EL Support Lesson

Hungry Alligator Game

Students get practice composing and comparing two-digit numbers as they compete to collect the most cards while playing the Hungry Alligator game. This lesson can be used alone or with the lesson plan **Greater than Less Than Equal to Game.**
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To Game lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To Game lesson plan.

Students will use an understanding of place value to compare two-digit numbers.


Students will be able to describe the value of digits in the tens and ones places, and compare the value of two-digit numbers using drawings and partner support.

(3 minutes)
  • Ask students which they would rather have, 14 or 41 dollars.
  • Instruct students to sit knee to knee with a partner, and express their opinion using the sentence frame, "I would rather have ____ dollars because ____."
  • Chose a few students to share. If students respond that 41 is more, challenge them to explain how they know that. For example, 41 is farther away from zero than 14 on the number line. Fourteen has one ten and four ones, and 41 has four tens and a single one.
(5 minutes)
  • Review with students that 41 is more than 14 as you point to the numbers on the number line. Enunciate the "n" in fourteen, and the "ee" in forty so students clearly hear the difference.
  • Create a T-chart, and label the left column "tens" and the right column "ones." Instruct students to show you ten fingers, then one finger and display the Vocabulary Cards.
  • Model building the number 14 with manipulatives such as magnetic cubes, or by drawing squares. Count with students from one to nine as you add individual cubes to the ones column of the chart.
  • When you add the tenth cube to the ones column, explain that you need to create a group of ten. A group is a collection of things that are the same. Join the ten cubes and move them to the tens column, or erase and redraw the squares as a group in the tens column.
  • Ask students if it is possible to add an eleventh cube to the group of ten. Think aloud that since you cannot, you must add four more cubes to the "ones" column. Have students repeat after you, "One ten and four ones, fourteen," again exaggerating the "n" in fourteen.
  • Repeat the procedure with 41, adding individual cubes to the ones sides, creating groups of ten and moving them to the "tens" side as needed. Have students repeat after you, "Four tens and one one, forty-one."
(10 minutes)
  • Explain that since we can see that 41 is more, we say the number 41 is greater than 14. Have students gesture with their hands spread wide as they repeat loudly, "greater."
  • Tell students that just like reading words, we read number sentences from left to right. Use the greater than symbol as you write and say the number sentence 41 > 14 and display the greater than Vocabulary Card.
  • Say, "Since 14 is smaller than 41, we say 14 is less than 41." Gesture with hands close together as students repeat softly, "less than." Read and write the number sentence from left to right, 14 < 14, displaying the Vocabulary Card.
  • Tell students that some people think that the greater than and less than symbols look like an alligator mouth that is open towards the greater number to eat the number.
  • Write the number 14 twice side by side. Ask students whether we should use the greater than or less than symbol to compare these two numbers.
  • Allow students wait time to think about the numbers before comparing the numbers with the equal sign. Tell students that they equal sign means "the same as", and show them the Vocabulary Card.
  • Distribute personal whiteboards and markers to students. Write two numbers on the board, and have students write number sentences comparing the numbers on their whiteboards.
  • Have them share their number sentences. For example, 32 < 97, 97 > 32 and 25 = 25.
  • Allow students to draw small triangles to show alligator teeth for fun, but remind them that this is not the correct way to write the actual math symbol. Explain that it is just a way to help remember which way the symbol points.
(15 minutes)
  • Tell students that today they will play the Hungry Alligator game with their partner.
  • Show students the single Digit Cards from zero to nine.
  • Tell students the goal of the game is to collect the most cards.
  • Display the steps to play the game:
    1. Player A and B sit side by side.
    2. Player A chooses two cards, (model choosing two cards, for example one and nine) and makes the greater number. (Ask students which number is greater, 91 or 19. Model building 91 by placing the nine to the left of the one).
    3. Player A names the number: "____ tens ____ ones is ____." (Model saying nine tens and one one, 91).
    4. Player B chooses two cards, (model choosing two cards, for example six and four) and makes the greater number. (Ask students which number is greater, 64 or 46 and model building 64.)
    5. Player B names the number: "____ tens ____ ones is ____."
    6. Player A and Player B compare their numbers. (Model pointing to the numbers from left to right). "____ is greater than/less than/equal to ____."
    7. Player with the greater number takes all four cards.
    8. If the numbers are the same, each player chooses two more cards, and winner takes all eight cards.
    9. Player with the greatest number of cards at the end of the game wins!
  • Model playing a few rounds with a student volunteer, using the sentence frames as you play. Excuse students to play with a partner.


  • If students do not know number names, pair with a student who speaks same home language (L1) if possible.
  • Have students restate the instructions to play the game using L1.
  • Play the game in a teacher-led small group.


  • Tell players to write the number using expanded notation, for example 20 + 4 = 24.
  • Write >, < and = on index cards and have students practice using these symbols while they play.
(5 minutes)
  • Circulate and notice whether students are able to arrange the digits to create the greatest two digit number. Check that students can compare their numbers accurately. Encourage students to find the numbers on the number line if they are not sure which number is greater. Tell them that a numbers that is farther away from zero is greater than one that is closer to zero.
  • Allow students time to count the total number of cards at the end of the game to determine the winner. Observe that students count accurately.
(5 minutes)
  • Reflect on the activity with the class. Share an anecdote such as "I noticed Jenni choose a three and a two. She made the number 32. Tito choose a three and a nine, and made the number 93. They said, 32 is less than 93, and Tito took both cards. They did a good job taking turns and working together to compare the numbers."
  • Tell the partner who had the greatest number of cards at the end of the game to raise their hand.
  • If possible, create digit cards to send home with students. Tell students to play Hungry Alligator game as homework.

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