Fossilised Shark Teeth as “Greater Than” and “Less Than” Symbols

Everything Dinosaur team members have developed a number of creative lesson plans to help Key Stage one and Key Stage two pupils to get used to mathematical terms and symbols.  Whether it is using a list of extinct, prehistoric animals to encourage thinking in terms of how data might be presented or learning how to record information accurately by measuring dinosaur teeth, the Everything Dinosaur staff have developed an array of creative lesson plans.

A number of Higher Learning Teaching Assistants have approached us asking for advice on how our fossil collection and dinosaur knowledge could be used to help primary school pupils get to grips with mathematical symbols and their correct usage.  For instance, our hard-working staff were asked to think up ways to help children from six years of age recognise and recall what certain signs and symbols represent.

A great deal of emphasis has been placed on young learners being able to make connections between numbers, shapes and symbols.  During upper Key Stage one, school children develop knowledge of and an understanding of symbols used in mathematics.  If we can build in a fun and creative prehistoric animal theme then the pupils will be encouraged to apply their knowledge – so why not use some giant, fossil shark teeth to help children learn about the “less than” and the “greater than” symbols.

C. megalodon Shark Teeth Fossils Help Children with Maths

The shape of the teeth helps children learn mathematical symbols.

The shape of the teeth helps children learn mathematical symbols.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Everything Dinosaur team members use pictures of the gigantic, fossilised teeth of a huge prehistoric shark commonly called Megalodon, with the scientific epithet – C. megalodon, to create the mathematical symbols.  As children move on from Key Stage one, they are expected to be able to recognise that the position of a number gives its value and to use correctly the “less than” and “greater than” symbols.

Scale drawing of C. megalodon.

Scale drawing of C. megalodon.

The shark teeth are from the company’s extensive fossil collection.  Fortunately, this prehistoric shark became extinct around 1.5 million years ago, extinction is another topic area that team members explore using fossil material.  Teeth from these monsters fascinate children and being able to handle one and view it up close is a memorable experience – helping to reinforce learning.

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