Greater or Less?

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Students will determine within number sets which digit is "greater" or "less".

Big Idea

Students apply their number sense in this task, and help Eddie decide which numbers are "more" or "less".


15 minutes

To get students settled after lunch, and ready for math. I read the story, More or Less by Stuart J. Murphy. This is a fun picture book, where the main character, Eddie, must compare people's ages. The kids love to follow along as I read, and help Eddie. This book also touches on the concept of yesterday's math lesson, and serves as a good review.


This lesson builds upon the introduction to the terms "more" and "fewer" from the previous day's lesson. Today we are working on the same concept only using the terms "greater" and "less". I feel it is important to use a variety of vocabulary with my students. Teaching various vocabulary terms gives students a toolbox to draw from. Many standardized tests use different terms for the same concepts.

To begin this lesson, I ask students to remind me what we discussed yesterday. We quickly review what "more" and "fewer" mean. I tell my class that today we will be working on the same concept, only we will use the words "greater" and "less".

I display a number line on the board. I like to have a number line to give students a visual point of reference. I point to the numerals 12 and 9. I tell my students that 12 is greater than 9, and ask them if they know why. The typical response was that 12 is more of something than 9, so it is bigger or greater. In addition, I point out that on the number line, 12 is further down than 9, which makes it greater. I follow this procedure again with the numerals 17 and 13. 

After this brief warm-up, I display today's task. The top portion gives sets of numbers and directs students to circle the greater number. The bottom portion, gives students sets and directs them to circle the number that is less.

I then complete 3 sets of numbers that are "greater than", and 3 sets of numbers that are "less than" with the class. I do this by calling on students to come up and point to the number that is "greater" or "less".  I also ask them to explain why. I have included a photo of the 6 problems we completed together. Here is a photo. You will notice, I used yellow for the "greater than" set and orange for the "less than" set. I was hoping that by distinguishing the two portions with different colors, it would save students from getting confused.


Independent Work

15 minutes

Once we have completed the 6 examples together, I send students off to work independently. I keep our example page displayed to aid students. This material is still new, so I want them to have my example page as a guide.

As students are working, I pull a small group of students that I feel might need extra help. In this small group, I make sure to have number line displayed to help.

Overall, the class did really well with this concept. I was happy to hear that some of the kids picked up on the number line, and how to use that as a tool. I have included student video of a child who did use the number line to help her.