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Can Your Third Graders Do This?

Solve for A, B, and C using the following equations.

2A + B = 18
B + C = 12
3A = 15
My third graders can! However it looks more like this:
My
students think this is great fun. They have no idea they are exploring
linear functions or algebraic relationships. All they know is that these
problems make them think and they seem to like that.

I usually
introduce algebraic thinking problems to third grade students during
our unit on multiplication and division. As you know, this topic does go
on for quite some time and it can get a little, dare I say, dull.
Algebraic reasoning problems give young students a chance to apply their
knowledge of basic math facts to fairly complex problems. Problems
like this inspire young minds and satisfy their need for a greater
challenge. My students are incredibly proud when they are able to solve
one of these math problems successfully.

To
make things even more interesting, I ask my students to create their
own scale problems. We begin with two scales which I improvise with
pieces of plain copy paper. I then give the students a variety of
objects such as base ten blocks, colored cubes, and geometric tiles.
They choose two types of objects to work with and begin creating their
scale problems. They have to decide upon a value for each scale and then
check it to make sure it works. After that, the students switch places and try
to solve the problem. It's one of their favorite activities and it
gives me great joy to see them so actively engaged in problem solving.

Give it a try. You won't be disappointed!
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