Last year I had to teach all my classes to solve one-step algebraic equations. The previous teacher just let the kids solve them however they could and didn’t make them show any work OR help them understand the concepts of ISOLATING variables and using INVERSE operations.
One thing I did while reviewing with my 7th graders this year was make “equation puzzles”. I printed ALL of the symbols and numbers needed to show all work for a one step equation. Students worked in groups to set up the equation and solution. This was especially good for my kinesthetic learners. The students glued down their equations and then copied it onto the worksheet with the same problem. You could also print them on cardstock, laminate and use it as a center activity.
It took a period to do all of the equations, but the students really did enjoy it! Click on the picture below for 5 different puzzles and the corresponding worksheet.