# Greater Than Less Than

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by msrosie, Aug 31, 2015.

1. ### msrosieRookie

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Aug 31, 2015

My kinders are really struggling with the concept of greater than and less than.
I've used physical objects to demonstrate. I've done one-to-one correspondence and a combination of the two, but there are still some that don't understand.
Any suggestions for different ways to teach it?

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Aug 31, 2015

What about using a balance scale?

4. ### janisCompanion

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Aug 31, 2015

Really make it real, something like this. Put 5 M&Ms in one pile and 2 in another and simply ask them, "Which pile of M&Ms do you want?".

If they can figure out which pile has more M&Ms, they can eat them. If not, well...

:help:

5. ### mkbren88Cohort

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Aug 31, 2015

Before they can really understand greater than and less than, they need to fully understand what the numbers you are using mean. Build up their number sense, and use math talk yourself when discussing groups and how many there are, which one has more/less, etc.. If you are referring to using symbols, that's going to take a little bit longer. I've used YouTube videos and brain pop to give my students a better understanding.

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Sep 1, 2015

I thought the above posts were quite clever! I've also had success (in upper elementary) teaching math concepts with outside games. For your Kindergarteners, perhaps a game where students find themselves in 2 groups, and determine which group is greater, less than, or if both groups are equal would be helpful.

One that readily comes to mind is to play "Freeze". The students wander around an area until the teacher calls out, "Freeze." (This could be done in a large circle or box drawn on blacktop). Each student immediately becomes motionless. The teacher could then take a long rope and divide the students into 2 groups. After discussing the in/equality of the groups, a small whiteboard could be used to write the in/equation in arithmetic symbols.

7. ### catnfiddleModerator

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Sep 1, 2015

My elementary school teacher turned those signs into hungry alligators, whose mouths would always be open to the bigger food supply. The fact that I still remember this almost 40 years later might mean it stuck.

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Sep 1, 2015

Try emphasizing how numbers are symbols--and I would try to stick to that terminology. That might help bridge the gap between the numbers and the objects and give you a good base for the greater/lesser.

9. ### msrosieRookie

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Sep 2, 2015

Thank you so much for the suggestions!

Right now, we're just working with objects, not really the numbers, so I'm trying out the pan balance to see how that helps their understanding.

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Sep 3, 2015

Yeah, the numbers as symbols is a higher level. You probably should work on related concepts such as more/less, higher/lower, above/below.

11. ### DizneeTeachRVirtuoso

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Sep 3, 2015

Ha... I remember that way too. Lol!!!

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Sep 3, 2015

I'm going to respectfully disagree. It's definitely lower level. It's very good to start with objects, but kindergarteners are going to have a lot of trouble switching suddenly from 10 concrete jelly beans to a random number 10 written on the board. When the teacher shifts from the concrete, explicitly explaining that the 10 stands for the 10 jelly beans is a great bridge. Heck, I've heard of kinder and first grade teachers saying the 10 on the board is just marker strikes. Makes the kids laugh and lets them know what the 10 is symbolizing.

If the kids are struggling with just the objects, keep to that for a while. I like the idea of the scale and simply asking which pile of candy they prefer--followed by a boosting "See? Your brain knows!"

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Sep 3, 2015

I would use M&Ms. They will quickly see that they want the "More than" pile of M&Ms.

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