Lesson Plan

Which Number is the Greatest?

Use this lesson to support students in understanding the symbols used to record numbers. This lesson can be used alongside Comparing Three-Digit Numbers or as a standalone, scaffolded EL support lesson.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Comparing Three-Digit Numbers lesson plan.
View aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Comparing Three-Digit Numbers lesson plan.



Students will be able to compare two three-digit numbers based on meanings of hundreds, tens, and ones, using symbols.


Students will be able to explain why a three-digit number is greater than another three-digit number with academic vocabulary using sentence frames.


(5 minutes)
Place Value Mat: Three-Digit NumbersVocabulary Cards: Which Number is the Greatest?Glossary: Which Number is the Greatest?Teach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives Reference
  • Gather students together in a comfortable area.
  • Write down the following story problem on the whiteboard:
    • Zany the Zebra was very hungry. Zany the Zebra walked for awhile and found a pile of 100 pounds of grass by her favorite watering hole. She walked a little further and found a pile of 150 pounds of grass by a big tree. Zany the Zebra wants to eat the pile of grass with the greatest amount. Which pile of grass should Zany the Zebra eat? Why?
  • Read the story problem out loud and ask students to reflect on what the problem is asking. Allow students to come up to circle the two important numbers in the story problem. Clarify the meaning of any unknown/difficult words in the story problem by showing students visuals online (e.g. pounds, zebra, watering hole, etc.)
  • Have students think-pair-share with a partner which pile of grass Zany the Zebra should eat. Provide students with sentence frames to support their discussion (e.g. "I think Zany should eat ________ because ________").
  • Allow a few students to share out their ideas with the rest of the class. Do not tell students what the correct answer is. Remind students to justify their thinking using the sentence frame.