Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Farmer 's Barnyard Animals Hungry for Greater Than

Cindy Jacobs


Students will compare numbers to the thousands place using < and >. Teacher can dress the part of a farmer for a motivational way to teach this concept. Less than and greater than signs will be turned into hungry barnyard animals.


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


-Farmer's Attire (Overalls, straw hat, etc.)
-Paper Towels
-Animal Crackers Placed Inside Small Plastic Bags (One per student)


1.Gather materials needed for the lesson.
2.Animal cookies need to be bagged in advance.


1. For motivational purposes, you (teacher) might want to dress the part of a farmer (overalls, straw hat, etc.). Tell students that you are a farmer with some very hungry barnyard animals.

2. Review the less than< and greater than> sign. State that the open end (greater than sign) always points to the larger number, and the pointed end (less than sign) always points to the smaller number when two numbers are compared. Compare this to a hungry horse whose mouth is open to gobble up the greater number.

3. Review place value to the ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands place.

4. Write the numbers 13 and 24 on the chalkboard. Draw 13 dots and 24 dots. Ask students which is more? Draw the less than/greater than sign so it is pointed towards 13 and open towards 24. Then, draw the head of a hungry horse with the less than/greater than symbol being its mouth. You don't have to be an artist. The sillier it looks the better students will like it.

5. Tell students that two number sentences can be written to compare any two numbers, for example: 13 > 11 and 11 < 13.

6. Write the following numbers on the chalkboard and have students name and write two number sentences using a less than sign and a greater than sign for each set of numbers on the chalkboard:

5 and 7
9 and 11
42 and 44
15 and 17

7. Next, ask students which is greater 236 or 318? Tell students to look at the place of greatest value first. Since the hundreds place is the greatest place value position for these numbers, you'll compare the 2 and the 3 first. Ask students which is more 200 or 300? Students should see that 318 is greater than 236 and that 236 is greater than 318.

8. Have students compare the numbers 183 and 181. Remind them to compare the hundreds place first since it is the place of greatest value. Since the numbers are the same, tell them to look at the next place of highest value which is the tens place. Since these numbers are the same, they will compare the ones place. Ask students which is more 3 or 1? This should help them see that 183 is greater than 181. Draw the greater than sign.

9. Ask students how the sign in a number sentence showing greater than can be changed to less than? The answer is by switching the numbers around.

10. Have students compare the numbers 4,582 and 5,582. Remind them to look at the highest place value position first. Ask them which is more 4,000 or 5,000? Write the number sentences 4,582 < 5,582 and 5,582 > 4,582 on the chalkboard.

11. Give each student a paper towel and a small plastic bag filled with a handful of animal crackers. These bags of animal crackers should not contain exact amounts but should be similar in size. Have students count their animal crackers on the paper towel. Have them compare the number of animal crackers with another student. Students are to discuss which has greater and lesser amounts of animal crackers. If any discover that they end up with the same amount, this would be an appropriate time to discuss the equal to = symbol.

12. Have students put aside their animal cookies for later.

13. Write the following problems on the chalkboard:


13. Give students a sheet of paper. Have them fold it so they have more than ten sections. Tell students to copy these problems (one per section). Tell them to use the appropriate less than or greater than symbol. Encourage students to use their creative abilities to turn each symbol into a barnyard animal's head and mouth. For example, a pig, chicken, goat, horse, cow, dog, cat, etc. Tell them to darken their less than or greater than symbol by outlining it. This will help it show up better.

14. When through, collect the papers for assessment purposes. Allow students to eat their animal crackers.


1. Mastery and non-mastery will be informally based on observation of students while comparing numbers.
2. Mastery and non mastery will be based on getting 8 out of 10 problems correct regarding comparing numbers to the thousands place.


This lesson could be extended into a lesson regarding exact and not exact measurements using the animal cookies. Also, students can compare numbers extending to the ten thousands place.
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