Comparing Numbers Using Greater Than, Less Than, & Equal To

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I want to share a simple lesson with you on Comparing Numbers.  There are several different ways to teach this skill.  One of the most popular ways is to use the “Alligator eats the bigger number” method.  With any lesson though, there will be some students who need to learn a skill a different way.  This particular method would be great for students who need a more hands-on approach to learning.


  1. Display two, 2-digit numbers on a board.
  2. Begin by having students look at the tens and ones place in the two numbers. 
  3. If the tens place is different, have them underline the tens place.  If it is the same, have them underline the ones place.
  4. Depending on which is underlined, have students compare the numbers in either the tens or ones place.
  5. Tell students that each number will receive some dots.
  6. The greater number will receive two dots because it is the greater number.  The lesser number will only receive one dot because it is the smaller number.
  7. Students should draw the dots beside each number.
  8. Then, have students connect the dots.  If students follow the rules, it should be a error-proof way to make sure they draw the symbols in the correct direction.
  9. Have students practice this several times but present the problem in different ways such as drawing symbols, comparing numbers without symbols, and using base ten blocks.


A fun follow-up activity is to have students practice this in a center.

Materials Needed Per Student:

  • Number Cards
  • Recording Sheet
  • 3 Chips (You can get the ones I used here, but any chip/circle counter will work.)
  • 2 Pieces of Yarn


  1. Place several number cards in a center.
  2. Students will draw two cards and write the numbers on the lines on the recording sheet.
  3. Then, students will use chips and yarn to create and connect the dots.  The greater number will receive two dots/chips, while the smaller number will only receive one dot/chip.  Once the dots/chips are placed, students will connect them with the pieces of yarn. 
  4. Once students have physically made the symbol, they will draw it on their recording sheet using the connecting the dots system.



I’ve put together a *FREE* packet you can use to create the center.  It includes 2 & 3-digit number cards and a recording sheet.


To download the number cards for FREE, complete the form below.  Enjoy!