School activities

20 hands-on college activities for practicing distributive property

Are you struggling to find fun activities to get your middle school students interested in algebra? Well, we’re here to help! From introducing the abstract concept of distributive property using useful analogies, to interactive resources and cooperative learning activities. We’ve got 20 math activities to inspire students’ understanding and appreciation for this foundational skill and make your middle school classroom a zone of collaborative fun!

1. Multiplication Expressions

The distributive property can consist of multi-step equations involving unit decomposition, multiplication, and addition. A visual representation can be helpful so that students can see and touch the numbers used. This collaborative activity uses rows of foam squares to show how we break down and solve these types of equations.

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Having a mini whiteboard that students can use for partnered practice activities brings a lot more organization than when students share the main whiteboard. Here is a lesson idea to introduce the concepts of distributive property using colored blocks.

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3. The Distributive Physician

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Not only will your students love this activity because kids love to play pretend, but it also uses gummy bears! Help your middle school “doctors” operate on the gummy bears by cutting and rearranging them into different equations and groups.

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This review activity is ideal for practicing the concepts of distributive property. You can make your own deck of property association cards by writing equations on paper, then breaking them down into new equations, cutting the cards, and shuffling them all up!

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Have you ever thought you would use fries and burgers in your math class? Well, it’s time to show your middle schoolers how understanding distributive property can be useful in the real world. This lesson asks students to combine different foods into combo meals to see which option is the cheapest!

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Now you don’t have to use cupcakes to get that message across to your students, just make sure that whatever you choose, all your kids want it! Explain how, if you only handed out treats to the first row of students (a) it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the class (b). So, to be fair, we have to distribute the X (treat) both the a (line 1) and b (lines 2-3) to get axe+bx.

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When we teach the distributive property in algebra class in person or virtually, we can use the idea of ​​a rainbow to help students remember how to multiply numbers in parentheses. Watch this helpful instructional video to learn how to use the Rainbow Method in your next lesson!

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Whether your students are in a digital classroom or just need some extra practice at home, here’s a link to online games designed to help students grasp the concepts of distributive property.

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9. Distributive Property Maze Worksheet

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This maze activity can be a fun partner or individual task once you have gone over the main concepts of splitting and multiplying equations.

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10. Hands-On Dice Activity

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It’s time to play colorful and interactive training games with dice and construction paper! Divide your students into pairs and have the teams take turns rolling the dice into squares on the paper and solving the equations in the squares where the dice land.

Learn more: Pre-Algebra Coach

11. Cut and Paste Math Worksheets

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Here’s an activity sheet you can buy or use as a guide to create your own! The basic idea is to leave blank spaces in equations where students have to paste in the correct number. Cut out the missing numbers so students can glue them in the correct place.

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12. Multi-Step Coloring Page

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Many learners love when art is integrated into other subjects, it can bring difficult concepts to life! So here is a coloring page corresponding to various distributive property equations for your students to solve and color in the correct area using the suggested colors.

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13. Distributive Property Puzzle

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This link is a free PDF of a puzzle with multi-step equations that your students can work to solve, cut, and put together to create an awesome puzzle!

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14. Break Multiplication

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Once your students have learned the concepts, it’s time for them to practice creating their own grids! Make sure everyone has graph paper and crayons, then write down some equations and see what color blocks they create.

Learn more: Ashleigh Educational Journey

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You can create your own spinning wheel with numbers or equations on it for fun practice play with the whole class. This game can be useful for checking students’ understanding and seeing which concepts they have mastered and which need more work.

Learn more: Math Tech Connections

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This pre-made number activity is self-assessed and convenient because it uses Google Sheets, an online tool that most students are familiar with. The puzzle has equations that correspond to different images of dogs, which student won’t like that? !

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17. Online or printed board game

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This Halloween-themed board game is a fun downloadable resource that you can play with your students in class or have them try out at home!

Find out more: Pre-algebra teachers

18. Distributive Property Bingo

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Use these bingo card templates as a reference to create your own! Middle schoolers love bingo and will love to be the first to solve their equations and get five in a row!

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19. Lot of distributing cards

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A deck of cards can be your best friend as a math teacher. This website offers various map options using distributive property principles and a range of examples for practice and review.

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20. Card Sorting Activity

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Create your own laminated cards with numbers, squares and equations so your kids can sort, match and play other common card games like “go fish”!

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