## Want to try before you buy?

Try these 6 free activities for grades 3 - 7.

Email me 6 free activities →Ever wondered how restaurants communicate phone orders under pressure? Combining like terms is a critical skill that can help you simplify these expressions and tally up orders quickly and accurately.

Use this artistic, real-life lesson plan to teach your students about combining like terms. Students will learn about what like terms are, how to combine them, and how to simplify expressions in order to solve real-world problems.

The lesson plan includes artistic guided notes, a check for understanding, practice with doodle math and a maze, and concludes with a real-life application of combining like terms for restaurant phone orders.

- Type: Lesson Plans
- Standards: CCSS 6.EE.A.4, CCSS 6.EE.A.3
- Grades: 6th Grade, 7th Grade
- Topic: Expressions
- Duration: 2 Hours

After this lesson, students will be able to:

Define like terms and explain how to combine them

Simplify expressions using combining like terms

Apply combining like terms to real-world situations, such as restaurant phone orders

Note: This lesson plan features positive numbers only, and doesn’t cover the distributive property. See my distributive property lesson plan for that!

Before this lesson, students should be familiar with:

Basic algebraic concepts, including variables and coefficients

Basic arithmetic skills, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division

Understanding of terms and coefficients (know how to identify parts of an expression)

Pencils

Colored pencils or markers

Combining Like Terms (Positive Numbers Only) Guided Notes

Like Terms

Coefficient

Variable

Exponents (Powers)

Simplify

Expression

As a hook, ask students why it is important for restaurants to be able to communicate phone orders quickly and accurately. Refer to the last page of the guided notes as well as the FAQs below for ideas.

Use the guided notes to introduce the concept of combining like terms. Walk through what like terms are, how to combine them, and how to simplify expressions using combining like terms.

Refer to the FAQ below for a walk through on this, as well as ideas on how to respond to common student questions.

Have students work through the problems on the first practice page, either collaboratively or independently.

Walk around and spot-check student answers on the check for understanding activity.

Based on student responses, reteach concepts that students need extra help with. If your class has a wide range of proficiency levels, you can pull out students for reteaching, and have more advanced students begin work on the practice exercises.

Have students practice combining like terms using the maze activity. Walk around to answer student questions.

Fast finishers can dive into the Doodle Math activity for extra practice (included in the

Combining Like Terms Magic Lesson). You can assign it as homework for the remainder of the class.

Bring the class back together, and introduce the concept of using combining like terms for calculating expenses at a restaurant. Explain that restaurant orders can be represented as expressions, and that combining like terms can help tally up the orders quickly and accurately.

If you’re looking for digital practice for combining like terms, try my Pixel Art activities in Google Sheets. Every answer is automatically checked, and correct answers unlock parts of a mystery picture. It’s incredibly fun, and a powerful tool for differentiation. There’s winter and spring versions perfect for additional practice.

A fun, no-prep way to practice combining like terms is Doodle Math — it's a fresh take on color by number or color by code. It includes 2 levels of practice, and is available free.

Like terms in math are terms that have the same variable(s) raised to the same power. For example, 3x and 5x are like terms, but 3x and 5y are not like terms. Combining like terms involves simplifying an expression by adding or subtracting terms that are like terms.

A variable is a symbol that represents a value that can change, whereas a coefficient is the numerical factor of a term that is multiplied by the variable. In other words, a variable is an unknown quantity that can take on different values, while a coefficient is a known constant that is multiplied by the variable.

A term is a single numerical or algebraic expression that is separated by a plus or minus sign. On the other hand, an expression is a group of terms, separated by plus or minus signs or parentheses, that can be simplified or evaluated.

Combining like terms means to simplify an algebraic expression by adding or subtracting terms that have the same variable raised to the same power. By combining like terms, the expression becomes simpler and easier to work with.

To simplify an expression using like terms, you first need to identify which terms have the same variable(s) and exponent(s). Then, you can combine those terms by adding or subtracting them.

For example:

Let's say we have the expression

`3x + 2y - 4x - y`

.We can simplify this by identifying the like terms

`3x`

and`-4x`

, and`2y`

and`-y`

.Combining

`3x`

and`-4x`

gives us`-x`

, and combining`2y`

and`-y`

gives us`y`

.So, the simplified expression is

`-x + y`

.

If you’re looking for a more visual explainer for your students, here’s a useful Khan Academy video:

Combining like terms can help with real-life situations by simplifying complex expressions and making them easier to work with. For example, in a restaurant, orders can be represented as expressions, and combining like terms can help tally up orders quickly and accurately. In general, combining like terms can help us better understand and analyze real-world situations that involve algebraic expressions.

Here are some examples of real-world situations where combining like terms can be useful:

**Restaurant Orders**: In a restaurant, orders can be represented as algebraic expressions. Combining like terms can help tally up orders quickly and accurately, especially during peak hours when time is of the essence.**Construction Projects**: In construction, combining like terms can help determine costs for materials and labor. This can be especially useful when working on large projects with multiple expenses.**Business and Finance**: Analyzing data in business and finance often involves expressions with multiple variables that need to be added or subtracted. Combining like terms can simplify these expressions and make it easier to analyze and understand the data.

By simplifying complex expressions, we can better understand and analyze real-world situations that involve algebraic expressions.

Try these 6 free activities for grades 3 - 7.

Email me 6 free activities →