Crocodiles Love to Eat the Most

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SWBAT compare numbers using the symbols for greater than, less than, and equal to.

Big Idea

Students get very confused when asked to use >,<, and = to compare numbers. This lesson will show students how to make the crocodile eat the biggest number and free their mind to compare numbers and not focus on which symbol is the correct one to use.

Rev Them Up

5 minutes

I build stories into some of my math lessons to provide my little ones connections and help them memorize ideas.  The common core standards for first grade expect our little ones to be able to compare numbers and record their answers using symbols >,=,<. (1.NBT.B.3). In this lesson, you will be introduced to Fred the crocodile and in the process teach your students how to compare numbers. Watch the video in the resource section to see Fred's connection with today's math lesson. This will help you prepare for anything your student's may say or connections they may make during your story telling time.  

Tell the students the following story of the greedy crocodile.

A long time ago there was a crocodile named  Fred.  Fred was born greedy and he always wanted the most of everything.  If his family went for ice cream, he wanted the most scoops.  If they went to the park, he wanted to go down the slide more times than anyone else.  When he started school his teacher taught him all about the number line and he couldn't believe how many numbers there were.  There were way more numbers than alphabet letters.  He decided if he ever had to pick between numbers, he would always pick the number that would give him more.  He decided the biggest number would always be what he wanted.

Whole Class Interaction

10 minutes

Need: Print the Greater than, Less than, Equals posters. You will only need a teacher's copy and use them for a whole class demonstration.  

Check out my video to see a short clip of how I introduce students to the symbols for greater than and less than using Fred the Crocodile. Show each number card to the class and ask for volunteers to tell you the name of each number. My goal is for them to notice there is a structure to the problems we are solving. (MP7). There will always be a smaller number, larger number, and one that lands in the middle of the others. I want them to see this structure and use it to solve similar problems.

Now show the students the equals symbol and ask them what it is called.  After receiving the correct answer ask students what it means.  You are looking for an answer along the lines of "same", "numbers are the same", or "they are the same."

Now show the students the greater than poster and draw the same symbol on the board. Add to the symbol and make it look like a crocodile head.  Add teeth, snout, and head.

Now do the same with the less than symbol.  Make it look like Fred's head and mouth.  Tell the students Fred will always want to eat the biggest number so we have to draw his mouth open and ready to eat the number with more.

Pick volunteers to come up and hold two of the number signs and pick a third volunteer to come up and pick which Fred sign or equals symbol would go between the numbers.  I use the kids to get them involved.  It would be very easy for me to draw something on the board and ask for answers, but by physically giving them something to hold and asking for volunteers they interact with the problem and me.  It livens the room up and helps them focus.  I also split it up by having the first two kids come up to hold numbers then ask for a third to help with the answer to emphasize to the kids they have to make a decision to solve this problem. I want them to understand they have 3 different choices and must pick the one that compares the numbers.

Make sure to ask the students after each problem if there are any questions.  Continue to check for understanding and make sure all the students understand the procedure before advancing to independent work.


Independent Practice

10 minutes

Need: Print the Fred worksheet in the resource section and copy for each student.  

Make sure and remind the students that Fred's body can go both directions and he will always aim his mouth to eat the greater number.

Encourage them to draw his teeth inside his mouth as they solve the problems, so they remember his mouth is aiming that direction because he wants to eat the larger number. Look at the picture of my student working on her independent practice and you can see the teeth she drew on Fred at the top of her page. 

Warning: Often they will get caught up in using the greater than and less than symbols and forget to use the equals sign, so remind them that it is one of their options also.