Secondary Maths – Topic Special: Forming and Manipulating Algebraic Expressions

Collection Author: Laura Rees-Hughes, - Maths Secondary Panel Member

Imagine a world with no computers, no stock markets, no cars or trains or traffic, no mobile phones and perhaps the most alarming, no Angry Birds. Well that’s what it would be like in a world without algebra. However, algebra is often not a highly anticipated topic; if anything it is feared and detested by many students. Here is a selection of the best TES resources on forming and manipulating expressions to help engage your students and ease their fears.

Top 10 Resources:

Performing number magic

  • This is a brilliant resource to call upon at the start of a topic on algebraic expressions, it involves students exploring a variety of number tricks which they can perform and then try to prove (or at least explain) using simple expressions.

Bingo – forming expressions

  • This is a fantastic adaptable bingo game. The questions require students to turn a written phrase e.g. ‘seven more than a’ into an expression and cross it off if they have it on their card. The questions can be altered very quickly to adapt it to the level of your class.

Collecting like terms find a friend

  • This is a must for kinaesthetic learners. Students are given a card and must find someone whose card matches theirs.

Algebraic magic squares

  • A super, well presented lesson on collecting like terms which centres on the idea of a magic square where all rows, columns and diagonals sum to the same total. Students, first must determine whether some squares are magic or not and are then challenged to make their own.

Simplifying algebraic expressions memory game

  • A super idea for a starter or plenary where students reveal two squares. If the expressions behind them are equal then the student claims those squares, if not, then the squares are covered again for the next turn. This tests their ability to simplify the expressions and also works on memory techniques.

Factorising and expanding double bracket boxset

  • This resource allows you to generate endless questions on factorising and expanding double brackets – just what your students will want! Great for use with mini whiteboards, this is a real time saver.

Simplifying single brackets catchphrase

  • This is a great little activity where students have to expand single brackets in order to reveal part of a picture beneath, as in the TV game show Catchphrase. This is ideal for testing prior knowledge at the start of a lesson or checking understanding at the end of a lesson.

Factorising / expanding brackets Tarsia

  • There are two versions of this Tarsia resource which allow students to select their level of difficulty. This could be used both for expanding brackets or for factorising.

Factorising treasure hunt

  • This activity is a great way to get students out of their seats; the treasure hunt is differentiated so that students can choose their own level of difficulty. The easier questions are on factorising linear and quadratic expressions, the harder questions are on factorising quadratics and simplifying algebraic fractions.

Algebra, sometimes true, always true, never true

  • In this activity, students must discuss and decide whether algebraic statements are always, sometimes or never true. This requires them to expand brackets and explore mathematically.


TES Secondary maths resource collections

TES Secondary maths teaching resources