Hello, my name is Stephanie. I am a student teacher this semester in the third grade. I was looking at our math competencies and saw that we needed to teach the identity property. Is this the same as the distributive property? If not, what is it?

Thanks a lot!

Elementary level question
Student teacher

Hi Stephanie,

The crucial property of an identity for some operation is that if you have a number, and operate on it by an identity, then the result is the number you started with.

If the operation is addition then the identity is the number 0 because for any number a,

a + 0 = a. If the operation is multiplication then the identity is the number 1 because for each number a, a 1 = a

Another example is clock addition. Think of a clock face with one hand pointing at 4. To add 5 in clock addition you move the hand ahead 5 hours and see that the hand is pointing at 9. Thus

4 + 5 = 9 If you now want to add 6 you move the hand ahead 6 hours and see that it is pointing at 3. Thus 9 + 6 = 3 Under this operation 12 is an identity since, if you move the hand ahead 12 hours you end up exactly where you started.

I hope this helps,

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