This problem is about being able to sort everyday objects into categories. The students need to think of what features the clothes have in common and what makes them different. They need to sort the clothes into three sets so that all three drawers have something in them. The students need to decide on the categories themselves and be able to explain why each piece of clothing does or does not belong in it. Key words that are used here are: same, different, set or groups.
Being able to find common properties of objects and being able to describe these properties, are important skills in mathematics and statistics. They are two themes that underpin many of the things that are taught in school.
I have socks, shorts, singlets, trousers, jumpers, track pants, t-shirts, gloves, scarves, pants and a jacket. But I only have 3 drawers to keep them in.
How can I decide what group of clothes to keep in each drawer?
How many different ways could I decide on?
- Start the class by talking about the clothes the students are wearing.
How many different types are there?
Who decides what you wear?
Are there any clothes for special situations? (E.g. raincoats)
- Read the problem to the class.
Where do you keep your clothes?
Do you have special drawers for different types of clothes?
- Show the students the pictures of the clothes. Use blue tack to stick them to the board.
How can we sort these clothes?
Can we make three different sets of clothes?
- Following the suggestions of the students move the pictures into groups on the board so the students can see.
Can socks go into this group? Why or why not?
- Show students the sheet with the three drawers on it. Explain they have to decide on three different sets of clothes to go into each drawer.
- Let the students cut out the pictures and glue them into the drawers. As they work ask them
What type of clothes belong in this drawer?
How do you know if they belong?
What is the same about all these clothes?
What is different about these clothes?"
- Bring class back together and have students show their drawers to the others and explain how they sorted them.
Extension to the Problem
Change the number of drawers, or add a cupboard.
Let the students think which drawer the clothes they are wearing would fit into.
Other Contexts for the Problem
Sorting other every day objects like: cutlery, linen, toys, games, tools, etc.
Students need to be allowed to decide on their own categories. They must be able to give the reasons why each piece of clothing either belongs or doesn’t belong in the drawer.
Some categories of clothes that are put into different drawers might be:
Winter clothes Underwear Long/Short sleeves
Summer clothes Bottoms Tops