Seeing Structure in Equations Using Food

By Tara Mason on Apr 24, 2017

Students will be reinforcing their knowledge of patterns and structures that lead to algebra equations.


When working one on one with a student on learning how to interpret structure in algebra expressions teachers can use real life examples to illustrate what the equation is actually saying. In this lesson, students will be using the structure of an expression to identity ways to rewrite it.

1. Using an example equation from a student's math class, have him/her look for patterns to see which terms can be combined into single terms. For braille users, operators that have horizontal dots in a single braille cell are addition and subtraction, both with dots 3 and 6. Terms or numbers repeated by addition or subtraction symbols cannot be combined.

  • If your student needs added practice, he/she can practice using tactile symbols for combining terms. For example, a square next to a triangle can make 1 single shape. That would be a term. A square next to a circle cannot make one single shape. That would be an expression.

2. After initially discussing these ideas and practicing using tactile symbols, a student could practice using food. For example: separating a single loaf of bread into several pieces of bread can be a way to think of several different terms. Adding items like sandwich bag to stand for parenthesis and additional ingredients can stand for additional terms.