Greater Than, Less Than OR Equal: Comparison Math Problems

Greater than, less than or equal problems are introduced in kindergarten, when children learn to count. In fact, two goals for kindergarteners is to count to 100 and compare numbers from one through ten. Try some of these ways to help your child visualize inequality problems.

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How to Introduce >, < or = Problems

Though this concept is introduced in kindergarten, it's revisited as students learn to count higher numbers and even later when they learn about negative numbers. Extra practice can help your child become familiarized with using the inequality sign (>); however, a memory tool may be just what your child needs. For instance, tell your child to imagine the inequality sign as an alligator that wants to eat the greater number. This can help him or her remember that the mouth of the sign faces the bigger number. Alternatively, your child can picture the < as an arrow <-- pointing toward the smaller number.

Ways to Solve >, < or = Problems

Visualize It

When constructing your own greater than, less than or equal problems, try using pictures or objects to represent numbers. This exercise may help your child visualize which is greater. For instance, place three pennies on one side of the table and five pennies on the other side. Then give your child a card with the inequality sign on it. He or she will then determine which way the card should face.

After your child gets the hang of it, you can begin using numerals. Even after you include numbers in your problems, keep in mind that pictures can increase your child's interest in the subject and make math fun. For instance, you may draw a picture of five cupcakes and write the number five underneath. On the other side of the paper, draw seven cupcakes and write the number seven underneath. Your son or daughter can then solve the problem by drawing in the inequality sign.

Count It

When your child is comfortable with the concept, or if your child is older, try out some problems that are only numerical. If your child is struggling, provide him or her with a number line. In these sample problems, all options are provided and your child should circle which is correct.

  • 8 > < = 9
  • 7 > < = 5
  • 3 > < = 3
  • 2 > < = 1

Once your child has mastered those, try including larger numbers in the problems, such as:

  • 10 > < = 15
  • 20 > < = 13
  • 33 > < = 31
  • 40 > < = 40
  • 29 > < = 30
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