Algebraic Thinking Task Cards: Number Sense for Grades 3-5

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150 Ratings
The Teacher Studio
Grade Levels
3rd - 5th
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32 pages
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What educators are saying

My kids love task cards and these were no exception. I appreciate that they are varying levels of difficulty so all can participate.
My students were very upset that letters started showing up in their math lessons. These cards helped them to better understand why the letters were helpful.


This set of 52 differentiated algebraic thinking task cards is perfect to help students use problem solving to learn about balancing simple equations and truly understanding what that equal sign means.

The concept of “equals” is such an essential mathematical concept—and one that is often not taught explicitly in many math programs. Consider the following problem:

5 + 8 = ____ + 3

Students have a good sense of the concept of equals know that “10” goes in the box. Every year, I am shocked by the number of students who think it is “13”—or that the problem can’t be done at all! Many students are programmed to think that the “=“ sign means “find the answer” when, in actuality, it is a sign indicating that the two sides balance.

Deep understanding of this helps down the road with algebra and other more advanced math—and also makes a smooth transition to INequalities as well. Moving our “box” (or “variable”, or a letter, or a line, or a question mark) to different places in equations helps students think about numbers and equality and not just filling in the blank. This task card set is geared toward helping students develop this understanding. I tell them that they are doing algebra—and they absolutely love it!

Consider doing a few of the early cards as a class to teach the concept and then let your students take off!

One of my students’ favorite activities is to make their OWN task cards, so once they have learned this concept, send them off to make their own cards at a variety of levels and then print and laminate those for your class to use as well. ENJOY!


This resource is also available as part of a "Teaching Tandem" product where you can get this resource AND a set of algebra thinking concept sorts combined at a reduced price.


Want even MORE of them? Now there is a "Set 2". Just CLICK HERE TO VIEW Set 2

It is also available as a digital task card resource in my GOOGLE EDITION resources!



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Total Pages
32 pages
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.
Add up to four two-digit numbers using strategies based on place value and properties of operations.
Explain why addition and subtraction strategies work, using place value and the properties of operations.
Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.
Multiply one-digit whole numbers by multiples of 10 in the range 10–90 (e.g., 9 × 80, 5 × 60) using strategies based on place value and properties of operations.


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