Knock Their Socks Off

How many times have you lost a sock to the fictitious sock eating monster that lives in the washing machine? With 5 people in my family growing up we lost quite a few and I remember we had a large shoe box filled with socks that lost their mates called "the sock box". I also remember "the sock box" being quite full at all times.

As an adult doing laundry for four, I have vowed to keep up with the sock matching and putting away, but as I looked at the top of my dryer about a week ago (that's my space for unmatching socks) I found myself slipping. Perhaps it's the fact that I never seem to see the bottom of the laundry pile that keeps me from finding all of the matches or the fact that my son and daughter both have lots of crazy colored and patterned socks, but I thought wouldn't matching socks be a fun game?

Okay so it's a chore for us parents and to be honest, my son was a little skeptical, but for my daughter this was a really fun game. Matching socks is also educational. No, seriously, it is. One of the first math concepts we teach our students in kindergarten at the beginning of the year is sorting. And we usually begin our sorting unit with visual discrimination a.k.a. how are things alike and different. Also, having your children sort the socks will likely shave about 10-15 minutes off your laundry time, so it's definitely worth it right?

First, I collected interesting looking socks into a basket. By interesting I mean colorful, patterned and textured. I picked a couple plain white or black ones here and there, but I didn't put all of the socks I washed into the basket. Honestly it was more of my daughter and son's socks than anything. Kid socks are by far more fun than my husbands boring black and white socks. Sorry honey!

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I chose a decently small basket, no need to be overwhelming and filled it in 3 or 4 loads. I started by dumping the basket upside down on the floor. I told my son we were going to talk about socks and at first I think he thought I was crazy. I got him to pick out two socks and hold them in his hands.

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I thought for sure he was going to go for two socks that were the same, but he picked out two completely different and very girly socks. I asked him how they were different first, because they were obviously different. He said, "one is white with orange and the other has pink and white strips." Then I asked how they were alike and he replied, "they both have white." I was excited to see him make the connection about how they were alike in one small way despite their glaring differences. I find that sometimes children get so hung up on the differences, that they have a difficult time seeing the similarities. I had him pick out two more socks and we repeated this a few times with different mixed pairs. I found it interesting that he never picked up a pair of matching socks until I asked him to find socks that were exactly alike.

Next we found the matches and stacked them on top of each other. My almost two year old daughter was actually quite good at this. I tried to be silly a few times and match socks that were the same size but had different patterns or ones that were the same color but different sizes, but that sent my son into a fit of giggles. "No Mommy, they're not the same." Here are some of our matches.

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After we laid out all of the matches, I showed my son how to roll them together so the matches stay together and we made a game out of tossing the rolled socks into the basket.

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Now all I have to do is carry the basket from room to room and put them away. Perhaps we'll sort by owner next time and have the sock owners put them away.