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Lesson Plans
What Is Equal?
3rd–5th Grade
Objectives Objectives
  • Students will recognize and define the equal sign.
  • Students will demonstrate that both sides of an equation are equal in value.
Materials Materials Needed
Introduction Introduction

Write the following number sentences on the board or on chart paper:

7 + 6 = 13
13 = 13
12 = 2 + 10
5 + 5 = 7 + 3
10 – 2 = 4 + 4
2 + 1 + 3 = 2 + 4

Point to each expression and ask students to put their thumbs up if the equation is true or their thumbs down if the equation is false. Ask students to explain their choices.

Students may be surprised to learn that all of the equations are true. Explain that the equal sign does not just mean “this is the answer.” It means that one side of the equation is equal to the other—the value on the right side is the same as the value on the left side.



  1. Provide each student with a “What Is Equal?” work mat and at least 26 beans.
  2. Point to the first equation on the board (7 + 6 = 13). Instruct students to place 7 beans on the left side of the scale on their work mats. Then have them place 6 more beans on the left side. Finally, have them place 13 beans on the right side.
  3. Ask students to compare the two sides of the scale. Do they have the same number of beans on each side? Explain that because both sides are equal, students know the equation is true.
  4. Repeat the activity for the remaining equations on the board.

Guided Practice Guided Practice

  1. Divide students into pairs and give each pair a copy of the “Three In a Row” game board, a set of “Three In a Row” playing cards and a set of “Three In a Row” game markers.
  2. Have students take turns drawing a card and reading the number or expression. Students then find a space on the board that is equal to the number or expression, and place a marker on that space. (For example, if a student draws the 4 + 5 card, he could place a marker on the space marked 11 – 2, 6 + 3, 9 or 4 + 5.)
  3. The first student to cover three spaces in a row (down, across or diagonally) wins the game!

the 3rd–5th Grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)




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