Bruce(6.5) and I are now on lesson 3 of Hands On Equations, the incredible hands-on approach to learning algebra at a young age. I sound like an advertisement, but I don’t have any affiliation with the company, I promise! 🙂 From the above picture you can see what type of problems Bruce is currently working on.
As his mother, I have to point out that his handwriting is a lot better than this example shows. It was 8pm last night when we “played” this, and since it was “a game” I let him be sloppy. Bruce was also eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the same time.
Here is how you set up the board for problem #3: x + 3x = x + x + 10
Two of the x’s cancel each other out. So the leagal move is to take them away.
At this point, it is really easy to see that x = 5. Then you put the pieces back on the board so that you can manualy verify that 20 = 20.
I was talking with my friend Ari of Discipuli Speak fame, who was a math whiz himself at a very young age and who is now a teacher, and he was telling me how important it is for kids to understand that what’s on the left side of “=” has to balance what’s on the right side. It’s important that kids don’t just think of “=” as a signal to write the answer afterwards. Well, we are only on lesson #3 of Hands On Equations, and I’m pretty sure Bruce understands this concept pretty well now, and he’s only six and a half. That’s pretty darn cool!