Understanding Equal Equations in 1st Grade

Understanding Equal Equations task cards


My 1st graders tend to struggle with understanding what equal really means.  I have always found that using a balance scale to visualize this concept helps a lot!


I start by using a differentiated set of task cards to help students become more comfortable with this concept.

  • 12 green level cards with tier 1 equations: students decide if two numbers are equal.          


 an example of the green task cards, balancing two numbers


  • 20 yellow cards with tier 2 equations: students decide if two addition or two subtraction or a number is equal to an equation. 


                         an example of the yellow task cards, balancing two numbers


  • 28 red cards with tier 3 equations:  students decide if two equations balance, all featuring a mix of addition and subtraction 

                 

an example of the red task cards, balancing two numbers


Each set comes with recording sheets and answer keys.




Using balance scales to visualize these equations when they are starting out is helpful for all learners. 

We use those during partner work times, but we use printable scales for independent work. I put my in dry erase pockets and my students draw to represent the numbers and equations.


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printable balance scales to allow your students to draw or use manipulatives to solve equations


How do you teach balancing equations to your class?


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