October 28, 2015
by Yolanda Swain
Lesson Plan:

Greater Than, Less Than: Comparing Three-Digit Numbers

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Students will be able to compare three digit numbers using the <, >, and = symbols.

(5 minutes)
  • Write the numbers 54 and 45 on the board.
  • Ask your students to identify the bigger, or greater number.
  • Ask students to explain how they know which number is greater.
  • Tell students that today they are going to do something similar by comparing 3-digit numbers.
(10 minutes)
  • Read aloud the following number story: Pam has 255 stamps. Jody has 276 stamps. Who has more stamps?
  • Show students how to line up the numbers by place value in a chart on the board. Make three columns with hundreds, tens, and ones.
  • Explain to your students that when comparing numbers, they can start with the digit in the greatest place value first. If they are the same, then they can compare digits in the next place value.
  • Ask students how many hundreds are in both numbers on the board.
  • Then, ask a volunteer to explain what to do when both numbers are the same.
  • Look at the digits in the tens place, and discuss with the class which digit is greater.
  • Explain to students that because the 7 is greater than the 5, 276 is greater than 255.
  • Lead a discussion that > means greater than and < means less than. Demonstrate that the arrow opens toward the bigger number, and show this visually with your arms.
  • Ask which symbol is the correct one to use for the problem on the board.
  • Repeat the activity to compare 234 and 454 or other numbers.
(10 minutes)
  • Help students work through the first two exercises on the worksheet. Show the examples on the board. Have students decide which symbol should be used in each exercise.
  • If needed, take out manipulatives to practice with.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students complete the rest of the worksheet on their own.
  • Enrichment: For advanced students, have them compare numbers with more than three digits. Ask them to explain how they determined which one was greater. Encourage them to write a number story comparing 3-digit numbers, and direct them to use comparison words such as greater than, less than, and equal to.
  • Support: Give your students manipulatives while working through the exercises, and have them draw out a scenario with the numbers, such as with coins or chips.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students a comparison question. For example: How do you compare 808 with 880 using >, <, or an equal sign? Explain.
  • Have them practice writing out a place value chart.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask a volunteer to summarize how to compare 3-digit numbers. Have him come up with numbers to ask the rest of the class to compare.

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