A Change of Perspective
When students are having difficulties grasping concepts, a change of perspective can help tremendously. Life of Fred offers that different perspective. In this lesson plan on "more than" and "less than," we will show how to incorporate Life of Fred, Fractions math book to teach comparisons and the mathematical symbol for less than "<". It is required to have at least 1 copy of the book for this fraction lesson plan.
About Life of Fred
Life of Fred Math Series contains 6 books that teach math from a different perspective. They are written by Professor Stanley Schmidt, who holds a Ph. D, in mathematics. All of the books are based on a character named Fred, a precocious child who entered Kitten University as an infant.
Lesson Plan on “More Than” and “Less Than”
Less than, greater than, equal to; these can be difficult concepts for children to understand. Equality is usually not the problem. Most children understand that 56 = 56. However, the symbols for less than”<” and greater than “>” can be confusing, especially for children with learning disabilities or for those who write numbers such as 2, 3, and 5 backwards.
Using Fractions, from the Life of Fred math series helps students remember which symbol is the correct one to use. Starting in chapter one of Fractions, read pages 10-12. Students can read to themselves or it can be read to them. Life of Fred explains math as a story. In this particular story, Fred has discovered he would rather ride a bike to class than walk. He compares his current age 5 ½ to when he was younger (age 5). He makes a list of all the reasons he wants a bike, including the reason that 5 is less than 5 1/2; he is older now and should have a bike.
This is a great way to explain the comparison symbols of greater than and less than. Ask students if they were younger or older last year. Have them write a math sentence using the less than “<” symbol comparing their age last year to their current age. Continue to have them write math sentences to compare their size from when they were 5 to how big they are now. Students can also measure and compare items in the classroom. Their desks are smaller than the teacher’s desk. Students’ chairs are shorter than the teacher’s chair. Be sure that any comparisons made are concrete and can be easily viewed and understood by the students. All of the math sentences should use the less than “<” symbol. Do not introduce the greater than “>” symbol at the same time. Once they have grasped the less than “<” symbol, move on to greater than “>” but not in the same lesson or on the same day.
On page 13 in the Fractions book, there are math problems to solve. As Fred puts it, now it is time for you (meaning the student) to play. These math problems can be used for further enrichment or they can be incorporated into the lesson.
Using the above strategy should help students understand the mathematical notation for less than “<” rather easily. By focusing on one symbol at a time, confusion is avoided.