Evaluating Algebraic Expressions Lesson Plan


Ever wondered how to teach evaluating algebraic expressions using substitution and PEMDAS to 6th or 7th grade students?

Use this artistic, real-life lesson plan to teach your students about evaluating algebraic expressions. Students will learn material with artistic guided notes (interactive sketch notes), a check for understanding, and practice with a doodle & color by number activity and a maze worksheet.

The lesson concludes with the real-life application of evaluating algebraic expressions for a birthday party. Students learn how they can more easily create and stick to a budget as they plan a party.

Get the Lesson Materials

Evaluating Algebraic Expressions Guided Notes & Doodles | Order of Operations

Evaluating Algebraic Expressions Guided Notes & Doodles | Order of Operations


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Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate algebraic expressions using the order of operations (PEMDAS)

  • Describe how to algebraic expressions to real-life situations, such as budgeting for a party

Note: This lesson only contains positive numbers only. Students do not need to know negative integer rules for this lesson. See the extensions for harder problems with both positive and negative integers.


Before this lesson, students should be familiar with:


Key Vocabulary

  • Algebraic expression

  • Substitution


  • Variable

  • Coefficient

  • Constant

  • Order of operations



  • As a hook, ask students why evaluating algebraic expressions is important in budgeting for a party. Refer to the last page of the guided notes as well as the FAQs below for ideas.

  • Use the guided notes to introduce the topic of evaluating algebraic expressions using PEMDAS. Use it also to explain the concept of substitution. Walk through the key points of the topic of the guided notes to teach. Refer to the FAQ below for a walk-through on this, as well as ideas on how to respond to common student questions.

    • Check for Understanding. Have students practice the expressions on the guided notes page. Call on students to talk through their answers. Based on student responses, reteach concepts that students need extra help with.


  • Have students practice evaluating algebraic expressions using the Doodle Math activity. In this activity, students will evaluate various expressions using substitution and color the corresponding sections of a picture according to a key.

  • Walk around to answer student questions and provide assistance as needed.

  • Fast finishers can dive into the maze activity for extra practice. You can assign it as homework for the remainder of the class.

Real-Life Application

  • Bring the class back together, and introduce the concept of budgeting for a birthday party. Discuss the costs associated with throwing a party, such as invitations, decorations, food, and entertainment. Refer to the FAQ for more ideas on how to teach it!


Additional Self-Checking Digital Practice (Pixel Art Google Sheets)

If you’re looking for digital practice for evaluating algebraic expressions, 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. For expressions with positive and negative integers, there’s Halloween and Christmas/Winter versions perfect for additional practice. For version with positive integers only, check out this spring/St. Patrick’s Day pixel art activity.

Real-Life Application Project

As a culminating activity, have students plan a birthday party on a budget. Provide them with a budget and a list of necessary items such as decorations, food, and entertainment. Students will need to use their knowledge of evaluating algebraic expressions to determine the cost of each item and ensure that they stay within budget. They can then present their party plan to the class and discuss how they used algebraic expressions to make decisions.


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