Classroom Activity

Shoe Sorting


This large or small group activity encourages students to observe carefully, analyze, and make comparisons and predictions based on data they gather. Students will sort shoes by different attributes, such as how they fasten, color, size, and type of shoe (i.e., sneaker, boot, sandal, etc). They will then record their findings on a chart made from a shower curtain and count the shoes in each attribute category. Students will also collaborate with their peers to answer questions about their findings.

From the Virtual Pre-K: Ready For Math toolkit

Related Home Activities

Home Collections

Sorting at Home



  • 6.A.ECa: Count with understanding and recognize “how many” in sets of objects.
  • 8.A.EC Sort and classify objects by a variety of properties.
  • 10.A.ECa: Represent data using concrete objects, pictures, and graphs.


  • LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT: Listening and Understanding; Speaking and Communicating
  • LITERACY: Book Knowledge and Appreciation
  • MATH: Number Concepts and Quantities, Number Relationships and Operations, Measurement and Comparison
  • SCIENCE: Scientific Skills and Method

Lesson Objectives

  • Sort data that is collected
  • Analyze the data
  • Compare and contrast the data
  • Display their findings

Literature Suggestions

  • Beautiful Stuff!
    by Topal & Gandini
  • Shoes, Shoes, Shoes
    by Ann Morris
  • Whose Shoes?
    by Stephen Swinburne


  • Plastic shower curtain
  • Masking tape
  • Chart paper or white board
  • Markers (Dry Erase if using a white board)
  • Sticky notes

Lesson Description

  1. Begin by reading one of the book suggestions listed above, such as Shoes, Shoes, Shoes by Ann Morris. This book discusses the various types of shoes that are worn by people around the world. Make sure you read the book at least once on a day before the lesson to get children thinking about the different kinds of shoes that people wear.
  2. Explain to the children that they will be sorting everyone’s shoes by different characteristics (attributes) such as color, type of shoe, and how they fasten (e.g., laces or Velcro).
  3. Place the shower curtain on the floor, and show the children that it is sectioned off into a chart. Explain that they will be using it to display the different categories of shoes. Explain to the children how many different sorting categories you are looking for. NOTE: The children should have some experience with sorting before doing this activity. The first time you do this activity, or depending on the students’ comfort-level, start with just 2 familiar sorting categories, such as color and size, and build from there.
  4. Have each child take off one shoe and place it in the middle of the floor. Invite the children to share what they notice about the shoes. What colors do you see? Which shoes have laces? Which shoes would you wear in the rain? Which shoes would you wear inside your house?
  5. Record their responses on the chart paper or white board and then, as a group, decide which categories you will be using to sort the shoes. Write each category name on a sticky note and place it at the top of the shower curtain, forming a row across the top.
  6. Ask volunteers to select one shoe as an example of each category and place it at the top of the chart, under its category name. Then, invite volunteers to take turns selecting shoes from the pile and placing them in the corresponding category column on the shower curtain. Continue until all of the shoes are sorted. NOTE: If a shoe falls into more than one category, ask the students which category they would like to place the shoe in and why they chose to place it there. This will challenge them to think critically about choices. If you want to avoid this possibility, before you introduce the lesson to the children set it up so each shoe can fit into only one category.
  7. Have the children count the shoes in each category and compare the different groups. Help elicit comparative comments such as: Which has the least? The most? The same amount?
  8. Observations made by the students can be written on the chart paper or white board.

Teacher Tip

  • Have the shower curtain sectioned off prior to the activity. Keep the shower curtain handy for use with other charting activities.
  • Ask parents to donate adult shoes from home.
  • Take pictures of the shoes, print them out, and use the printouts to sort as a center activity at a later time.

Invite children to bring a small collection of items from home to sort in the classroom as a small group activity. Send home a suggested list of items to collect. For example:

  • Beads or buttons
  • Ribbon, yarn, or pieces of fabric
  • Corks, bottle or milk jug caps, or jar lids
  • Barrettes
  • Paper of different weights, textures, and color
  • Old keys
  • Straws, plastic forks, spoons, knives
  • Shells or rocks
  • Small seed pods, acorns, leaves, or twigs
  • Small toys

Safety Note: Be sure parents understand that children should always be supervised when collecting items indoors or outside, to clearly explain which items are safe to pick up.

Extension Ideas

If there is time and enthusiasm, return the shoes to the center of the room and work with your students to categorize and sort them a different way (by other attributes).