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Snowball Fight – Solving Equations Activity

Today, in Algebra 1, we had a snowball fight.  My students had never done anything like this.  Well, for that matter, I hadn’t either.  This idea originated from Kate’s blog as a first day of school getting to know you activity.  Well, we’ve been in school almost a month, and I teach at a very small school, so I didn’t really need a getting to know you activity.  But, I did need a way to change up our review of solving equations.  We’ve been working on solving equations for a week now, and today was quiz day.

solving equations snowball fight activity

Before the quiz, I wanted to find a way to discuss common errors to avoid in solving equations without any students thinking that I was picking on them.  Introduce the snow balls. 

Funny story.  When I told my 7th period that we would be having a snowball fight today, one student informed me that she didn’t think that would work because it was still summer…

solving equations activity algebra math snowball fight

Give each student a sheet of scrap paper.  I keep a box of paper that is clean on one side in my classroom for random activities like this.  Yes, each student will have to investigate what is on the back of their sheet of paper.  Comparisons will take place.  Some students will try to increase their social standing among their peers based on the fact that the back of their page is cooler than that of the other students.

Project 10 equations on the Smart Board.  Tell each student to pick an equation and write it on their sheet of paper.  Repeatedly remind them that they are only writing the equation, not solving it.  Expect to have at least one student solve the equation even though you asked them not to.

Next, ask each student to crumple their paper into a ball.  Prepare yourself for looks of disbelief.  Some students will literally not want to do this step.  They will try to daintily fold their paper.  Reassure them that it is okay to crumple the paper.

Set the Smart Board timer for 10-15 seconds.  Allow the students to have a snowball fight.

When the timer goes off, the snowball fight must end.  Each student picks up a snowball and opens it.

Tell the students that their job is to solve the equation.  However, some students should make a mistake on purpose while solving the equation.  Don’t tell anybody you’re going to make a mistake.  Just do it.

After students have correctly or incorrectly solved their equations, have the students crumple their paper again.

10 second snowball fight.

Each student finds a snowball.  If they open it and find the equation they just solved, they must trade papers with another student.  Now, each student’s job is to look at the work and grade it.  Is it correct?  Or is there a mistake?  If there is a mistake, the student must correct it.

After the grading has been completed, ask students who found a mistake to share the equation (still projected on the board) and what mistake they found.  This is a great conversation starter for discussing common mistakes without making students feel like they have been singled out.

The students had a blast.  One student asked if we were ever going to do this again.  It provided a nice change of pace between our practice problems on the white boards and our quiz.  Most importantly, learning took place.  Students were engaged.  And, we got to have some fun, too.

solving equations activity algebra math snowball fight
solving equations activity algebra math snowball fight

Most students worked the equation out on their own to see if the other student had solved it correctly. 

solving equations activity algebra math snowball fight

Some students were a little harsh in their grading.

solving equations activity algebra math snowball fight

Watch your positive and negative signs!

solving equations activity algebra math snowball fight

I also found this random note on one of the snowballs…

solving equations activity algebra math snowball fight

I love this! 

solving equations activity algebra math snowball fight

More Resources for Teaching Solving Equations


Wednesday 27th of May 2020

My family actually played this snowball game at a family outing writing down a fact about yourself that nobody knew. Same process was followed. I can definitely see using this in my class.

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 2nd of June 2020

Very cool!


Saturday 27th of January 2018

I am actually a student that has to teach the class about distance formula and I am going to use this thank you for the great idea


Friday 16th of January 2015

This is hilarious! I am going to have so much fun with this!!!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Wednesday 28th of January 2015


Sarah P

Thursday 12th of December 2013

I have used this type of activity for vocabulary review (one person writes a vocab word and one person writes a definition) or matching graphs to equations. I love the idea of them solving the problem then grading someone's mistake to have a discussion without peer scrutiny. I am going to use this for a quick fun review of solving equations before we get into solving systems of equations with substitution. Thanks! Love all your creative ideas on your blog!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Saturday 11th of January 2014

You're very welcome! And, I love the other ideas you shared for using this activity! I'm going to have to try some of these out later this semester.


Thursday 29th of November 2012

I love this idea! Thank you for sharing all your ideas! Your blog is awesome! I just stumbled upon it last night when I was searching for "Algebra 1 Snowball fight". I'm looking forward to following it. I teach Algebra 1 and Geometry in Texas.

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