August 28, 2015
by Molly Stahl

Lesson plan

Comparing Numbers: Marshmallow Math

(3 ratings )
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Do you need extra help for EL students? Try the Hungry Gator Counting pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Do you need extra help for EL students? Try the Hungry Gator Counting pre-lesson.

Students will be able to compare two numbers between 0 and 10 using greater than, less than, or equal to.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • At your group meeting area, choose two students for a demonstration.
  • Give each student a paper plate and some marshmallows, or other manipulative, making sure they do not get the same amount.
  • Ask students who has more or less marshmallows and how they know.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell students that they have just compared numbers, which is what today's lesson is all about.
  • Watch Urple and Burple.
  • Stop occasionally to talk about how many of each object Urple and Burple have and who has more of each.
(10 minutes)
  • After the story, introduce the vocabulary: greater than, less than, and equal to using the reference posters.
  • Using the marshmallows, or other manipulatives, show examples of greater than, less than, and equal to.
  • Once you have modeled a few examples, invite students to make the symbols with their hands to compare the two groups. Repeat as needed.
  • Show students how to make the cereal holders using marshmallows by sticking 1 toothpick in each marshmallow and then placing cereal onto the toothpick.
  • Remind students that they are using the marshmallows and cereal as tools to compare two numbers.
  • Model using the cereal to show a number on each of the toothpicks and recording it on the recording sheet.
  • Then ask students what symbol should go in between the two models. Model writing the symbol in between the two marshmallows on the worksheet.
(15 minutes)
  • Back at students’ seats, pass out the Comparing Numbers with Marshmallows worksheet and prepared paper plate to each student.
  • Circulate the room to guide students and check for understanding.


  • Give advanced students verbal queues for them to determine greater numbers. The Comparing Numbers Quiz is a good way to do this.


  • Give struggling students the Comparing Numbers worksheet for their assessment.
(10 minutes)
  • Distribute the Fruity Number Fun worksheet and read the directions aloud.
  • Check these worksheets for correctness.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students how they would go about comparing two numbers.
  • Invite students to show you the signs for greater than, less than, and equal to with their hand movements.

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