Do typical arithmetic problems hinder learning of mathematical equivalence? Second and third graders (7–9 years old; N= 80) received lessons on mathematical equivalence either with or without typical arithmetic problems (e.g., 15 + 13 = 28 vs. 28 = 28, respectively). Children then solved math equivalence problems (e.g., 3 + 9 + 5 = 6 + __), switched lesson conditions, and solved math equivalence problems again. Correct solutions were less common following instruction with typical arithmetic problems. In a supplemental experiment, fifth graders (10–11 years old; N= 19) gave fewer correct solutions after a brief intervention on mathematical equivalence that included typical arithmetic problems. Results suggest that learning is hindered when lessons activate inappropriate existing knowledge.