Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Which Number Does Elmo the Alligator Eat?

Deborah Ford
Santa Rosa District Schools


The students hear a story about Elmo the Alligator who loves to eat big numbers. Each student gets a drawing paper and a newspaper flier. They cut out numbers, compare two of them and identify which is more than, less than, or equal to the other.


The student compares two or more sets (up to 100 objects in each set) and identifies which set is equal to, more than, or less than the other.


-Newspaper fliers from a local grocery store, one for each student
-Drawing paper for each student
-Glue, scissors, and a black crayon for each student
-The Story of Elmo the Alligator (See Procedures, step #1)
-Chalkboard and/or white board
-Smiley face stickers


1. Gather supplies for each student--drawing paper, glue, scissors and a black crayon.
2. Go to the local grocery store and pick up fliers. These work good because the numbers are large.
3. Gather stickers for completed papers.
4. Write different sets of numbers on the board for sample comparison problems (i.e., 16 and 2, 7 and 6, 5 and 5).


1. Tell the story of Elmo the Alligator (see below). Also, as I talk, I draw an alligator's mouth and two numbers. I draw teeth also on the less than/greater than sign.

Dear Elmo eats numbers, and always the larger
when two of them stand side by side.
He studies them both and then goes for the big one
at once with his mouth open wide.
But when the two numbers turn out to be equal
poor Elmo can never decide.
He studies them both and just lies there and thinks,
and his mouth doesn't open so wide.

2. Now there are two numbers on the board: 16 and 2. If you were Elmo and you only ate the largest number, that is the number that is more, which one would you want? The side with 16 pieces of candy or the side with 2 pieces of candy? For Elmo it could be 16 fish or 2 fish. Of course, the side with 16. (Draw the > sign, then draw the teeth, or be creative and draw the whole alligator!)

3. Pass out the drawing paper to each student.

4. Compare the next 2 numbers on the board: 7 and 6. These 2 numbers are very close, but only one of them is larger than the other. Ask the class to write the numbers on the back of the drawing paper and draw the correct sign. Discuss the correct answer.

5. Use one more example using equal numbers. Write the numbers 5 and 5. Have students compare the two numbers. Ask if either one is larger than the other. Instruct the class to write the problem on the back of their drawing paper and draw the correct sign. Discuss the correct answer. (Draw the equal sign with teeth in the middle.) Explain that Elmo can't decide which one to eat and just sits there and grits his teeth.

6. Pass out the fliers. Go over some of the items and discuss the money amount.

7. Tell them: Watch me cut out a one-digit number and glue it on my paper. Now I will cut out another number and glue it beside the first number. Remember, Elmo will eat one of the numbers, so leave room between them for his mouth (i.e., 7____2).

8. Now take your black crayon and make the alligator mouth.

9. Which one does he eat? That's right, number 7. Why? Because it is more than 2. What if it were 7___7? What sign would you put? Remember, Elmo is hungry for the largest number. What does he do if the numbers are the same? (give students time to respond)

10. That's right, it would be the equal sign. Elmo can't decide which one to eat, so he looks like he is snarling between the two numbers. Very good!

11. Now I want everyone to get settled some place in the floor and go ahead and do one problem for me to check. You cut out two numbers, glue them down leaving a place between them and draw your sign. I will come around and check it. If you have the hang of it then you will continue until you have done 10 problems.

12. Walk around the room and check what the students are doing. Assist any students who need help.

13. When all 10 problems are completed, depending on time and how well the class is handling this, you can increase the number of problems. Have the ones who finish first do five more problems but using two-digit numbers instead of one-digit numbers. Note: Not everyone would have to do this part. This extended activity gives the early finishers a challenge and keeps them busy while the others work at their pace without feeling like they are getting behind.

14. Collect all the sheets, check them and give smiley face stickers.


When the students complete the assignment, they turn in to the teacher for evaluation. The teacher is looking for whether the students are able to compare two numbers, decide if the two numbers are equal, or whether one number is larger than the other and use the signs appropriately. Formative assessment also occurs through observation as the teacher circulates around the room while students are working on their problems. Reinforce the concepts with additional teaching and practice for those who need extra help.
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