Understanding how to work with expressions involving variables can be such a huge leap for kids. On more than one occasion, I’ve had students tell me, “I was great at math until it started to involve letters. What’s up with that??” What I constantly tried to convey to my students was that a variable is still just a number. When you’re feeling stuck, replace it with a number to try and figure out what’s going on. So if your students are feeling frustrated or need extra practice simplifying and evaluating expressions, you will love this simple equivalent expressions activity.
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- Student handout (which is free in my shop)
Included in the Equivalent Expressions Activity:
There are two different cut and paste activities included in the download.
The first requires students to simplify expressions, and then match them to the simplified version.
Then, students glue them on their answer sheet to show that the expressions are equivalent to each other.
This is an important distinction, because often, students think that they are changing an expression to something else. But in reality, the expressions are equivalent, just written a different way.
This will be important for them to know and understand as they move on to solving equations.
An equation is stating up front that the expressions on either side of the equal sign are just that: equal. Therefore, as students manipulate the expressions, they have to be careful to keep them equal (i.e. not changing something on one side but not the other).
The second cut and paste page includes expressions that are not simplified versions, but rather, expressions that have the same value.
This will be more challenging for students, and depending on the age and abilities of your students, may require some guidance.
Obviously, evaluating the expressions with the same value will show which are equal.
Evaluating when x = 0 is the easiest way to do this, but I would encourage you to let students think and try things on their own before telling them what to do. This will force them to think about what makes two expressions equal or not.
And finally, this download also includes an answer key for both pages to make checking students’ work easy.
This free resource is part of my Algebra Essentials resource bundle, covering tons of Algebra topics with hands on lessons, unique practice pages and an extensive final project. To learn more or purchase the bundle, click the graphic below!
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