# Helping children understand balancing sums

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Rainbows end, Mar 19, 2007.

1. ### Rainbows end

I wonder if any of you have stumbled across any resources for teaching balancing sums. A large group in my class are struggling with the concept, despite doing lots of work on missing numbers and inverse operations.
What they don't get is this type of this type of thing: 25 - 4 = _ x 7 but they could calculate _ x 7 = 21.
What I'm really looking for is some kind of bucket scales where I can put calculations on each side and they need to balance so that kids can visualise the concept. Is there such a thing? I've searched but with no luck. Any ideas? please.

2. ### Rainbows end

I wonder if any of you have stumbled across any resources for teaching balancing sums. A large group in my class are struggling with the concept, despite doing lots of work on missing numbers and inverse operations.
What they don't get is this type of this type of thing: 25 - 4 = _ x 7 but they could calculate _ x 7 = 21.
What I'm really looking for is some kind of bucket scales where I can put calculations on each side and they need to balance so that kids can visualise the concept. Is there such a thing? I've searched but with no luck. Any ideas? please.

3. ### trinity0097New commenter

I find it helps to drum it into them that the = doesn't mean "the answer to" or "equals" (in the usual sense), but that it means "is the same as"

I just make balances in Publisher, using a straight line and a triangle, then put the calculation on it in a text box.

(and please (one of my bugbears!) don't call them sums, they are calculations, as sum means only addition!)

I agree though that pupils find this hard, the Mental Maths series by Schofield Sims uses lots of examples like this and I have pupils using these for a starter in every lesson who get stuck on these everytime!

4. ### Rainbows end

Sorry about use of 'sums'. I agree that they're calculations and do tell the kids this. I also explain the meaning of equals as being 'the same as' for this purpose and have used lots of methods for showing this, including drawing pictures. I have also drawn scales on IWB but am looking for something that will actually move when they are balanced/unbalanced, which I don't think publisher will do. Will it? Thanks for your help.

I use the children standing on either side of a big equals sign:

Eg 7 children and 3 children = 2 groups of 5 children

Very simply at first so the basic calc doesn't scare them off. But is visual and I keep saying 'IS THE SAME AS' to explain equal to.

6. ### trinity0097New commenter

We have this problem when teaching solving equations, I've yet to find something that actually moves when you do stuff.

7. ### Rainbows end

A gap in the market there for someone who's a genious on the computer I think! Thanks Trinity.

I have tried that too Grommet. They're OK with basics but seem to forget it when anything more complicated using a variety of operations is involved. Then comes the problem of greater than and less than too.
Trouble is that half the class get it but quite a few don't. I don't want to spend loads more time going over with the whole class and was hoping to find an ICT tool that would help them to visualise and then they could move onto using independently. Just for those that need it.

8. ### mary17

Hi
Was just looking for something totally different and came across this, it might be just what you're after...

http://www.crick.northants.sch.uk/pagenumeracy.html

Scroll down to Number Balance, theres a KS1 version and a KS2 one beneath.

Hope it helps

9. ### trinity0097New commenter

Perfect! Thanks!

10. ### mecky

At KS1 we use a two-pan balance and rolls of sweets. Polo are cheap and heavy enough to tip the balance. I make bundles of 2-5 rolls with cling film. They love experimenting and we record the equations, including .

11. ### ragpicker

'Thinking Mathematically - Integrating arithmetic and algebra in the elementary school'
Carpenter, T.P., Franke, M.L. & Levi, L. (2003)

provides a framework for this that is based on children's thinking rather than resources.

12. ### Rainbows end

Brilliant Mary! That's just what I'm looking for. Thanks.