## Algebra At The Age Of Four

**Key points**:

- The article discusses how algebraic equations can be shown as visual sentences. The example of
*x*+*y*=4, where*x*>*y*is used. The Reception aged children are given two rules to colour them in: “they have to colour in four snails, and the number of brown-coloured snails must be more than the number of yellow-coloured ones.” - The author states how remarkable it is that the children of this age can complete this algebraic idea and that staff argue it should make it easier for the children to manipulate equations later in life.
- The approach to teaching also requires children to discuss their ideas in groups, challenging each other’s answers, explaining their reasoning and arguing with the teacher who deliberately makes mistakes to generate such discussion.
- It seems that both children and teachers are capable of exceeding perceived expectations through innovative thinking. Clearly, this is just one example and it’s hard to draw conclusions but it would be interesting to see where those children ofÂ 2006 are now in Year 5.

**Main Reference**:

- Mansell, W. (2006)
*Algebra at the age of four.*TES. [Online] [Accessed on 17th May 2011] http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2264060

**Original Article**:

- TES Online: Algebra at the age of four (Published in The TES on 21 July, 2006. Accessed on Tuesday, 17th May 2011)