How To Teach Using Algebra Tiles

Suggested Books (paid link)

As a math teacher, I assumed that most teachers were teaching beginning Algebra with the use of Algebra Tiles©. When I became a secondary math trainer, I found out that most teachers don’t use tiles. After showing teachers multiple examples about how powerful a learning tool they can be, they were still confused on how to teach with them. Finally, a frustrated teacher asked me to come and model them in her classroom, so I decided this was a perfect opportunity to film myself using them so other teachers could have the opportunity to see them being used. The lessons that I have available start at operations on Integers and continue using tiles to introduce variables, combine like terms, solving equations, multiplying binomials, and factoring. Each lesson comes with a video of me teaching the content to students as well as all the written materials that are contained in the video in word and pdf format.

Algebra tile class sets can be very expensive, so I have included a master copy of tiles that can be copied on card stock and colored by students and cut out. If you punch a hole in a Ziploc bag, students can have a set in their binders to use at home as well as at school.

The following is a overview of each lesson:

Algebra Tiles Lesson 1: Integers (free)

  • Introduction to tiles
    • Note-maker (graphic organizer) and Essential Question handout/poster included
  • Exploration of the additive inverse
  • Adding/subtracting integers
    • Practice Hand-out included
  • Multiplication/Division of integers

If you find the Integers lesson valuable, the remaining lessons are available to purchase for $15 by clicking here.

Lesson 2: Introduction to Algebra and Combining Like Terms

  • Review of integers with the tiles. (Tiered Warm-up)
  • Introduction to all of the tiles & what they represent
  • Introduction to Combining Like Terms (note-maker included)
    • Discussion of Coefficient
    • Modeling Expressions with tiles
    • Introduction to adding expressions with tiles

Lesson 3: Combining Like Terms (cont’d)

  • Review of tile representation
  • Combining like terms with addition with and without tiles
  • Combining like terms with subtraction with and without tiles

Lesson 4: Solving One-Step Equations

  • Introduction to algebraic equations
    • Graphic Organizer/note-maker included
  • Reverse order of operations discussion and demonstration
  • Solve one-step equations with addition and subtraction
    • Balancing graphic included
  • Solve one-step equations with multiplication and division

Lesson 5: Solving Multi-Step Equations including x on both sides

  • Introduce solving multi-step equations
    • Essential understanding graphic organizer included
  • Solve equations that require combining like terms
  • Solve equations with x on both sides
    • Tiered worksheet for practice included

Lesson 6: Introduction to Distributive property, multiplication, & square roots

  • Multiplication with Algebra Tiles (and area models)
  • Multiplying basic monomials
  • Simplifying using the distributive property (multiplication and division)
  • Solving equations using the distributive property
  • Square roots of perfect and non-perfect squares using Algebra Tiles

Lesson 7: Multiplying Polynomials

  • Multiplying binomials using Algebra Tiles
  • Multiplying using Lattice Method (including trinomials and larger expressions)
  • Number pattern warm-ups to become factoring ready

Lesson 8: Factoring Polynomials

  • Number pattern warm-up
  • Factoring with Algebra Tiles (note-maker and essential questions included)
  • Greatest common factor with Algebra Tiles
  • Greatest common factor using Lattice Method
  • Factoring trinomials using Lattice

Book Cover

Help Wanted on
Mont Vernon
This book combines history
and mathematics with
adorable characters to teach
kids about the many talents
of the first U.S. President.

Book Cover

The UnderAchievers:
Woven into a fun story, this
book provides excellent
math lessons for kids.  

Writing Across the Curriculum:
The NumberFix Project


Book Cover

 Wacky We-Search Reports:
A popular book on writing
across the curriculum.