Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Simplifying Expressions with Algebra Tiles Matching Cards

This is a very simple matching activity where students are given a bunch of algebraic expressions (in one variable) and simplified expressions (both in algebraic and algebra tile form) and all they have to do is match up each expression with their simplified form. This is not meant to be a long or complex activity and could best be used as a warm up or end of class review or possibly just in the middle of a long class to switch up the period.
  • MPM1D - add and subtract polynomials with up to two variables [e.g., (2x – 5) + (3x + 1), (3x2y + 2xy2) + (4x2y – 6xy2)], using a variety of tools (e.g., algebra tiles, computer algebra systems, paper and pencil);
  • MFM1P - add and subtract polynomials involving the same variable up to degree three [e.g., (2x + 1) + (x2– 3x + 4)], using a variety of tools (e.g., algebra tiles, computer algebra systems, paper and pencil);
  • There are four sets of cards (each group would get a set so they aren't all working on the same questions). Each set of cards will have answers that have the same characteristics (Set 1 - answer is a trinomial, Set 2 - answer is a binomial with no squared term, Set 3 answer is a binomial with no x term, Set 4 - answer is a binomial with no constant term). A set should contain 12 cards. Four long expressions, four algebraic answers and four algebra tile answers.
  • Print and cut out the cards (we suggest laminating them to). Note that each card has what set number it belongs to so that if you mix them up you can easily sort them back into their sets. You may wish to put each set in an envelope or ziplock bag for easy distribution.
  • You will probably want to have physical algebra tiles for students to use while doing the actual simplification.
  • Note that because there doesn't seem to be a consensus on which colour algebra tiles represent positive or negative, there are two sets. One that assumes red is positive and one that assumes red is negative. Keep which ever is the protocol for your class and discard the other.

  1. Students could be put into groups or do this individually. Ether way, since there are only four sets you will need to have multiple copies of each set. 
  2. Give each group an envelop and tiles and ask them to match the unsimplified expression with the simplified expression and algebra tile representation. 
  3. Once each group is done, have groups switch their envelopes. (1 gives to 2, 2 gives to 3 etc). You can do this 4 times. 


  • SimplifyingPolynomialsMatching (pdf, doc)
Did you use this activity? Do you have a way to make it better? If so tell us in the comment section. Thanks

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