Every year, when I present The Distributive Property using only numerical expressions, students argue... "Why can't we just use the Order of Operations?" To tell them they need the Distributive Property later in Algebra is not an acceptable answer, (trust me) so I designed this activity to allow students to validate and explore BOTH methods for simplifying numerical expressions.
This task guides students through some expressions that are more easily simplified by using the Distributive Property, while others are simpler by following the Order of Operations. Allowing students to analyze both methods for each problem, then state their opinions about the methods, makes for a much more pleasant experience. A sample answer key is included.
Check out this post on my blog for additional classroom perspective: MathyCathy's Blog