Math Fact Sorting

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SWBAT identify all of the equal number sentences that match a given answer.

Big Idea

Students work to solve multiple 3 part number sentences and determine if they are equal or not! Students practice using less than, equal to and greater than language!

Hook & Objective

5 minutes

CCSS Context:

This lesson integrates quite a few Common Core standards. Students work to add 3 numbers fluently, applying their understanding of the associative property (1.OA.B3) and using strategies to make adding 3 numbers more efficient (1.OA.A2). Students also apply what they know about the academic vocabulary, "greater than", "less than" and "equal to", which we used when we compared numbers (1.NBT.B3). Students also work together collaboratively throughout the beginning of the lesson, incorporating Speaking and Listening standards.

Review Past Learning

We have been working on adding 3 numbers fluently, and determining which number sentences are equal. Today we are going to do a math fact sort to help us determine whether addends are less than, equal to or greater than a given sum.

Connect to Bigger Picture

This is important because mathematicians think about how number sentences relate to each other. They use terms like "greater than" and "less than", just like we will!


Your thinking job is: Which word would I use to describe the relationship: greater than, less than or equal to?

Opening Discussion

10 minutes

I'll quickly review the meanings of greater than, less than and equal to. I reinforce this academic vocabulary throughout the lesson, encouraging students to use the appropriate terms instead of "bigger than" or "smaller than". This is aligned to the CCSS shift towards students being held accountable for academic vocabulary in all subjects.


My target number is 15. I am trying to determine if my number sentence is less than 15, equal to 15 or greater than 15. 

My number sentence: 9 + 1 + 5

Partner talk: How could you quickly solve this number sentence? By this point, I am anticipating that all students will quickly "make a ten". We have practiced this strategy heavily, so this is the time to reinforce it! 

Share out & Guiding Questions: 

  • I'll have one student share out how they solved this number sentence. We will quickly model and retell this strategy to a partner. 

Guiding Questions:

  • What is the sum of this number sentence?
  • Would I say that 9 + 1 + 5 is greater than 15, less than 15 or equal to 15? Why? 
  • What symbol would I put between these two number sentences? Which "gator" comparison symbol?



Student Cooperative Play

15 minutes

During this part of the lesson, students will play a game in small groups. Common Core emphasizes that students should work collaboratively-this is a college ready skill that students can practice from Kindergarten. 

Game Rules: 

  • Students sit in groups of 4.
  • Each person gets 1 card, each card has a different number sentence on it. 
  • Each student solves their own equation. Then they sort their cards into groups: Less than 15, Equal to 15, Greater than 15
  • When students are done with their first card, they draw another card from the pile.
  • When a group runs out of cards, each group member will choose a card to "check". They will assess that person's work and make sure they agree with the answer and where it goes.


Game Time: See this video for how this looks in action!

I'll give students 7-10 minutes of game time.


Equality Student Share Sort.docx is attached!

I included header cards so each group knows where to put their groups.


Independent Practice

15 minutes

Directions: Students sort the number sentences into 3 groups. They are deciding which number sentences are equal to each other.

Intervention: Students will use cubes to help them solve these number sentences. Students will use the math fact sort available for free from K-5 Math Teaching Resources. These students will determine if number sentences are less than 10, equal to 10, or greater than 10.

Right on Track: Students will do 3 addend number sentences with sums to 20.  Students are deciding if number sentences are less than, equal to or greater than 15. 

Extension: Students use a different sort. They determine if a number sentence is less than 50, equal to 50 or greater than 50. See Student Extension Work Example!

I happened to walk by when 2 students in the extension group were discussing whether or not one student's answer was correct! Watch this video of the discussion-this aligns to CCSS MP3, Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. You see that Jakarin realizes his mistake and can actually explain what misconception he had that led to his mistake!


I'll have students record their thinking on the attached Fact Sort Recording sheet.docx

The Equality Sorts and Number Facts Sort are also attached;

They include the cards for students to sort!


5 minutes

Students come back together and share their sort with a partner. They share one number sentence and why they chose to glue it where they did.