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Matching, sorting & pairing activities for young children

Some simple matching, sorting and pairing activities for young children.  

 

Sorting

This sock box activity uses a selection of pairs of socks.  Here are some suggestions…
Different sizes:

• baby socks

• toddler sized socks

• junior socks

Different lengths:

• trainer socks

• knee high socks

• ankle socks

Different materials:

• fluffy/towelling socks

• smooth socks

Different designs:

• coloured toes

• coloured heels

• stripes

• patterns

• pictures

• dots, etc.

 

Sorting activity 1
Put some pairs of socks on the floor (mixed).  Ask the children to sort the socks into pairs.  

 

As the children sort the socks into pairs, ask them questions:
• What do you know about this sock?

• What are you looking for?• How many socks do you have?

• How many pairs of socks do you have?

• How do you know when you have a pair of socks?

• How many socks are there in 1 pair?

• How many socks are there in 2 pairs?

• How many socks are there in 3 pairs?

• If I have 4 pairs of socks, how many socks do I have altogether?

• How did you work your answer out?

• If I have 5 socks, how many pairs do I have?

• How did you work your answer out?
Encourage the children to use mathematical vocabulary: number names, sort, order, pattern, colour, shape, large, long, short, small, etc.

 

Sorting activity 2


Put some socks (one of each pair) on the floor or table.  Provide 2 setting rings.  Ask the children to sort the socks and tell you how they sorted them.  Repeat the activity asking for a different way to sort the socks.

 

Sorting into pairs


Using identical socks make rows of socks, starting with 1 sock on row 1 and 2 socks on row 2 and so on. 
Establish how many pairs there are in each row and whether the number is odd or even.
Ask the children if they can see a pattern?
Make a display of pairs, this can include classroom resources, natural objects or pictures.

 

Here are some suggestions…..

• socks

• gloves

• mittens

• laces

• arms

• legs

• eyes

• ears

• wings

• chop sticks

• Wellington boots

 

Pose everyday problems…..
Auntie Kate asks Natasha and Richard to bring down some of their dirty socks for the washing basket.
1. Richard brings down 6 blue socks and Natasha brings down 4 yellow socks.  How many matching pairs are there?
2. Richard brings down 7 blue socks and Natasha brings down 6 yellow socks.  How many matching pairs are there?
3. Richard brings down 7 blue socks and Natasha brings down 5 yellow socks.  How many matching pairs are there?

 

This question is checking whether the children understand the concept of pair.  It builds on practical experiences of sorting, classifying and pairing objects. The children may solve the problem by drawing numbers of socks and placing circles round 2 socks to identify pairs.  Others may use colours or numerals.


In real life problems there are usually other factors that come into play.  In the Q3 it says that there are 7 blue and 5 yellow socks.  If the child pairs them, into 2s the answer will be 6 pairs.  This is incorrect, as the question asks for matching pairs.  In real life we would pair matching socks.  The answer is 3 pairs of blue socks with one odd blue sock left over and 2 pairs of yellow socks with one odd yellow sock left over.

 

Liz Gibbs is a freelance national and international teaching and learning consultant for mathematics and ICT.  This autumn Liz is currently running courses in Suffolk, London and Hong Kong.  You can find out more by visiting her website. www.thebusylizzie.co.uk

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