ALEX Learning Activity


M&Ms and Skittles

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Michelle Frye
System:Blount County
School:Hayden Elementary School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2881
M&Ms and Skittles
Digital Tool/Resource:
M&Ms and Skittles Document
Web Address – URL:

In this activity, students have to use their knowledge of place value to determine the numbers being compared. Then, students will compare the numbers using the correct comparison symbol of <, >, or =.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
MA2019 (2019)
Grade: 2
9. Compare two three-digit numbers based on the value of the hundreds, tens, and ones digits, recording the results of comparisons with the symbols >, =, and < and orally with the words "is greater than," "is equal to," and "is less than."
Unpacked Content
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • use place value terminology and concepts to explain and justify the placement of <, =, > to compare two 3-digit numbers and create true equalities and inequalities.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Equalities
  • Inequalities
Students know:
  • how to compare 3-digit numbers using the terminology "greater than," "equal to," and "less than".
Students are able to:
  • compare 3-digit numbers using place value concepts.
  • justify their reasoning as they compare numbers.
Students understand that:
  • the three digits of a 3-digit number represent groups of hundreds, tens, and ones.
Diverse Learning Needs:
Essential Skills:
Learning Objectives:
M.2.9.1: Define greater than, less than and equal to.
M.2.9.2: Compare two two-digit numbers based on meanings of the tens and ones digits, recording the results of comparisons with the symbols >, =, and <.
M.2.9.3: Arrange two-digit numbers in order from greatest to least or least to greatest.
M.2.9.4: Identify zero as a place holder in two-digit and three-digit numbers.
M.2.9.5: Model using >, =, and < symbols to record the results of comparisons of two two-digit numbers.
M.2.9.6: Select numbers on a number line that are more than, less than or equal to a specified number.
M.2.9.7: Match the words greater than, equal to and less than to the symbols >, =, and <.
M.2.9.8: Determine the value of the digits in the ones and tens place.
M.2.9.9: Identify sets with more, less or equal objects.

Prior Knowledge Skills:
  • Understand amount words, such as more, less, and another.
  • Become more interested in the concept of some and all.
  • Be interested in who has more or less.
  • Understand the concept of "less than" "more than".
  • Mimic counting by ones.
  • Recognize numbers from one to 100.
  • Become interested in how many objects she/he has.
  • Understand the concept of size and amount.
  • Given a set number of objects one through ten, answer the question "how many?"
  • Pair the number of objects counted with "how many".
  • Understand that the last number name tells the number of objects counted.
  • Establish one-to-one correspondence between numbers and objects when given a picture, a drawing or objects.
  • Pair a group of objects with a number representing the total number of objects in the group.
  • Count objects one-by-one using only one number per object.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
M.AAS.2.9 Using vocalization, sign language, augmentative communication, or assistive technology, compare sets of objects and numbers using appropriate vocabulary (greater than, less than, equal to; limited to thirty objects in a group).

Learning Objectives:

I can compare two 3-digit numbers using the symbols <, >, and =.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

  • The teacher will review arranging numbers from least to greatest. The teacher will say, "Arranging numbers from least to greatest means writing the numbers in an ordered list according to their values. The smallest number should be written on the left, with the next smallest number written to its immediate right. The process continues for all the given numbers, the largest of which should be on the right."
  • The teacher will use the following example to continue the review:

    Arrange the following numbers from least to greatest:






  • After the teacher is confident that the students understand how to arrange numbers from least to greatest, the teacher will distribute a copy of the activity titled M&Ms and Skittles to each student.
  • The students will listen as the teacher reads the task aloud.
  • The teacher will tell the students they MUST draw pictures, numbers, or words to answer the question of whether Chase is right or wrong.
  • After the students draw pictures, numbers, or words, they MUST compare the numbers using the correct comparison symbol of <, >, or =.
  • Students may use manipulatives such as base ten blocks or centimeter cubes to help them complete the task.
  • The teacher will walk around the room to observe the students as they complete the activity.
  • The teacher will ask for volunteers to prove whether Chase is right or wrong with comparison symbols.
Assessment Strategies:

  • The teacher will observe students' responses to determine students' understanding of the concept and skill.
  • The teacher can use the following guidelines to ensure students meet the learning objective:

Check that the student:

  1. can correctly add tens and fives to determine the number.
  2. can correctly use place value to make a comparison.
  3. can use the <, >, or = symbol correctly when comparing numbers.

Advanced Preparation:

  • Each student will need a copy of the M&Ms and Skittles task.
  • Students may need manipulatives such as base ten blocks or centimeter cubes to help them complete the task so the teacher will need to have these manipulatives available.
Variation Tips (optional):

  • For students who struggle with this activity, the teacher should provide a work buddy.
  • Students can build concrete models to assist them with this task.
Notes or Recommendations (optional):

This task may stand alone or be used with the following before and after activities:

Who is Correct? (Before)

Greatest, Least, or Equal? (After)

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: comparing numbers, place value