It really doesn't seem to matter whether a student is in 7th grade or in 12th grade, integer operations are always tricky. When I taught 11th grade Algebra 2 in Boston, working with negative integers was a major sticking point when we'd be solving equations. Students would get all the way to the end of a difficult equation... and get the wrong answer. Why? Adding and subtracting integers from both sides. Here is a video explanation for how the manipulative works. Please excuse the cartoons in the background. Bonus points if you know what cartoon my daughter is watching:)

If you find that your students are struggling with integer operations, this manipulative is available for download here. I like to laminate it so that students can use dry erase markers. This helps some students keep an accurate count of the spaces between numbers.

For a fun integer operations activity, you may like this integers pennant. Students evaluate three problems on each pennant. The three problems are related to keep the focus on those pesky signs.

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