Investigating equality is great opportunity to extend student’s understanding of numbers and has connections to addition and subtraction.  If equality has not been well explored in previous years, grade 3 teachers will likely have to move back to concrete explorations.

Without these previous rich experiences, students will usually misunderstand the equals sign.  They see it as “what you put before the answer”, rather than an indication that the left and right sides of the equals sign are balanced or have the same amount.



Tilt or Balance

This is a fairly basic true/false activity using a number balance. It would usually be done at an earlier grade, but may be required for some classes or students to aid understanding.

What’s Missing?

Students look at equations and deduce the missing number, then check their work with a number balance.

Balance It
An activity where students turn over three playing cards onto a mat, and then decide where an additional card is needed to make a true equation. The mat is designed to print on legal size paper.

Shuffle An Equation

A game where students use the cards in their hand to make equations. The mat is designed to fit on ledger size paper.

Parts of Numbers

This is basically exploring the part part whole relationship using a number balance. While it may be fairly basic for grade 3 students, the recording of student work is useful as it makes students put traditional addition sentences into a 7 = 4 + 3 format which some may not have experienced. The mat on the last page is designed to fit on ledger size paper.

Equality Crossword

Students fill in a template to make a number crossword that stresses equations. The teacher can fill in some numbers so there is only one solution – I’ll try to get some samples added.

Equality Diagnostic

This is a first draft of a JK to grade 3 diagnostic assessment. I anticipate making some changes.


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