Combining Like Terms


With our Combining Like Terms lesson plan, students learn how to combine like terms in algebraic expressions. Students complete practice problems in which they simplify terms by combining using the methods taught in this lesson.

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 your students use manipulatives to show the coefficients of each term so that they can group them.

Buy Now For $1.95


What our Combining Like Terms lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Combining Like Terms introduces students to the process of combining like terms, along with how and when we use it. Combining Like Terms is a process used to simplify an expression or an equation using addition and subtraction of the coefficients of the terms as well as constants. At the end of this lesson, students will understand the concept of combining like terms in algebraic expressions. This lesson is for students in 5th grade and 6th 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. 

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. One optional addition to this lesson is to have your students use manipulatives to show the coefficients of each term so that they can group them. You could also have your students practice using various exponents such as cubed, fourth powers, and fifth powers to fully grasp the concept of same variable/same exponent. Another option is to have students practice in groups by giving each an index card with a term and allow them to simply the final expression as a class, repeating this several times to help students understand combining like terms from a kinesthetic perspective.

Teacher Notes

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


Combining Like Terms

The Combining Like Terms lesson plan includes two content pages. We use the process of Combining Like Terms (CLT) to simplify expression or equations using addition and subtracting of the coefficients of the terms and constants. We separate terms using + (plus) and – (minus) signs.

For example, we can look at the following expression: 3a + 6b – 2c2 + 5 There are 4 terms in this expression: 3a, 6b, -2c2 , and 5. Like terms have both the same variable and the same exponent. 3x, 17x, 1/3x, and -x are like terms. All of them have the same variable (x) and the same exponent (1). The lesson includes some additional examples of like terms.

We have a few different strategies for combining like terms. The first is the house method. With this method, each house has a different “family.” Some houses have constants, some have x’s, some have y’s, and some have x².

An easy way to start using this method is to draw a box around each term and then draw your houses, labeling the family name on each roof. In the example expression -8 + 5x + 7y – 3x + 2y + 4, we need three houses: constants, x’s, and y’s. Next, we place the coefficient of each term in the correct house. Finally, we add up each house to find the final answer. In this case, if we combine all like terms, the final answer is 2x + 9y – 4. You should always write your final answer with the variables in alphabetical order and with the constants last.

Another method for combining like terms is to highlight each term in a different color based on their variables and exponents. The lesson includes an example to illustrate this. Once you highlight each term, you can add up each color to find the final answer.


The Combining Like Terms 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.


The activity worksheet asks students to cut out the terms on the worksheet and group like terms together. They will then paste the like terms on a separate sheet of paper.


For the practice worksheet, students will simplify ten expressions, drawing their own houses for help if they need it.


The homework assignment asks students to combine like terms in a creative way. They will apply the concept of CLT to create an Algebra Name for themself. To do this, they will construct their initials or first and last name using the rectangles on the worksheet, primarily using the x, y, and 1 pieces.

Once they’ve sketched their name, they’ll write the math sentence representing the pieces on the page, combining like terms to create their Algebra Name.


This lesson also includes a quiz that you can use to test students’ understanding of the lesson material. For the quiz, students will simplify ten expressions.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and a 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


3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade



State Educational Standards


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.

Customer Reviews
5.0 Based on 1 Reviews
5 ★
4 ★
3 ★
2 ★
1 ★
Write a Review

Thank you for submitting a review!

Your input is very much appreciated. Share it with your friends so they can enjoy it too!

Filter Reviews:
Ben R.

Great activity

These papers all put together are great and really helped out the students that are currently working learning like terms in my math 7 class.