First, a little exciting news to share. I was notified today that I'll be presenting at CAMT next July. For those of you outside of Texas, that's our state mathematics conference. I'm doing two sessions of a K-2 workshop on number sense routines--dot cards, 5- and 10-frames, rekenreks, etc. If you're in the San Antonio area July 10-12, I hope to see you!
Now on to business. Ask a kiddo who has just written 2 + 3 = 5 if it's okay to write it 5 = 2 + 3 and you're likely to get an emphatic NO! Enter common core standard 1.OA.7:
Understand the meaning of the equal sign, and determine if equations involving addition and subtraction are true or false. For example, which of the following equations are true and which are false? 6 = 6, 7 = 8 - 1, 5 + 2 = 2 + 5, 4 + 1 = 5 + 2.A great hands-on way to introduce this concept is actually a pan or bucket balance.
When your kiddos are ready for a little practice, I made a mat and some cards they can use to explore different equations and determine if they are true or false. Notice that you still want to have manipulatives to connect the concrete learning with the abstract equations. The kiddos basically just take two cards, place them on either side of the equal sign on the mat, build the number, and determine if the equation is true or false. Students can record their work in their math journal, and if they also draw a picture to represent their equation, you are bringing in representation. Click here to grab a copy of the mat and cards (combinations from 5 to 10). If you download this activity and use it in your classroom, I hope you'll leave a comment and let me know how it went!
UPDATE 12/27: I expanded this idea into a complete unit on the meaning of the equal sign! Check it out at my TpT store.