Understanding algebra at year 7

Last updated: 15/11/2023
Contributor: David Benjamin 🐝
Understanding Algebra teaching pack
Main Subject
Key stage
Resource type
Teaching pack

Understanding algebra at year 7 will help your students develop their understanding of algebraic vocabulary and notation and improve their reasoning skills.

Featuring a range of mix-and-match starters, main activities, and plenaries alongside research and discussion tasks, home learning opportunities and an assessment, this pack is the perfect way to introduce algebra at KS3.

What's included?

  • starters, main activities, plenaries, group and independent learning tasks
  • suggestions to support and challenge
  • end-of-unit assessment
  • answers included.

What's inside?

Introduction (pages 3-4)

Section one: Short tasks

Teaching notes (pages 5-7)

Activities (pages 8-12)

  • Using symbols
  • Writing formulae
  • Collecting like terms
  • Brackets
  • Factors

Answers (pages 11-12)

Section two: Developing concepts

Teaching notes (pages 13-16)

Activities (pages 17-21)

  • Substitution
  • Creating formulae
  • Collecting like terms
  • Expanding brackets
  • Factorising

Answers (pages 22-24)

Section three: Developing fluency

Teaching notes (pages 25-30)

Activities (pages 31-41)

  • Bubble substitutions
  • Coding
  • Walls of expressions
  • Magic squares
  • Error no error
  • Class activities
  • Dominoes challenge
  • Brackets challenges

Answers (pages 42-52)

Section four: Homework tasks

Teaching notes (pages 53-54)

Activities (pages 56-58)

  • Algebra key words homework
  • Substitution homework
  • Formulae research homework
  • Using formulae homework
  • Factors homework

Answers (pages 59-60)

Section five: Assessment

Assessment (pages 61-62)

Mark scheme (page 63)

The aims of this pack are to utilise year 7 students’ knowledge from primary school to build solid foundations for their understanding of algebra throughout KS3 and 4.

These are not whole lessons, instead 23 mix-and-match activity worksheets with a summative assessment at the end, giving teachers the flexibility they need to tailor this content to their students and teaching style. They are split into the following sections:


One: Short tasks. These can be used as starters, plenaries or stand-alone tasks.

Two: Developing concepts. Activities intended to be completed with the class, led by the teacher in order to advance students’ learning.

Three: Developing fluency. These activities comprise opportunities to practice concepts met in section two and some are there to challenge the most confident learners.

Four: Homework tasks. These can also be used as independent tasks within lessons.

Five: Assessment. A summative assessment covering all content.

Each section is further split into: teaching notes, activites and answers sections.


The learning objectives for this pack are taken from the national curriculum for KS3. In the teaching notes, objectives for each activity are stated.

Students should be able to:

1. Use algebra with correct notation, such as not write multiplication signs, use indices, understand division as a fraction and use brackets. 

2. Use the correct order of operations in number and algebra.

3. Understand the difference between expressions, equations, terms, factors and coefficients.

4. Simplify expressions by collecting like terms.

5. Multiply out a single bracket and simplify.

6. Factorise into a single bracket by taking out a common factor.

7. Evaluate expressions and use standard formulae (substitution).

8. Model situations by converting them into algebraic expressions and formulae.




Understanding algebra at year 7
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All reviews

Have you used this resource?

Thank you so much for sharing such a fabulous resources.

Tatiana Shrimpton


Wonderful resource! Thank you very much.

Arnold Mtopo






Thank you so much for sharing such a fabulous resources.

Tatiana Shrimpton


Wonderful resource! Thank you very much.

Arnold Mtopo








This resource if wonderful, thank you!

Linda Beal


that is very useful, many thanks

Emrah Ozkan




Thank you for your comment. As you know, all our resources, including the teaching packs, are written by teachers for teachers. We know that no two maths teachers will have the same view on how to teach key topics such as algebra, and we respect the approach our writer has used in his work on this pack. One advantage of the mix-and-match format is that it allows teachers to choose the sections that they feel will work best for their students and their teaching. That said, we would also love to see other ways of approaching this topic at its early stage and would be keen to see any ideas that you have.

Camilla Clarkson


Whilst there are some nice ideas in here the whole section on using fruit to collect like terms and the nonsense of strawberries divided by apples is NOT going to help students 'understand' algebra but instead lead to developing more misconceptions at a later date. I would suggest that those elements need a rethink before inexperienced teachers buy this and actually think that it is a good way to introduce those key concepts.

Nicola Trubridge