Skip to Content

Distributive Property Foldable

Quick post today to share a foldable I made to review the distributive property with my Algebra 1 students. This is one of those topics that my students have seen since they were in the seventh grade, but they still make mistakes.

Here are the two most common mistakes I see:

3(5x – 2) = 15x – 2

5 – (4x + 2) = 20x + 10  

I wrote these notes with these two mistakes in mind. 

outside of distributive property foldable

On the inside, I gave students a table to fill out that walks them step-by-step through the distribution process.

My favorite column is the second one: What should be distributed? Before beginning the multiplication process, I want my students to think critically about what number is actually being distributed. I place a big emphasis on drawing in our invisible 1’s!

inside of distributive property foldable

For combining like terms, I teach my students to place the like terms in groups. Eventually, they wean themselves off this method, but I find it helps my students way more than the more traditional way of color-coding or shape-coding the like terms.

close-up of inside of distributive property foldable

Older Version of Distributive Property Foldable

older version of distributive property foldable
older version of distributive property foldable

Before we started any distributing, I had my students specify exactly what number they would be distributing.  I gave them lots of problems like 3 – (4x + 2) to emphasize that they would actually be distributing a -1, not a 3 like students often assume.

In the next column, we carried out our distributing.

older version of distributive property foldable

Then, in my favorite column, we took all of our terms and put them in groups like we had with our cut-out term pieces the day before.  And, in the final column, we wrote our simplified answers.

older version of distributive property foldable

John Ceneviva

Monday 25th of October 2021

Thanks for the foldable distributive property. I really appreciate it.

Comments are closed.