BBC iD

# Socks come in matching pairs!

by Heather Welford. Toddlers love to help - and they also enjoy solving simple puzzles too.

## Introduction

Toddlers love to help, and they also enjoy solving simple puzzles too.

Here's a simple idea you can do every time you empty the tumble drier or take washing off the line - and it makes the most of your child's growing understanding of similarities and differences.

It also allows your child to begin to understand the importance of numbers - and how there is a difference between 'one' and 'two' and 'lots'.

## Extra information

A younger toddler will need a little help at first, but as socks should be a pretty familiar object, they'll soon get the picture.

Get your child to put the socks to one side, in another box or basket. You'll not have to mind too much about your clean washing being rummaged through!

## How to make a magic moment

Give a little commentary as your child is doing all the sorting: 'Oh, what a lot of socks, all different colours and all mixed up!' Point out any they have missed: 'Look, that's one's got stuck inside your T-shirt - it's hiding!' Then when you have a pile of socks in the other basket, tell them: 'We've got to put them together!' Ask your child how many feet he/she has (tell them if they don't yet know). Then say: 'We need two socks for two feet!'

Your action now is to hold up a sock, and to ask your toddler: 'Where's the other one?' When he finds the other sock, say something he can join in with, e.g. 'Yes, the same!' If he presents the 'wrong' sock, say 'No, that one's different!' and let them try again. Say your 'line' every time. When you have got all the pairs sorted, you can applaud your work together.

## Expert opinion

Sorting objects into categories and groups according to different characteristics is the basis of early numeracy.

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## Top tips

• You can extend this activity to include other categories. Which are daddy's socks/mummy's socks/long socks/short socks?Be playful - join in yourself and put a sock with a vest, or a pair of pants. Challenge your toddler to correct you!Dress your child's teddies and other soft toys in the socks - which ones fit best and which are too big?Help develop their knowledge of colours by pointing out the different colours of the socks, with greater precision as your toddler grows (e.g. light blue, dark red, green spots, black stripes).

## Parent's tale

Jonathan loves this activity and he especially likes it when I pretend to help him and deliberately get the pairs wrong. 'Mummy, silly!' he laughs.

Amanda, from Bristol

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