Comparing Numbers Using >, <, or =


Are your students comparing two numbers to determine which is greater? Are they struggling to remember which way the symbol should face? Here's a little trick that worked like a charm with my 2nd and 3rd graders!

My students could verbalize which number was greater when making comparisons. However, when it came time to using the symbols for greater than and less than, they would confuse the two. They had been taught about the greater gators in K and 1st grade, but couldn't always remember which way the gator was supposed to face.

I went to a math training and learned this trick. I have used it every year since!
If they are equal, students would place an equal sign and start the process over with the next set of numbers. Since 48 and 37 are not equal, students move on to Step Two.


Since my students could already identify the greater number, they really caught on to giving the larger number more dots than the smaller number.

Then we repeated this process again. By the second or third time, students were wondering why they hadn't been taught this "magic" before! After more examples, I knew they were ready to practice with games.


Games are a great way to differentiate in the classroom. Some of my students began by practicing with 2-digit numbers.

While others went right to 3-digit numbers and worked with a partner. 

Almost all of my games are kept in sheet protectors (or laminated) so they can be played over and over again without using a ton of paper. During game time I would circulate, observe, and help make sure students were on the right track. 

The next day our math warm-up would be a quick check of the skill. 
I would use these quick checks to determine which students still needed additional practice.

I hope this math trick will work for your students, too!

Happy Teaching! 

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