Mystery Math: A First Book of Algebra

David A. Adler

This Halloween-themed book helps to teach the concept of a missing mystery number, or variable, and how to solve these algebraic problems. The book starts out simple, giving a foundational understanding of equations and what the equals sign means, as well as defining variables, while supporting all of this through the pictures. But once the book reaches the point of using each operation to solve instead of a picture to solve, this can be confusing for anyone new to algebra concepts. This is because, at this point in the book, it becomes more rules-based rather than based on conceptual understanding. For example, the book states that what you do to one side of the equation, you must do to the other side, so if you divide by 4 on one side, you must divide by 4 on the other side. This all makes sense to someone who has spent some time with “balancing” equations in class or at home, but to a child that has not yet encountered this idea, this could be overwhelming. I highly recommend using some kind of manipulatives, like Hands-On Equations or something similar, to help your child visualize what is going on and why these algebra rules work.

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