My 8th grade math students struggle with understanding what a variable is and how to read problems which include variables. I made this lesson to walk them through the thought process and practice combining like terms. I designed it for our in-school intervention time (30 minutes per day for a week). The way I use it is to give out 1 page (F&B) each day, working through it at the kids' pace. By the end of the week all kids should master all 6 sheets (3 pages). Then I would give them a mini quiz to test their understanding. I offer that information to say that the entire packet at once might be too overwhelming for students.
*Please note that this is intended to provide an introduction to the idea of having letters in a math problem and does NOT address a variable holding a place for a numerical value. For example, "3a" would indicate 3 apples. It is the very foundational piece of variables. I plan to post a level 2 resource that addresses substituting for variables in equations and a level 3 resource that addresses solving to find the value of a variable in an equation at a later time. **Answer key is a separate listing due to page length requirements for free products.