"Mr. Great" is a fun tool for teaching students the concepts greater than and less than.
number line, numbers, number sequence, sequence, greater than, less than
Before the Lesson
Prepare "Mr. Great" ahead of time. Mr. Great is a Pac Man-like symbol. Create him by drawing a circle about the size of a small paper plate on the oak tag and cutting it out. Create Mr. Great's mouth by drawing a > symbol into the circle and cutting out that triangle shape from the circle (so Mr. Great looks Pac Man-like). You can use a marker to draw a dot above the triangle "mouth" to represent Mr. Great's eye. Draw another dot below the mouth so you can simply flip Mr. Great the other way to create a "less than" sign. Attach Sticky Tack, or rolled transparent or masking tape, to the back of Mr. Great so you will be able to stick him on the chalkboard or whiteboard.
An alternative would be to create a two-sided Mr. Great. You could do that by stapling a large Popsicle stick between two circles cut from oak tag. Draw one eye. Instead of flipping Mr. Great top over bottom, you can flip him side to side; one side serves as "greater than" and the other is "less than."
Teaching the Lesson
Tell students that you have a very special visitor. Introduce them to Mr. Great. Tell them that Mr. Great likes to eat numbers. His favorite numbers are the "bigger" or "greater" numbers.
Write two simple numbers on the board -- for example, the numbers 4 and 9 -- and ask students which number they think Mr. Great wants to eat. The class will tell you that he wants to eat the greater number, the number 9. Take Mr. Great and stick him on the board between the numbers so that his mouth (the opening of the > sign) is about to "devour" the greater number.
Provide more examples on the board and invite students to come up and correctly place Mr. Great between the numbers. At first, you might need to remind some students that Mr. Great likes to eat the greater, or larger, number.
AssessmentThis activity is a fun way to prevent kids from mixing up the greater than and less than signs. Instead of getting confused, the kids are excited to use the "Mr. Great hint" as a way to keep the meaning of the and > symbols straight.
Yitty Lev, Queens Gymnasia in Queens, New York
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