Activities to Teach Students to Identify Linear and Nonlinear Functions: Graphs and Equations

Linear and nonlinear functions are fundamental concepts in mathematics, and it is crucial for students to understand the differences between them. Identifying linear and nonlinear functions can be done through graphs and equations. By involving students in various activities, teachers can make learning more engaging and enjoyable for students.

In this article, we will discuss some activities that educators can use to help students identify linear and nonlinear functions through graphs and equations.

Activity 1: Graphing Linear and Nonlinear Functions

The first activity involves graphing linear and nonlinear functions. For linear functions, the graph is a straight line, whereas nonlinear functions show a curve or multiple curves. To begin, the teacher can provide students with a sheet of graph paper, and they can draw different graphs of both linear and nonlinear functions.

Once students are familiar with graphing linear and nonlinear functions, teachers can introduce more complex functions that require more in-depth analysis. At this point, teachers can encourage students to identify the slopes and y-intercepts of each graph to help them differentiate between linear and nonlinear functions. By comparing and contrasting these different types of functions, students can develop a better understanding of the different types of mathematical functions.

Activity 2: Identifying Linear and Nonlinear Functions in Equations

Another approach to identifying linear and nonlinear functions is by analyzing equations. A linear function has the form y = mx + b, where m is the slope, and b is the y-intercept. Nonlinear functions may have a similar format, but their behavior is designed to show the curvature.

To begin this activity, teachers can provide students with a worksheet containing a set of equations. Students then have to identify if the equation represents a linear or nonlinear function. As they work through the worksheet, the teacher can encourage them to explain why they believe the equation is linear or nonlinear.

Activity 3: Real-life Examples of Linear and Nonlinear Functions

In the third activity, teachers can provide students with real-life examples where linear and nonlinear functions can be seen. This activity helps students understand the practical implications of functions in everyday life, such as determining distances, speeds, or growth. Students can brainstorm different scenarios to determine whether the function is linear or nonlinear.

For linear functions, teachers can provide examples of situations that exhibit constant change, such as a person traveling at a steady rate or a business experiencing a steady increase in sales. For nonlinear functions, examples could be provided for situations that accelerate or decelerate such as accelerating or slowing business activity or a roller coaster.


In conclusion, identifying linear and nonlinear functions is an essential skill that students must learn. Through engaging and stimulating activities, teachers can help students grasp these concepts more easily. By using charts and equations, teachers can ensure that the students master the differentiating factors between these two types of functions. Real-life examples help reinforce important core concepts.

By using these activities, teachers can make learning interactive and fun for students, and they can instill in them the necessary knowledge of linear and nonlinear functions that they will need later in their academic careers.

Choose your Reaction!