Planning GuideGrade 1
Download Print Version

Equality and Inequality

Strand: Patterns and Relations (Variables and Equations)
Outcomes: 4, 5

Step 1: Identify Outcomes to Address

Guiding Questions

  • What do I want my students to learn?
  • What can my students currently understand and do?
  • What do I want my students to understand and be able to do, based on the Big Ideas and specific outcomes in the program of studies?

See Sequence of Outcomes from the Program of Studies

Strand: Patterns and Relations (Variables and Equations)


Grade 1

Grade 2

Specific Outcomes


Specific Outcomes


Describe equality as a balance and inequality as an imbalance, concretely and pictorially (0 to 20).


Record equalities, using the equal symbol.


Specific Outcomes


Demonstrate and explain the meaning of equality and inequality, concretely and pictorially.


Record equalities and inequalities symbolically, using the equal symbol or the not equal symbol.

Big Ideas

When students begin the study of equality, it is important for them to see that the equal sign represents a relation, not an operation. It tells us that the quantity on the left is the same as the quantity on the right. Students should see that the expression which may include an operation really represents single quantities but are simply equivalent forms. For example, 10 + 8 and 7 + 11 are both equivalent representations for 18.

Using a balance scale, students begin to understand the concept of equating two quantities. Working with balance scale problems, students are building the foundation for further study in the area of algebra and solving equations.

In everyday life, we sort things by comparison relationships. For example, we might note that Ron is taller than Mary or that Monica takes more time than Valerie to complete her homework. Relationships also apply to number, as we might note that five is two less than seven or 12 is three more than nine. Students need to explore the concept of inequalities by recognizing and creating symbolic representations for "less than" and "greater than." They should recognize the relationship between these inequalities. Given two expressions, students should be able to identify if the quantities they represent are equal or not equal and how they can sort the quantities using inequalities.