quite some time.
This was a great resource! My first graders completely got the concept of greater than and less than when I used the alligator analogy. This was the perfect visuals for the hands on activity I planned. I also appreciated the pictures of different ways to use the visuals. I will provide the students with numbers to compare and mini “Baby” GoldFish crackers to show the quantities. Just wanted to share in case anyone wants to try and thank you for sharing at no cost! As a teacher with a limited budget I appreciate it 🙂
I’m so glad this helped, Jasmine! Thanks so much for your feedback! 🙂
I love all of your printables! Thank you for sharing with no strings attached!
You’re welcome, Billie!
Thanks for such a lovely resource, saved me lots of time (teacher).
You’re welcome, Linda! I’m glad this helped you!
Do you happen to have this resource in Spanish?
No – I’m only able to share resources in English at this time.
You are a genius! I really love your work! Congratulations!
I’m glad you like it!
Thank you for this great printable.
You’re very welcome, Susan!
I liked it n m very happy to see this because it helped me to teach my kids thanks.
I’m so glad this was helpful for you, Ayman!
Thanks for this, much easier to print one already made than to reinvent the wheel! Thanks for sharing.
You’re very welcome, Erika!
We are using this to help an autistic student in my classroom. Thank you for the fun resources!
You’re very welcome, Rebecca!
This is great! I didn’t know how to teach my 5 years old this signs and now it looks soo easy. Thank you for your resources and printables. Are very useful!
You’re very welcome, Claudia! You’re right – this is a very simple way to teach greater and less than. 🙂
From today I’m your new fan. I like many activities here, but I find the aligator a confusing concept because looks like the week one eats the strong one. A rhino is more explicit, will look as the many (the strong part) ward off the few .
Thank you for all the ideas, you are a real inspiration!
Deb @ Living Montessori Now
What a fun printable, Anna … and I love your activity using toys! Thanks so much for sharing my post at PreK + K Sharing! I featured your post as the Free Printable of the Day at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and on Pinterest. I also added it to my Free Alligator Printables post. 🙂
Thanks so much for the feature, Deb!
I remember this being a really difficult concept in first grade (not which number was greater, but which way the sign should be)…will definitely use this to teach my own kids!
Yes, I was always confused by this too. I could never remember what to call the sign. Hopefully the printed words on the alligators will help!