Loved that Lesson: algebraic properties!

It’s been a while since I’ve linked up with Meg Anderson from The Teacher Studio mainly because I don’t have my own students anymore!  love-that-linky-button

This past month I was pushing in to a few 7th grade math classrooms and was reminded of a fabulous activity that they use each fall when teaching algebraic properties!  I wanted to share it with you because you could easily recreate it in your own classroom 🙂

Materials needed:

various colors of construction paper


dark marker

The teachers had the pieces below pre-cut with numbers 0-10, parenthesis, a few fractions (though you could just have a fraction bar piece and let students create their own fractions) and operation symbols.

Each set of students would get a the cards that you see laid out on the table.  Then the teacher would say a property and the students had to work together to create their own property using the cards provided.


Here you can see the students working on the distributive property.


And here you can see an (almost) example of the associative property.  The great part about this activity is that the teacher can now use this example that the student created as a talking point…. ‘why is this only an “almost” example?’


Here the students played with the idea of multiplicative inverse.


Because they had the answer so quickly, I asked them if they could (with a bit of a stretch) use the same 5 cards and make the problem into an identity.  It took them a few moments but they came up with this picture!


The students absolutely loved having the freedom to create their own problems.  Being so open ended allowed for many entry points and many more opportunities for student success.  This activity also allows for mathematical discourse, reasoning and explanation of how and why the example works and a great time for teachers to check for understanding!

 After creating their own properties, students played a property board game where they had to give examples of properties that were pictorial, numerical and/or verbal.  Having the multiple representations of each of the properties helped solidify the sometimes abstract concept.Picture1

Categories: hands-on math, loved that lesson linky, mathematical reasoning, and patterns, functions and algebra.


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