Solving Equations Activities Round Up

We are now in Week 4 of the school year and my Algebra students have been hard at work solving equations. I've told them that Algebra is a house that is built on the foundation of being able to solve equations, so I want to make sure they have a strong foundation. I have so many fun activities for this unit - I don't want it to end!

First I introduce them to the idea of an equation on the first day of school, with this puzzle. I loved the hearts instead of variables and that all the equations can be solved with mental math. In fact, I told them they were not allowed to write anything down, which lead to some great group discussions.

On Day 2, I introduced the Properties of Equality with these fun notes for their interactive notebooks

Then we practiced solving two-step equations with this flower coloring activity. I always love hanging these on my walls because of the great variety in colors students choose. 

I also did not let them use a calculator, but they could use this cool number line that folds out of their INB from Math=Love or the big number line in front of my classroom.

Day 3, I reminded them about like terms with these awesome doodle notes from Math Giraffe. I printed them two-per page so they fit perfectly in their INBs. I have been making sure to tell students that they should take the time to doodle, add color and pizzazz to their notes. It's fun to see them take pride in their work. I was very proud of my Algebra INBs last year, but this year's are already better!

The students practiced solving equations with the distributive property and combining like terms with this puzzle. I love activities like this because students must work together to finish it. They strategize and problem solve and are able to self-check their work when their answer doesn't match one of the puzzle pieces left. These puzzles are my favorite practice activity!

Day 4 we looked at the difference between combining like terms and variables on both sides of the equals sign. I tried this zombie flip book, and the students loved it! The story is really cute about a zombie appocolypse at school - teenagers + zombies = instant engagement! I made enough books for each group of three to have one and I told them they could not move on until everyone agreed on an answer. I love that students received immediate feedback as they worked their way through the story. If they made a mistake they were eaten by zombies! I had some groups finished and then at the end of the work period, I told everyone to turn to p. 37, and they answered two more problems and escaped.

 We then talked about special solutions with this fun activity. I have used this one for three years now and it's a favorite - I love their discussions about scale #3. Then we talk about it, and they get a little mad when I tell them the answer is "no solution." We worked out problems with no solution and infinite solutions and I had them draw the scales to represent the problems so they had a visual of why the answers are no solution and infinite solutions.

The district made us give a baseline assessment on the fifth day of school, and I had students work on this coloring activity when they finished.

There has been a lot of shuffling of students to try to balance classes and make sure all students are in the right classes, so I decided to do a day of review next. We worked on some multi-step equations and word problems. I gave them this fun phone for their notebook and the mnemonic device "Don't Call Me After Midnight" to remember the order to isolate the variable. (More than one student put the 'phone' to their ear and pretended to make a call).

Then students completed a Versatiles activity. These are another one of my favorite ways to practice. I can easily create an activity from 12 problems and an answer key and the students place the tiles in the answer slots as they work. If they get all the answers right, their tiles make a picture when they flip it. If not, they can easily see their mistakes and go back to those problems. And I can make a TON of different patterns [to keep students on their toes ;)]

Next we worked on solving equations with proportions. I loved these examples from my textbook where students have to pick out the proportions that are set up correctly or incorrectly. I always make students write out the units so avoid making an error in setting up the proportion. We practicing solving equations with proportions with this fun maze activity from Amazing Mathematics. The self-checking aspect is so important to me when students are practicing so that they do not continue to make errors. They know when their answer doesn't match that they need to stop and ask for help from a peer or me. Each correct answer leads them one step closer to solving the maze.

My plan for Friday was to start literal equations, but Hurricane Hermine came to town and our entire district (and a lot of Florida) had our first "Weather Day." The hurricane had excellent timing for a four day weekend for us and we had no more damage than a rainy day. 


  1. These look like awesome activities!

    Do you have a link to the Property of Equality notes by chance?

    1. I think I have correctly linked it now. Sorry about that! Enjoy.


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