Once your child is very comfortable with expressing how these numbers relate to each other, introduce our more formal way of writing down these relationships. We call them “equations” and just as the scale had to balance, our equation has to balance. The operation called for on one side must result in the other number of the relationship appearing on the other side of the equation.
Since we are using facts that your child knows, there is no need to teach additional rules for equations just yet. Instead of using the scale, write a number relationship like this:
4 + 2 = q
Ask your child, if this were our scale, what would go on the side where the box is? (6)
Then write those same numbers in this way:
q =4 + 2
What goes in the box? (6) Does it matter that it is on the other side? (No; 4, 2 and 6 “go together” in addition.
Now, write it this way:
4 + q = 6
What goes in the box now? (2, again because in addition, 4, 2 and 6 “go together.”
Ask your child to write as many number facts, both addition and multiplication as he/she can remember, making up little “problems” for him/herself and filling in the box with the correct number.
If your child knows multiplication facts, the same practice can be initiated, but the operations symbol will be X instead of +.