Skip to Content

Literal Equations Activities

Turn solving literal equations from a dreaded task to a fun activity with these 10 free activities involving rearranging literal equations for a given variable.

What are Literal Equations?

The phrase “literal equations” refers to equations which involve multiple variables. When we talk about solving literal equations, we are referring to solving the equation for one variable in terms of the other variables.

Literal equations are used in a variety of scientific and mathematical contexts.

Example of Solving Equations

2x + 3 = 5

Solve for x.

Example of Solving Literal Equations

2x + 3y = z

Solve for y.

Literal Equations in Other Countries

The phrase “solving literal equations” is very common in the United States, but the phrase is rarely found in countries outside the US.

In the UK, these types of problems are generally referred to as “Rearranging Formulae.” My husband is from Australia, and he often refers to these types of problems as “Changing the subject.”

Activities for Introducing Literal Equations

Try these activities for introducing students to the concept of working with literal equations.

Introducing Literal Equations with Number Tricks

magician hat in front of number background.

Julie Reulbach shares a clever introduction to literal equations by having students understand the mathematics behind various number tricks.

Visual Approach to Rearranging Formulas

Mathspad Rearranging Formulas Lesson for Introducing Literal Equations.

Mathspad (a UK resource sharing site) shares a free worksheet which features a visual approach to rearranging formulas.

This would make a great introduction to solving literal equations.

Methods of Solving Literal Equations

I hope to build out this section in the near future. If your students are struggling with manipulating literal equations, I suggest illustrating the process of solving a literal equation with this flowchart method.

Flow Chart Method for Solving Literal Equations

solving literal equations with flowcharts method.

Are your students struggling to understand how to solve literal equations for a specific variable? Consider teaching this alternative method to solving literal equations which involves drawing a flowchart.

The flowchart method really emphasizes the importance of using inverse operations when solving the equations for the specified variable. 

The literal equations graphic organizers are available to download as a pdf file.

Literal Equations Practice Activities

Just need some good old practice problems for solving literal equations for the specified variable? Here are a bunch of fun practice activities that will get your students working way more problems than your traditional literal equations worksheet without even realizing it! 

Literal Equations Connect 4 Activity

connect 4 board game with text "literal equations connect 4" 

My students did NOT want to stop playing this free literal equations connect 4 activity that I downloaded for free from Math by the Mountain on Teachers Pay Teachers.

This game takes about 25 minutes to play, and your students will get lots of practice solving literal equations. I like this activity because it has the entire class working on the same examples at the same time. This gives ample opportunities for reteaching moments as misconceptions arise. 

Literal Equations Drag and Drop Activity on Google Slides

literal equations google slides drag and drop activity from Katrina Newell.

Looking for a digital activity to practice solving literal equations? I recommend checking out this free Google Slides Activity for practicing literal equations from Katrina Newell.

Literal Equations Scavenger Hunt Activity

literal equations scavenger hunt activity

Get students up and moving around the room while solving literal equations with this fun scavenger hunt activity.

I hope to recreate this activity in the future as a free download. 

Scavenger hunts are a fun way to incorporate self-checking practice in the math classroom. 

Solving Literal Equations Breakout Box Activity

breakout activity for solving literal equations.

Do you have the materials to create a breakout box? S²TEM Centers SC is offering a free lesson for creating a solving literal equations breakout box activity.

Solving Literal Equations Maze Activity

solving literal equations maze activity.

Algebra 1 Coach offers a free printable literal equations maze activity for your students to work through.

Equation Rearrangement Multiple Choice Questions

don steward literal equations quiz question.

Don Steward shared this set of literal equations quiz questions back in 2016. These questions focus on figuring out which rearrangements are correct and which are incorrect.