Babies Walkers 2 2s to 3s 3s to 4s

Overview and benefit

Sorting is an important skill for preschool aged children to learn and practice. You may have noticed that your toddler or preschooler has a natural tendency to sort and they do. Sorting is a way to organize and make sense of their environment.  Activities like these provide concrete objects for your child to sort and organize concepts.

This grouping impulse is not only adorable, it’s also an important developmental milestone. Between 18 and 30 months, toddlers begin to understand that objects, people, and animals all have different properties.  This activity develops the sorting idea using their own shoes, or other familiar pairs such as socks or gloves.

Equipment required

  • Lots of pairs of gloves or socks (if not using their shoes)
  • A container


  • Two to three weeks   

Training Video

Matching Shoes 1-1 from MAD Academy on Vimeo.


How it works 

Children learn to identify their shoe and find it’s pair.

What to do in the class


Have all the children take off one of their shoes and put them into a bucket. The Instructor pours out all the shoes into the middle of the room and the children have to find their own shoe and put it back on.

Extension: take off both shoes. Put one shoe in the middle of the room and the other in a bucket. Have each parent take out a shoe from the bucket that is not their child’s and the child has to match the unfamiliar shoe.

Gloves or socks

Place one sock/glove from each pair into the container in the middle of the room. Scatter the rest around the edge of the room. You could add some odd socks and gloves around the edge as well to act as red herrings. Allow each child/parent to take a sock or glove from the middle container. Encourage the parent to discuss with the child any distinguishing features (e.g. what colour it is, any patterns on it etc). The child and parent then go and try to find its other pair.

Adaptation for older/younger children

No adaptation is necessary.  Older children can practise putting on their own shoes once they have found the matching pair.

Keep the socks/gloves quite similar to increase the difficultly level. Choose socks/gloves that are very different to make it easier.

What to do in a nursery setting

No adaptation is necessary.



As an alternative, get lots of different pairs of gloves from charity shops and pound shops. Perhaps mix them with any single ones you have left over at home! Give each child one glove and ask them to find the matching pair.