Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Equations with Variables Lesson Plan.

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Equations with Variables, and supports the standard of writing and evaluating expressions in which letters stand for numbers. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.


Display equations with and without a variable, such as these:

4 + 12 = 16

4 + x = 16

Ask students: 

  • What do you notice about the numbers on either side of the equal sign?
  • What number does the “x” represent in the second equation?


  • Read aloud the description on the Equations with Variables topic page
  • Play the Movie, activating the Pause Points to check for understanding. 
  • Have students read one of the following Related Reading articles: “Language” or “Real Life.” Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY and ASSESS 

Students take the Equations with Variables Challenge and Quiz, applying essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.


Students express what they learned about equations with variables while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.  

  • Make-a-Movie: Create a tutorial that answers this question: How can variables help you solve word problems?
  • Make-a-Map: Make a concept map identifying the steps to isolate and solve for the variable in this equation: 5y-13=12
  • Creative Coding: Code a math problem involving an equation with a variable and challenge a classmate to solve it.  

More to Explore

Math Snacks: Curse Reverse: Students apply knowledge of variables to find ancient treasures in this learning game.

Algebra Unit: Continue to build understanding around expressions and equations with more BrainPOP topics.

Teacher Support Resources: