Balance Addition Equations


With this lesson plan, students will learn how to find missing addends in addition equations. This is a vital skill for students to master, as it will help them immensely in their future math endeavors.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to have students use counters to model problems on ten frames or color in ten frames to visualize how to balance the equations.

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What our Balance Addition Equations lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Balance Addition Equations teaches students how to find missing addends in addition equations. It begins with a brief introduction on what balance is and why it is important in math equations. Next, students will be given several examples of how to find missing addends in addition equations. Finally, students will have the opportunity to practice what they have learned with some interactive activities. This lesson is for students in 1st grade and 2nd grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the blue box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you will need for this lesson are scissors and glue. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can gather the supplies and copy the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. An optional addition to this lesson is to have students use counters to model problems on ten frames or color in ten frames to visualize how to balance the equations. You can also demonstrate balance using a scale, if available. Finally, you can make the lesson more difficult by using multiple numbers on a single side or by using three and four-digit numbers.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Balance Addition Equations

The Balance Addition Equations lesson plan includes two content pages. The lesson begins by explaining that balancing is evenly distributing something to two sides. Some examples of balancing include riding bikes, walking tightropes, and stacking objects on top of each other.  In math, balancing means that each side of an equal sign is the same value. The value on the left side of the equal sign has to be the same as the value on the right side. There are two steps to balance addition equations. The first step is to add the numbers on the side of the equal sign with no missing values. The lesson includes an example: 4 + 7 = ? + 6. In this equation, the first step is to add 4 + 7, since there are no missing values on that side. The second step is to find a number that makes the addition sentence true. The new addition sentence in this example is 11 = ? + 6. For this equation, the missing number is 5, since 5 + 6 = 11. You can find that missing value using mental math, or by using subtraction. To find the missing value using subtraction, you would subtract 11 – 6 to get 5.

The lesson closes with another example that has three numbers on one side of the equation. The method and steps are the same as the first example problem. It’s important to learn how to balance equations, as this is a fundamental skill for algebra.


The Balance Addition Equations lesson plan includes four worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, a homework assignment, and a quiz. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


For the activity, students will cut out equations and paste them into the correct box: true or false.


The practice worksheet asks students to use the circles below each equation to help them find the missing addend. They will write the sum of each side of the equation in the circle, and will write the missing addend in the square.


For the homework assignment, students will complete a few short exercises. First, they will show each side of each equation is balanced by coloring in the correct number of squares. Next, they will look at equations and determine whether they’re true or false. Finally, they will find the missing addend in each equation.


This lesson includes a quiz that you can use to test your students’ knowledge and understanding of the lesson material. For the quiz, they will find the missing values in two equations and show that both sides are equal.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the activity worksheet, the practice worksheet, the homework assignment, and the quiz. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


1st Grade, 2nd Grade



State Educational Standards

LB.Math.Content.1.OA.A.1, LB.Math.Content.2.OA.A.1

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.