Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Number Muncher

Jennifer Soderlund
Orange County Schools


Hungry Harold is starving! Students develop and solve comparative number sentences using greater than and less than symbols to feed Harold.


The student uses language and symbols (greater than, less than, =) to compare the relative size of numbers in the same form.


- Overhead Projector or Chalkboard / Whiteboard
- Transparencies
- Overhead Projector Pens or Chalk / Dry Erase Markers
- Number Muncher Incentive Chart (one per student - see associated file)
- White Index Cards (two per student)
- Colored Index Cards (one side with < symbol, one side with > symbol) (one per student)
- Markers (one per student)
- Notebook Paper (one sheet per student)
- Tape Player or CD Player
- Student Appropriate Music for Tape Player or CD Player


1. Get colored index cards ready by writing a greater than (>) sign on one side of the card and a less than (<) sign on the other side of the card.
2. Make a copy of the Number Muncher Incentive Chart for each student.


(Note: This lesson addresses only greater than (>) and less than (<). This lesson does not use equal (=) comparisons.)

1. Begin the lesson by telling the students that you have a friend named Harold that is always hungry. (Change the name to a different “H” name if you have a student named Harold to avoid any possible embarrassment.)

2. Tell the students that Harold has a rule. He only eats one kind of food at a time. Because he is always hungry, he always eats the food that has the most pieces.

3. Give the following problem: Harold can either have one hamburger or two hot dogs. Using his rule, which food should he eat? (The students should answer two hot dogs. If not, remind the students of Harold’s rule.)

4. Ask the students why they chose two hot dogs. If need be, guide them to say that two is more than one.

5. At this point, write the numbers 1 and 2 on the overhead or chalkboard / whiteboard, leaving a space between them.

6. Then draw an open mouth with teeth towards the larger number. The mouth should resemble a < or > sign.

7. Explain that this mouth is Harold’s mouth and that it is eating the bigger number.

8. Continue by giving several problems similar to the following: Harold can have 24 peas or 17 carrots. Which will he choose? Why? Remember to write the numbers that you use on the board and draw the appropriate mouth < > sign.

9. When your students are accurately choosing the larger number, review each problem using the terms “greater than” and “less than”. For the first problem, say “One is less than two.”

10. After reviewing each problem, tell students that there is a math sign that means greater than. Draw this symbol (>) on the board and write “greater than” under the symbol.

11. Do the same thing for the less than (<) symbol.

12. Point out that the “mouth” always eats the larger number, like Harold.

13. Erase the mouths on the board problems.

14. Redo the problems with the students using the proper math symbol. Have the students read the number sentence aloud using proper terminology. (ex.: “Twelve is greater than seven. Fifty-six is less than seventy-two.”)

15. Write several more blank problems on the board.

16. Continue to have students practice this step until you feel they are ready for formative assessment of the concept.

17. Explain to students that it is now their turn to make up math problems and solve them. (This is the instructors chance to see who may need added practice with this concept.)

18. Supply each student with two white index cards and one colored index card. The colored index card should have a < sign on one side of the card and a > sign on the other side of the card.

19. Instruct students to think of two different numbers, both less than one hundred.

20. Instruct students to write one number on one of the blank, white index cards and the other number on the other blank index card.

21. While students are writing their numbers, distribute the Number Muncher Incentive Chart.

22. Tell students that now they will move around the room to music with their two white numbered index cards.

23. Students are to stop at two different student’s desks and put an index card either on the right side or the left side of each desk. (No more than two index cards per desk.)

24. When the music stops, have students return to their original desks.

25. Instruct students to manipulate the colored index card to show the relationship between the numbers that were left on their desk, either < or >.

26. Instruct students to write their number sentence on notebook paper after they have selected the correct comparison sign.

27. At this time, the instructor needs to move throughout the room, offering feedback and recording answers on each student's Number Muncher Incentive Chart.

28. For a correct answer, place a star in one of the Number Muncher boxes.

29. For an incorrect answer, guide the student in correcting the answer. Once the answer is correct, star one of the Number Muncher boxes and initial in the lower corner indicating that the problem was completed with help.

30. Continue with this game until all Number Muncher boxes are filled (12 rounds).

31. At the conclusion of the game, have the students who have stars in every box read their favorite problem from their notebook paper. (This should be all of your students.)

32. Tell the class that they all got all of the problems right and remind them of how smart they are.

33. Collect each student’s notebook paper and Number Muncher Incentive Chart.


(Note: This lesson addresses only greater than (>) and less than (<). This lesson does not use equal (=) comparisons.)

As a formative assessment, students will create problems to solve. Students will then compare the numbers using greater than (>) and less than (<) symbols. The instructor will quickly check for correctness using stars to indicate correct answers and offering feedback for both correct and incorrect answers.


This lesson can be extended to include the equal (=) symbol.
Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.