Some math concepts are harder for kids to learn than others. That’s certainly true for greater than and less than symbols!
Luckily, these hands-on alligators help make sense of the complicated math signs and motivate kids to practice again and again. They’re a perfect addition to our popular Place Value Cover Ups from the shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers!
To prep the activity, I simply printed the greater than, less than and equal to cookies and alligator symbols on cardstock and cut along the grey lines to separate them.
To make the activity last from year-to-year, I slid the pieces through my laminator. Then, I placed the cookies in one stack and the symbols in another.
I was good to go!
Greater Than and Less Than Alligators
My first graders loved this activity! To play, I gathered my students on the carpet and reviewed the greater than, less than and equal to symbols, reminding them that it helps to think of the greater than and less than signs as hungry alligators that want to eat the biggest number.
I showed my students the manipulative mat and the record sheet and worked through an example.
I placed the first cookie in the stack on the box marked “1st Number” and the second cookie on the right covering the box labeled “2nd Number”.
We read each number and talked about the one that was bigger.
“If a hungry alligator came along looking for a snack, what cookie would he want to eat: 17 or 58?” I asked.
The class unanimously agreed that the bigger number would go first.
We looked through our symbols and found the picture showing the alligator head facing right. A volunteer placed the symbol in the center of the board to complete our number sentence.
“17 is less than 58” we read together.
The class and I practiced several more examples. Then, I took away the cartoonish alligator symbols and pulled out the more traditional ones.
It was a smooth transition for them to grasp.
When children were ready, I had them take the learning one step further by writing their comparisons on a record sheet.
It was a great way to challenge some of my kiddos!