My Favorites: 2 Equation Activities

I decided to give the #MTBoS #MtbosBlogsplosion blogging initiative a try, at least for this week.  This week’s topic is “My Favorite” and in typical me fashion, I couldn’t pick just one, so here are a couple of my current favorites related to solving equations.  Ask me in a couple weeks what “my favorites” are, and I’d likely give you a different answer depending on what topic I’m covering then.

My Favorite App:  SolveMe Mobiles

I’m probably super late in discovering SolveMe Mobiles, but I love it!  I’ve used it with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders and all students have been enjoyed it.  One of my 6th graders came to me this week, “Can you please help me with this puzzle?  I was working on it last night with my brother and we couldn’t figure it out.  We stayed up until 10:00 trying to figure it out.”  You know you’ve found a winner when a students voluntarily does math at home, gets his brother to play along, and they stay up late trying to figure it out!


If you haven’t checked this app out yet, I strongly encourage you to do so.  (There is also a website if your students don’t have iPads.)  I love that the app is simple and easy to use, but it also offers many different features.  Students can draw on the screen, zoom in and out, and you can drag down from the mobile and it creates an equation with the shapes.  I have only used the “play” mode with students, but they are also able to build their own.

If students type in an incorrect answer the mobiles tilt to reflect that one side is heavier than the other.


I’ve also had some great conversations with kids when they do something like I’ve got pictured below and they tell me that it’s balanced and wonder why it doesn’t work.


My Favorite Movement Activity:  Balance Points

My first year teaching I went to Minnesota’s annual math conference and attended Sara Van Der Werf’s session on movement.  The entire session was a game-changer for me.  Not only was it the first time I was able to experience first-hand Sara’s awesomeness, but I also took away a ton of stuff I instantly applied to my classroom.  Right away, I saw the impact movement had on my students and my lessons, AND realized that movement activities don’t have to take away from the time we’re doing math.

To play Balance Points, students are paired up, and I put an equation on the board such as x + 5 = 9.  While staying connected in some way, such as holding hands, students must show the correct answer by having that many body parts touching the ground.  I encourage them to be creative and won’t accept “boring” answers.  0609_wheelbarrowrace

I wish I had pictures to share of my students playing this.  They LOVE it.  There isn’t a person in the room who isn’t smiling and laughing, myself included!   There’s usually a lot of  “Come quick!  Check our answer!” because students are about ready to fall over from the crazy positions they’ve come up with.  So fun!!  I haven’t done this, but you could use this for order of operations as well.

What other ways could you use this with students?  Let me know what you try!


3 thoughts on “My Favorites: 2 Equation Activities

  1. I love mobile problems! I used them with my 6th grade classes over the last couple years to help develop an understanding of balance/equality. This year, I introduced these puzzles early in the year and they were really helpful for showing students when a linear equation has 1, 0, or infinite solutions. I don’t have iPads, so I typically throw a mobile up on the projector for bellwork. I didn’t really use them last month, so your post was a good reminder to throw them back into the mix!


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