Activity:

# Balancing Equations: Step it Up!

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### What You Need:

• unlined white
• paperblack marker
• multi-colored markers

### What You Do:

1) Begin with a simple, one-step equation.

In black marker, write:

n + 2 = 5

Say:

• “You must get n by itself.”
• “What is the opposite of +2?” (-2)
• “What you do to one side of the equation, you must do to the other side.”

Show:

n + 2 – 2 = 5 – 2 (Write “- 2 “ on both sides in red.)

n = 3

2) Practice a one-step subtraction equation this way.

Show:

n – 3 = 6

n – 3 + 3 = 6 + 3

n = 9

3) Next, move on to two-step equations.

In black marker, write:

5y – 10 = 5

Say:

• “You must get “y” by itself.”
• “What is the opposite of - 10?” (+10)
• “What you do to one side of the equation, you must do to the other side.”

Show:

5y – 10 + 10 = 5 + 10

5y = 15

Say:

• “5y means ‘5 times y’.”
• “What is the opposite of ‘times’?” (divide)
• “To get y by itself, divide both sides by 5.”

Show:

5y = 15 (Write “/ 5” on both sides in green.)

5y / 5 = 15 / 5

y = 3

Tips:

1. By using colors, students can easily see and review the steps required to solve one and two-step equations.
2. Keep practicing until the process of solving simple equations becomes automatic.
3. Equations quickly become more complex, requiring several steps. Be sure your middle-schooler has a concrete understanding of the basics so she is able to move ahead with confidence.