More Than, Less Than

teaching ideas for more than less thanA pair of cards that helps children develop their understanding of the mathematical symbols  > (more than), and < (less than).

The 'crocodile's mouth' version for these symbols has been around for a while, but I have always found linking the symbols to arm positions to be more meaningful for young children.

This mathsticks “more than, less than” resources matches arm positions to the mathematical symbols.

However, I always introduce the arm positions themselves before the symbols. For example:

1.
Three children in a row in size order: Abigail, Ben and Christopher. The child in the middle opens his arms to demonstrate the difference in size:

Teaching strategies for more than less than
Ben says, “Abigail is taller than Chris”

Ben's widespread arms indicate the taller person (later, the larger quantity), as if he were trying to measure her; head to toe.

2.
Abigail and Chris each hold a tower of unifix cubes. Ben uses his arms to indicate the tallest tower.

Teaching more than and less than
“Abigail's  tower is smaller than Christopher's”
“Abigail has fewer cubes than Christopher”
“Abigail has less than Christopher”

3.
Blu-Tak cubes to a whiteboard, count the cubes and ask the children to label the quantities. Encourage the children to talk about “more” and “less”. Elicit a sentence that describes the situation. For example, “3 is less than 9”, then draw an 'armless' stick figure  between the sets of cubes and ask the children to help draw on the arms.

The teaching points here are that

  • the arms of the symbol indicate the larger amount, and that...
  • the number sentence is always read from left to right.


4.
Help the children to realise that although drawing stick figures each time is fun, it is also inefficient. So, the arm positions alone (< and >) should be enough.

The mathstick “more than, less than” cards support learning at each of the above steps.

The downloadable* resource include a pdf version of these teaching ideas (together with a few other ideas), two large cards (13cm by 14cm) for demonstration use, and six smaller (6cm by 9cm) children cards.

more than - less than teachers notes and resources - thumbnail

These can be cut up and laminated individually, or stuck back to back to make double faced cards.competition image

Print them as many times as you need, you can also share them with other staff in your school, parents and other teachers (but, please observe the Creative Commons Licence).

22 Comments

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At last I have found an image

At last I have found an image that makes sense! I love the idea of turning towards the number and measuring size/quantity with your arms and hands. That little picture makes so much sense to the kinaesthetic learner! Thank you!
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johdu's picture

That's great. Thank you for

That's great. Thank you for the feedback.

John

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teachinginitaly's picture

Fresh new approach. Will be

Fresh new approach. Will be using this next term. Thank-you :-)
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MissJAKB's picture

 Great resource. I'll be

 Great resource. I'll be using it next week and displaying the cards on my working wall. Thanks
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kathryndaisy's picture

I should add that another

I should add that another teacher saw the posters and asked me where I got them from so that she could have a copy in her classroom!
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johdu's picture

That's great. The more the

That's great. The more the merrier.
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kathryndaisy's picture

I was really pleased to find

I was really pleased to find this resource - used the idea of comparing people and cubes in my observed lesson last week and it worked really well. Thanks!
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 A great visual in addition

 A great visual in addition to alligators and sharks.  It is also very real-life and kinesthetic!
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j.neal's picture

What a great resource and

What a great resource and more realistic than the crocodiles and practical. What a great site.... how come it took me so long to find it.Will be telling everyone about it. Thanks
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johdu's picture

Welcome to mathsticks -

Welcome to mathsticks - thanks for the positive comments, I'm pleased the maths ideas here are proving useful.
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j.neal's picture

What a great resource and

What a great resource and more realistic than the crocodiles and practical. What a great site.... how come it took me so long to find it.Will be telling everyone about it. Thanks
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Veda Hunter's picture

Thanks for this resource.

Thanks for this resource. This physical activity will hopefully reach students who need to understand by doing this physically.
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Tina09's picture

Love the arm positions idea -

Love the arm positions idea - simple, effective active maths!
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EmJa0310's picture

Will hopefully work well with

Will hopefully work well with my numbers count children tomorrow.
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rosy's picture

Used the crocodiles before

Used the crocodiles before but some didn't get it, trying again with this tomorrow, thanks for sharing.
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Great resource thanks

Great resource thanks
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Claire A's picture

Will be trying this with my

Will be trying this with my class. Thank you.
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jsearles's picture

Already have the crocodile's

Already have the crocodile's mouth version ready to go but I agree with what you say, so will change to this version and see what happens.
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mwscott's picture

I am interested to see how

I am interested to see how the children respond to this in September!
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creamcake's picture

Much better than other ideas

Much better than other ideas that I have seen - a great visual resource
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sammy1166's picture

I really like the idea of the

I really like the idea of the arm positions rather than crocodiles mouth. It will be interesting to see how the children get on with this in September, I think they will like it!
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rpowell's picture

This is lovely visual image

This is lovely visual image of this concept and I look forward to using it.
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