Algebra for kids? Yup, this Missing Parts activity is just right.
It may sound lofty: “Algebra math for a first grader? How could this be!” I promise this isn’t the complicated “solve for X” that you faced in high school, even though this missing parts activity does use the same concept….
(Wasn’t that such a great cliff hanger? Like first I’m saying this isn’t easy…but then I liken it to your high school math. Omg. What is about to happen?)
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What is “Missing Parts” math?
In a nut shell: as children are developing their math skills, even in the early years of learning – kids are working on their algebraic knowledge.
This can look like:
Adding and subtracting, decomposing numbers, solving word problems, and finding the missing variable in an addition or subtraction sentence.
Because of all that math fun from High School, we think of algebra as (y4x2 + 2xy – y)/(x – 1) = 12 – but it doesn’t have to start that complicated.
That’s where missing parts math comes in.
A great math activity for kids
The actual First Grade Common Core State Standard is: CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.D.8
Determine the unknown whole number in an addition or subtraction equation relating three whole numbers
Part of fluency with addition and subtraction is understanding how these two operations work together and go together.
Playing a game like “missing parts” can really help improve that link for kids on their math journey as well as set them up for future success with solving for missing variables.
How to set up this Missing Parts activity
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On the white paper, I wrote addition sentences with an addend removed from the number sentence, such as “9 + __ = 12.”
That missing addend (3) is the number I wrote on a Post-it note.
I took all the missing parts on the sticky notes and hid them all around the downstairs of our house.
Why did I hide the sticky notes?
Because math needs movement.
When we think about math lessons, we link it to pencil and paper. We think sitting at a desk and doing seat work.
This isn’t how math needs to be! Math doesn’t need to just be worksheets.
So for this activity, we added movement into our math. This is a whole body activity with whole body learning. It is so important for kids that we let them use their body to learn.
RELATED: Do you need more big kid activities? Check out my list for 5-7 year olds.
We can’t just keep them sitting. They need their whole body.
Here’s why this is better than a worksheet:
- A worksheet is one dimensional. It’s about putting pencil to paper and finding the right answer.
- Kids finish the problem set and turn in the worksheet. That’s it.
This is SO MUCH MORE THAN a one time activity.
My son (7) must have complete and re-completed this activity 5 times over the course of 3 days.
You can’t get that kind of learning from a worksheet.
A movement, hands-on activity is so much better than a worksheet.
Algebra learning with movement and fun…
You need to try this missing parts activity.
It’s an amazing way to help kids practice a BIG skill in a super amazing way.