Once we have the basics down in first grade, we start looking at some of the more complicated aspects of the Operations and Algebraic standards. First, we need to truly understand what equal means.
We have a little chant that says:
We also learn that our goal is to make our equations true and how simple it can be to identify some false equations by just looking at the numbers. This is a hard concept for many of my kids to understand. However, it is something I stress. If we see 7 + 1 = 5, then right away we know it can't be true because if I was adding my sum would be larger than 7, not smaller. Here is a FREEBIE to practice true and false equations.
We repeat this process many times. Eventually we switch to the blank first ( __ + 6 = 9) and the sum first (9 = 6 + __). Although very similar, each type needs explicit modeling and practice. We typically do a lot of work on white boards to solve these equations.
Another way we work on this skill is by using manipulatives. We use partitioned paper plates, counters, and cards for this one game. Simply place a card in the "whole" section. You can decompose the number into two smaller parts, or you can give students one of the numbers and allow them to find the missing addend.
word problems and guide my students through the process. A ten's frame definitely helps.
For a seasonal twist I used ice cube trays from Dollar Tree and plastic eyeballs. Oh my goodness did the kids freak out (in a good way of course!). We could see the two sides needing to be equal. I also had them flip the eyeballs they were adding upside down so we could tell the two numbers apart. Only as a teacher do you get to say that counting eyeballs taught your kids math :)
FREEBIE for you today!! Continuing with the part-part-whole relationships and missing addends, this puzzle has been tons of fun for my kiddos. I hope you enjoy it too. I find that I need to sit down in small groups with this game at first, especially with my struggling students. Having conversations about which piece fits and why has been a great help!
I hope you found some new ideas for teaching Operations and Algebraic thinking in the primary grades. If you have a blog post on the topic please feel free to link up with us. Don't forget to check out all of the other great ideas and check back next month for seasonal (engaging/rigorous) activities!