Distributive Property


The distributive property is one of my favorite concepts to teach in 7th grade math. To help get the students actively engaged in the activity, I like to call it the “party method.” We discuss how the distributive property is like the party method because the person on the outside of the parentheses goes and talks to everyone on the inside. I try to make it a big deal and talk about how some people are social butterflies and talk to EVERYONE and others just hang out in the same spot throughout the entire party. I like to use the graphic below to help reinforce the idea behind the party method. We spend a lot of time going over one party, two party, left the party and late to the party examples. I can’t stress enough the importance of teaching students to distribute the negative. I find that this is the part of the concept they struggle with the most, especially when the negative is in the second set of parentheses. I have a set of digital notes covering the distributive property. Click on the image to access.


There are three activities I like to use when teaching the distributive property:

1) Ripple Effect: This google form resource is a great way to practice the distributive property. To begin, students will answer the first problem. Their solution will be included in part of the next problem. They will continue until they have reached the solution for the purple box. Students will then input their answer into the google form to see if they are correct. The form will give them the response, "sorry, try again" until the correct answer is given.

2) Stick Figure Me Out: This google slide resource is a fun + creative way to have students practice the distributive property. Students will answer 10 questions. Their answers will give them hints about their stick student. In the end, they will be able to click and drag icons to decorate their student + their room.

3) Trail Activity: The final activity is a great way to get students up and moving around the classroom. To begin, students start with any of the 20 problems located on the bottom of the card. Once they have a simplified answer, they will look for the expression on the top of another card around the room. The new expression will tell students which problem is next in line. Students will continue working until they complete the "trail" and successfully simplify all 20 problems.

Click on the images to view more information on each activity. The trail activity is available a free download, so I recommend checking it out!