Math Access for Teachers and Home Child Care Providers

Hungry Alligator

Children will determine if a number is greater than, less than, or equal to another.

Content Area Standard Target
• Number and Operations
• Algebra
• Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers and number systems
• Understand patterns, relations, and functions
• Represent and analyze mathematical situations and structures using algebraic symbols
• Use mathematical models to represent and understand quantitative relationships
• Count with understanding and recognize “how many” in sets of objects
• Develop understanding of the relative position and magnitude of whole numbers and of ordinal and cardinal numbers and their connections
• Connect number words and numerals to the quantities they represent, using various models and representations
• Sort, classify, and order objects by size, number, and other properties
• Use concrete, pictorial, and verbal representations to develop an understanding of invented and conventional symbolic notations
• Model situations that involve the addition and subtraction of whole numbers, using objects, pictures, and symbols
Obtain the Materials

• Assemble several “alligator mouths” You can be as creative as you like, using green painted popsicle sticks glued together on an angle and decorated with a googly eye and sharp teeth or you can use two strips of paper joined together with a brass brad.  The children really love the idea of an alligator eating “more” of something and having the children physically position the alligator’s mouth towards the larger quantity, helps to solidify the concept.
• A deck of cards with face cards and Aces taken out of the deck.
• The book, Alfie the Alligator by Sandy Turley

Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the Activity

1. Introduce the concepts of “more than”, “less than” and “equal to” by reading the book, Alfie the Alligator. Alfie the Alligator is a whimsical story rhyme about an alligator named Alfie who takes his friends on a journey to find the largest numbers. The book teaches the concept of comparing numbers and reinforces the use of the greater than (>) less than (<) and equal sign (=).

Engage the Children

• Explain the game.  Draw two cards from the pile and place them side by side with a space in between them.  Model the mathematical phrasing that will help the children understand the concept of “greater”.
• SayLet’s pretend these numbers are cookies.  Would Alfie the alligator rather have 6 cookies or 3 cookies?”  The children respond, “He wants 6 cookies.” Say: “That’s right. Alfie is hungry and six cookies are more than 3 cookies.  And 3 cookies are less than 6 cookies. So we will place Alfie’s open mouth towards the bigger number of cookies.”
• Have the children play through the deck of cards alternating turns.  As was modeled, have the children say a sentence about how it was done.  For example, 6 cookies are more than 3 cookies.
• Be sure to model the correct vocabulary if two numbers are the same.

Additional Extensions

• Use items other than playing cards.  For larger numbers, use counting manipulatives such as colored bears or dried kidney beans.
• Transfer to “More than, less than, equal to” worksheets where there are two numbers or two groups of objects and a box between the 2 numbers.  In the box, have the children draw the “more than” sign to indicate which of the two numbers are larger.  Worksheets can be downloaded at this site:
http://www.math-aids.com/Greater_Than_Less_Than/Kindergarten_Integers.html

Encourage Vocabulary

• More than – Words used to compare quantity (e.g., "Six cookies are more than 3 cookies.")
• Greater than – More than; shows relationship between numbers (e.g., "The number 6 is greater than the number 3.")
• Less than – A value that is smaller in number (e.g., "The number 3 is less than the number 6.")
• Equal – To be the same in number or amount (e.g., "There are equal amounts of cookies.")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

• Have trouble identifying which number is greater.

Pre-K Children may:

• Grasp the idea that the alligator’s open mouth goes toward the larger number.
• Have a command of numbers 2 – 9 (the numbers on the playing cards).

Home child care providers may:

• Model the mathematical phrasing that will help the children understand the concept of “greater.” Ask, Let’s pretend these numbers are cookies.  Would Alfie the alligator rather like to have 6 cookies or 3 cookies?”  The children respond, “He wants 6 cookies.”  “That’s right. Alfie is hungry and six cookies are more than 3 cookies.  And 3 cookies are less than 6 cookies. So we will place Alfie’s open mouth towards the bigger number of cookies.”
• Get small objects, like dried beans, that allow them to count out the quantities. If they are able to answer the problems correctly, the difficulty is with number sense; they need more practice matching written numbers and quantities so this connection becomes more secure.

Home child care providers may:

• Transfer to “More than, less than, equal to” worksheets where there are two numbers or two groups of objects and a box between the 2 numbers.  In the box, have the children draw the “more than” sign to indicate which of the two numbers are larger.  Worksheets can be downloaded at this site:
http://www.mathaids.com/Greater_Than_Less_Than/Kindergarten_Integers.html
• Use items other than playing cards.  For larger numbers, use counting manipulatives such as colored bears or dried kidney beans.

Books

• Alfie the Alligator by Sandy Turley (Amherst, New Hampshire: Helps4Teachers, 2008)
• More or Less by Stuart J. Murphy (New York: HarperCollins, 2005)

Music and Movement

 Alligator greater than / less than http://www.songsforteaching.com/jennyfixmanedutunes/alligatorgreaterlessthan.htm

Outdoor Connections

• Play Red Rover - Separate everyone into two equal teams. Here, they will be called Team A and Team B. Have each team stand in a straight line, holding hands. The two teams should be facing each other, about ten yards apart.
Team A decides who to "call over" from Team B. Once Team A has decided, they sing, "Red Rover, Red Rover, we call (name) over! The player from Team B who was called must run to Team A and try to break through the arms of two Team A players. If the player from Team B don't pass through, they are a part of Team A now. But if they pass through, they go back to their original team, Team B. Continue playing until one team only has two people. Once one of those people gets put on the other team, the game is over. The larger team wins.

Web Resources

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