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ERIC Number: EJ855964
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1326-0286
Equivalence and Equations in Early Years Classrooms
Warren, Elizabeth; Mollinson, Annette; Oestrich, Kym
Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, v14 n1 p10-15 2009
Early algebraic thinking in a primary context is not about introducing formal algebraic concepts into the classroom but involves reconsidering how one thinks about arithmetic. Early algebraic thinking assists young students to engage effectively with arithmetic in ways that support engagement with arithmetic structure rather than arithmetic as a tool for computation. The distinction between arithmetic thinking and algebraic thinking in the early years' context is best defined as: arithmetic thinking focuses on product (a focus on arithmetic as a computational tool) and algebraic thinking focuses on process (a focus on the structure of arithmetic). With regards to equivalence in the early years, there are four key areas that students should explore: (1) Developing the comparative language that assists in describing equivalent and non-equivalent situations; (2) Developing an understanding that equals means that the two expressions are equivalent; (3) Representing equations in a variety of different formats including equations with more than one number on the left hand side (e.g., 2 + 5 = 3 + 2 + 2 and 7 = 5 + 2); and (4) Using the "balance principle" to find unknowns. In this article, the authors explain these four areas and provide examples and suggestions on how young children can develop powerful understandings of equivalence and equations. (Contains 8 figures and 1 table.)
Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT). GPO Box 1729, Adelaide 5001, South Australia. Tel: +61-8-8363-0288; Fax: +61-8-8362-9288; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A