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A PAIR OF SOCKS Level 1 Books Homepage

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NCTM Standards

  • Problem Solving
  • Reasoning and Proof
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Oh no! The blue-and-red striped sock can't find its mate. It's not in the dirty laundry, or in the washing machine, or even in the clean clothes basket. But maybe with a little help from Pup the mystery can be solved. Matching helps children recognize attributes that are the same, note those that are different, and provides an introduction to pattern recognition. Illustrated by Lois Ehlert.

DC Standard 4.2, Patterns: Children demonstrate a beginning understanding of patterns and use mathematical representations to describe patterns.

ActivitiesView Activities Homepage

Ask questions throughout the story, such as "Are the socks the same?" How is one sock different from the other sock?" and "Which is your favorite sock?

Together draw and color pairs of socks in a variety of patterns. Then cut them out and separate the pairs. Play a game of matching the socks.

Gather some matched and mismatched household items, such as mittens, socks, shoes, napkins, place mats or towels. Talk about them together using vocabulary from the book. For example: “Which mittens are the same?” “Which towels are different?” “How are they different?

  I like to add manipulatives so kids can touch and recreate the essence of the book. For "A Pair of Socks," I used lots of pairs of tiny baby socks, which you can find cheap at a Value Village or a second hand store. The kids matched the pairs. They could also play Concentration with them. Make a grid so kids have to lift up flaps to find the socks. In order to make a match, they have to remember where all the different socks are.

If you put manipulatives with a book, kids are able tie in the concepts and they use them to retell the story. It’s excellent

from Brenda Margepts, Balmoral, Manitoba

A Pair of Socks PDF Activity Page

ReviewsView Reviews Homepage


Perhaps the only picture-book story told from the point of view of a sock, this details the search for the other half of the pair. The striped sock searches laundry bag, washer, and dryer in vain, finally discovering its mate in the dog's basket. Short, snappy rhymes and Ehlert's brilliantly colored collage illustrations combine to make this tale from the MathStart series an entertaining book. Teachers and lesson-minded parents will appreciate the activities and books suggested to extend the learning about pairs, patterns, and differences.

—Carolyn Phelan, 10/1/96
Used with permission from Booklist. Copyright © 1996 American Library Association. All rights reserved.


Finding a pair of socks means matching the pattern (including color) on two socks. This is the story of a little person looking for a matching sock—in the laundry, in the washing machine, in the dryer, in the drawer, and in the puppy's bed, where it is found with a hole and has to have a patch. The little person is never shown; mostly, socks are. The end of the story has two pages of illustrations of socks that need to be paired up. As is appropriate for the level, there is no overt emphasis on any mathematical ideas, but pairing is emphasized throughout. There is no other counting or arithmetic. A section at the end discusses how to enhance learning and suggests other experiences. It would have been interesting to include a tear-out copy of the page with all the different socks that appears at the end of the book. Then the young reader could cut out each individual sock and physically put the socks in pairs. From the MathStart series. Highly recommended.

—Dr. Donald E. Myers
Used with permission from SB&F, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.