Manipulatives and Modeling Equations

Students learn to represent equations using manipulatives, such as cups and counters. A cup represents a positive variable, an upside-down cup represents a negative variable, a yellow counter represents a positive constant, and a red counter represents a negative constant. For example, the equation 2x - 3 = 5 can be represented as two cups, three red counters, an equals sign, and five yellow counters. Students also learn to model the solution to a given equation by getting a cup by itself on one side of the equation.

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