How to Make Algebra Practice Problems Fun for Kids

AlgebraWhether you’ve got a child who needs a little extra time outside of class to understand difficult math concepts, or you’re a private tutor looking for ways to freshen up lessons, algebra practice problems with a fun twist can go a long way. And the good news is, you don’t need to pull your hair out thinking up ideas. Any normal situation can be turned into an algebra practice problem – all you have to do is get a little creative! Below are a few ideas to get you started… 


Using coins is a great way to add some fun to algebra practice problems. Since you can make an equation with multiple unknowns, you can make the problems as simple or as difficult as you’d like. If you have a loose change jar, you can make the algebra problem into a real-life situation as well.

An example of a coin-based algebra practice problem would be to ask how many quarters and pennies you would need to make 56 cents, if you had three times more pennies as quarters. The setup for this problem would be as follows:

25q + 1p = 56

1p = 3q

Then you can solve for the number of quarters by replacing the variable “p” in the first equation with “3q” from the second equation and solving. Of course, you can make it more difficult by changing the numbers up, as long as you have the solution in your head beforehand. Feel free to use the loose change to solve the equation if necessary.

Sports Problems

Any sporting event can be turned into a plethora of algebra practice problems! Although you won’t be able to use props (as was the case with coins), it’s easy to turn a sporting event into an algebra problem, sometimes without your child even catching on!

For instance, take a basketball game. You could propose a question about the number of two- and three-point shots the star player has taken given a few parameters. If the total points scored is 42, the player made four free throws, and for every three shots made beyond the three point arc, five shots were made that were worth two points.

4 + 2t + 3e = 42

3t = 5e

This particular problem will require a bit more involvement, as one of the variables will need to be solved for in the second equation, then input into the first equation to find the value. Then, by using the second equation again, both variables can be solved for.

Setting Up the Practice Problems

For any algebra practice problem, setting things up doesn’t need to be difficult. The number of variables you want to solve for will determine the number of equations you need to set up. Every variable requires a new equation, so for two variables, you’ll need to two equations, as in the above examples. For three variables, you will need three equations, that each has a different relationship between the variables. That is, you can’t set up one equation that shows 2x = 3y, an another equation that shows 6y = 4x, as this is the same relationship.

With coins and sports scores, the setup for equations is not too difficult. You’ll need to determine the total value of the coins or the total score, and then what the relationship is between the number of coins or the number of shots made for each of the scoring values. In this way, you have two equations set up to solve for two variables. If you want to add a third variable into the mix, just figure out a way to show a third relationship between the variables to give you a new equation.

If you’ve hired a private tutor to help your child out with algebra, you can ask him or her for ideas as well. Of course, make sure that the algebra practice problems that you’re coming up with are not too hard or too easy for the current concepts that the tutor is covering with your child. Have fun thinking up new and exciting ways to introduce algebra practice problems into the day to help your child learn!


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Photo by KatherineDavis

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