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See You Later Alligator, Teaching Greater Than and Less Than

I originally posted this article back on May of 2011, but as I view products on Pinterest or on Teachers Pay Teachers, I feel a need to revisit it. I have seen alligators, fish, movable Popsicle sticks, etc. as ways to teach greater than or less than to children. Even though these may be good visual tools, to be honest, there are no alligators or even fish in mathematics.  Because many students still fail to understand which way the symbol is placed, (once in awhile I have a college student who is confused) here is a different method which you might wish to try. First of all, every child knows how to connect dots; so, let’s use that approach. 

Suppose we have two numbers 8 and 3. Ask the students, “Which number is greater?" Yes, 8 is greater. Let’s put two dots beside that number. 8 : Now ask, “Which number is smaller or represents the least amount?" You are right again. Three is smaller. Let’s put one dot beside (in front of) that number. Now have the students connect the dots.....

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It will work every time! When two numbers are equal, put two dots beside each number and connect the dots to make an equal sign. What makes this method a little different is that the students can visually see which number is greater because it has the most dots beside it; so when reading the number sentence, most of the time it is read correctly.

In a free handout entitled Number Tiles - Math Activities for the Primary Grades a greater than and less than activity is included which can be used over and over again. It's yours for free. Just click on the title to download your free copy.

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The Wolf's Chicken Stew - Celebrating the 100th Day of School

This week is the 100th day of school for my youngest grandson.  He is so-o-o excited because his teacher has many special things planned. I even made him and his sisters a pair of 100 eyeglasses to wear! (See photo below.)

His teacher gave him a plastic bag in which he is to place 100 items. Because he has to count them out, I decided it was time that he learned to count by tens.  We linked ten multi-link cubes together and made ten different groups of ten, each a different color.  When it is time for him to count out his items, he will show his classmates that it is much quicker to count by tens to get to 100.

I also sent a book with him for his Pre-K teacher to read, The Wolf's Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza. It deals with numeration and number sense and is appropriate for grades PreK-3. You might be unfamiliar with the book, but it's about a wolf named Wolf (a wanna-be bad guy) who wants a fat hen for his delicious chicken stew.  Before seizing Mrs. Chicken, he decides to fatten her up first.  He is a great cook; so, he spends the next few nights in the kitchen making 100 scrumptious pancakes as well as 100 donuts, and a 100 pound cake and anonymously leaving them on her porch for Mrs. Chicken to eat. However, at the end of the book, Wolf unwittingly makes 100 new friends.

I hope you can locate this book to read to your students.  If you do, here are some fun ideas and engaging activities you might try.
  • Rewrite the ending of the story.
  • Talk about how this wolf is different from a real wolf. 
  • Retell the story using different food items that the wolf might have used to fatten up Mrs. Chicken. 
  • Using connecting links, connect 100 of them. Then find items in the classroom that weigh 100 links using a balance scale. 
  • Use the picture where the wolf is making pancakes and write the recipe. 
  • Using the picture of the 100 pound cake, write as many words as possible that describe the cake. 
  • Hide 100 "chicks" (made out of paper) around the classroom and see if the children can find them all.
  • List reasons why this is fictional story and not a real story.
Whatever you do, have fun with your students.  Remind them that they are "1 out of 100"! And a BIG thank you to each of you for giving 100% to teaching!