Homeschool Math Newsletter, Vol. 14
December 2007

Hello! This is Maria Miller. This is a short, short newsletter (most of the world is probably busy with shopping etc.).

I just have one little GIFT for you to download:

Balance Problems (a PDF)

(Click on the link, and choose "save".)

I've included these pages in my future Math Mammoth Grade 4-A complete worktext.

These are problems where the children solve for the "unknown" weight. They are presented as pan balance (scales) problems, and can actually be kind of fun (like puzzles)!

These kind of balance problems will help children develop algebraic thinking, and help dispel the myth that the equal sign ("=") is some kind of "operator" that means "find the answer".

You see: many students view "=" as "find the answer operator", so that "3 + 4 = ?" means "Find what 3 + 4 is," and "3 + 4 = 7" means that when you add 3 and 4, you get 7. To students with this operator-view of equality, a sentence like "11 = 4 + 7" or "9 + 5 = 2 × 7;" makes no sense.

You might also find these resources useful:

Balance word problems from Math Kangaroo

Algebraic Reasoning Game - a weighing scales game that practices algebraic reasoning

Interactive Pan Balance with Shapes

I wish you all happy Christmas / Holiday time. Get some rest!

Till next time,
Maria Miller

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