Less is Best for Hippo - A Math Warm Up for Comparing 3 Digit Numbers

Here is a playful, engaging math warm up that will help your students compare 3 digit numbers. You can modify it to 2-5 digit numbers easily by simply using more dice. 

Less is Best for Hippo - Math Warm Up Comparing 3 Digit Numbers

  • tell students that Hippo is hungry and ready for some watermelon but he'd like the piece with the least seeds 
  • students each roll 3 dice and must create the largest number possible on a blank watermelon playing mat - e.g. with a 3, 2 and 5 rolled they must make 532
  • numbers are compared (students may write them on a piece of paper or whiteboard) and the smallest number wins a token (counter)
  • play several rounds
  • encourage lots of math language for comparing numbers - bigger, smaller, biggest, smallest, more, less, the same, equal, let's compare etc


3 digit numbers math warm up

math activities in first grade

The watermelon playing mat is available in our Math Number Display pack. They are perfect for creating a visual display for counting that also enhances your classroom decor. Have a set for activities and games as well. 

Hippo is one of our Alphabet Posters!

math wall visuals

You can hold them up at random as another math warm up and have students tell you:
  • the number
  • double the number
  • the difference to 20

If you're in the Pond Coloring Club, you'll find a free Watermelon Sails page this week. Before coloring each pair of students in your class can play a math warm up on one page. 

They simply take turns to color 1, 2 or 3 seeds to see who will complete the final seeds on the page. They will be thinking mathematically as they count, compare and plan their next color. 

math coloring page watermelon