Awesome Arithmetricks – Simplifying Equations

awesome arithmetricks - simplifying equations

My children (8 and 10) don’t spend as much time doing sums as other children. Whereas most elementary maths curricula focus on arithmetic, we work on a balance mathematical skills, including critical-thinking and problem-solving. One of my main aims is to stimulate my kids’ interest in and passion for maths.

A place for arithmetic algorithms

But I do want my kids to be number-confident – they need to be able to use arithmetical algorithms. I have two priorities here. I want them to be proficient at using algorithms (to accurately follow step-by-step procedures). I also want them to know how the algorithms work (why they are using them).

Murderous Maths: Awesome Arithmetrics

Murderous Maths: Awesome Arithmetricks is the perfect way to review arithmetic skills and develop number sense.  C(10) and I are reading the book at the moment. We enjoy the jokes and the story, and stop to practise procedures whenever we need to.

(We got our copy of the book as part of the Murderous Maths boxset.)

How we use Awesome Arithmetricks

We do maths side-by-side on the sofa, mini-whiteboards and hot cups of tea to hand (we’re English, after all). We keep manipulatives and iPads within easy reach, and grab them to work through concrete examples, play a game or do a few drills. (C(10) used this free subtraction app yesterday, for example. Maths apps don’t get much more basic but it provided the instant, no-frills practice she wanted.)

Awesome Arithmetricks is divided into four sections –  addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. But it contains a lot more than the basics. Examples are given within entertaining stories, and questions are posed as puzzles.

Simplifying equations

This week we worked through the section on simplifying equations. We learned four tricks to making an equation prettier:

  • Always treat both sides the same
  • An operator sign must stay with the number that comes after it
  • You can swap both sides over completely if you want
  • If you move a number to the other side, you must change its sign. (I drew a diagram of balance scales and we went through the in-between steps that make this so.)

Puzzle – Spot the lethal equation

Students then test their understanding by tackling this puzzle (taken from Awesome Arithmetricks):
“You have just been bitten by a fearsome two-headed Arctic ice snake. Already your blood is starting to freeze solid, but in front of you is a cabinet of mathematically prepared antidotes which were made up from the equation:

awesome arithmetricks - simplifying equations

Three of these bottles have correct equations on them, but the fourth could be LETHAL! You haven’t time to work all the sums out, but by altering the original formula using the tricks, can you see which three equations are correct?”

awesome arithmetricks - simplifying equations

C(10) enjoyed this puzzle so much she worked through it several times over the course of a week.

Dragon Box Algebra – An algebra game

Dragon Box Algebra 5+ is a fun puzzle game that teaches kids the principles of algebra. It perfectly complements a study of simplifying equations. (The game is available for most computers and mobile devices.)

C(10) worked through all the levels of the app a few months ago (for fun). So, after we’d read about simplifying equations in Awesome Arithmetricks, we played with a few algebraic equations.  C(10) enjoyed solving them using what she’d learned playing Dragon Box Algebra and reading Awesome Arithmetricks.

Awesome Arithmetricks - simplifying equations

I’m appreciatively linking up here:

After School Linky Party

Wonderful Wednesdays

Entertaining and Educational

Weekly Wrap-Up

Collage Friday

The Hip Homeschool Hop

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