**Algebraic thinking - part 3 **

**Important Teaching Point**

Avoid the fruit-salad approach to explaining algebraic statements, for example, referring to 3a + 5b as ‘3 apples and 5 bananas’, or anything that reinforces the ideas that the letters stand for objects or specific numbers.

**Then, so many of us have been subjected to explanations in ‘algebra lessons’ that reinforce this misconception that the letters stand for things. For example, it does not help to explain 2a + 3a = 5a by saying ‘2 apples plus 3 apples makes 5 apples’. This again makes us think of a as an abbreviation for apples. What this statement means is: whatever number you choose for a, then ‘a multiplied by 2’ plus ‘a multiplied by 3’ is the same as ‘a multiplied by 5’.**