Equations: Tips and Tricks

• Use a balance with snap cubes in class. Write the equation 4 + x = 8 on the board. Have a student place 8 cubes on the right side of the balance. Have another student place 4 cubes on the left side of the balance. Ask the class how many cubes must go in the left pan to balance the sides. You have just solved an equation by balancing both sides of the equation.
• Have students practice with equations by playing equation concentration. The object of this game is to match cards. On pairs of cards, write two equivalent expressions (like 5 + 2 and 4 + 3). The goal is for students to match equivalent expressions. You can have them write equations based on the matches they find (for example, 5 + 2 = 4 + 3).
• Construct an equation diagram on a class bulletin board. Make sure to clearly label the left and right sides of the equations. It would be helpful to draw a vertical line through the equals sign dividing the equation into two parts. Also, include several examples of balanced equations, such as 3 + 4 = 6 + 1 and 12 + 8 = 5 + 11 + 4.