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! Stephanie 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, Penny Go to Math Central To return to the previous page use your browser's back button.