Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Fishing for Fun

Juanita Looper
Hernando County Schools


Students categorize fish crackers into groups by color then compare the 2 groups using the symbols <, =, and >.


The student uses concrete objects to solve number sentences with equalities and inequalities (using the symbols greater than, =, less than).


-Work mats (suitable ones might be found in a math kit)
-Blue construction paper
-1 12” x 18” sheet of construction paper per student (any color but blue)
-Cheese and pretzel flavored fish crackers (or any other objects that can be divided into 2 groups by some characteristic--colored or shaped candies, cereals, chips or math manipulatives)
-Pretzel sticks
-Baggies or containers for easy distribution


1. Secure or prepare work mats. Cut out two blue lakes big enough on which to put piles of fish crackers. Glue them to any color 12” x 18” construction paper with enough space between lakes to make the symbols with pretzel sticks.

2. Laminate mats.

3. Purchase two kinds of fish crackers (or other objects) and pretzel sticks.

4. Organize crackers and pretzels in baggies for easy distribution. Each baggie should have 7 to 10 of each type of cracker and 2 pretzel sticks.


1. Ask the children, “Did you ever get really tired of writing and wish you had a shortcut for some words? Well, mathematicians must get really tired because they’ve made shortcuts for lots of words. We call those shortcuts symbols. I’m going to teach you about three symbols today.”

2. Discuss with students the symbols <, >. (Think of an arrow always pointing to the baby or smallest thing or group.)

3. Pass out baggies of supplies.

4. Practice making < and > with pretzel sticks.

5. Pass out work mats and fish crackers.

6. Tell the students to separate crackers into 2 groups by color. Put the brown fish in one pile. Place them in one lake. Put the orange fish in the other lake. Count the fish in each lake.

7. Have the students make the correct symbol using pretzel sticks between the two lakes.

8. Continue this practice, telling the students to put various numbers of fish in each lake, always making sure one lake has more than the other.

1. Review yesterday’s symbols, and introduce =. Use the same two pretzel sticks as yesterday’s symbols. Explain that this doesn’t make an arrow because it is used when there is no baby object or group. It is important to stress at this time that the = symbol is used when the object or groups are [exactly] the same size.

2. Pass out work mats and fish and have the students practice making equal groups in each lake.

3. Have the students do a mixed practice of equalities and inequalities. (Example: Place 3 fish on the left side. Place 6 fish on the right side. Put the correct symbol in the middle using pretzel sticks.)


1. Observe students making all three symbols (<, =, >) with pretzel sticks on work mats.
2. Observe students placing proper symbol between two piles of fish crackers. Assist any student showing difficulty with the task.


ESOL/ESL or ESE students can be paired with a helper.
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