Socks Are Like Pants, Cats Are Like Dogs

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Socks Are Like Pants Cover

84 pages. ISBN 978-0-9776939-0-0

Beautiful paperback for your learning library – $24. SALE $19 It comes with ePub, Kindle, and PDF files of the book.
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Printable pages

If you’d like to print diagrams from the book, here are some PDFs.

Click here to download all six pages in one PDF file.

Click each picture or description below to download a single page PDF.

Socks_Are_Like_Pants-printable-two_grids-4x4    Socks_Are_Like_Pants-printable-four_grids-4x4

Grids for the Geometric Grid Design activity: 2 grids per page and 4 grids per page.

Socks_Are_Like_Pants-printable-Venn_Diagram-4  Socks_Are_Like_Pants-printable-Venn_Diagram-5

Socks_Are_Like_Pants-printable-Venn_Diagram-5-fancy  Socks_Are_Like_Pants-printable-Venn_Diagram-7

Diagrams for the Venn Diagram activity: 4 regions, 5 regions, different 5 regions, 7 regions

About the book

Do you want your children to feel like algebra is beautiful, playful, and intuitive? Come play, solve, talk, and make math with us! Support our book, reserve your copy, and make these math adventures available to children, parents, and teachers all over the world.

Our book Socks are Like Pants, Cats are Like Dogs is filled with a diverse collection of math games, puzzles, and activities exploring the mathematics of choosing, identifying and sorting. Teachers and parents have tested all activities in real classrooms and living rooms. The activities are easy to start and require little preparation.

Watch our crowdfunding video: the campaign is done, but the video is still fun.

What’s Inside the Book?

Take a look!

Dancing variables from Socks Are Like Pants

Get a taste of three activities from the book with this free download.

Cats Are Like Dogs Preview

This is Like That is an endlessly flexible, changeable game where the challenge is to create a chain of associations between seemingly unrelated objects based on their properties and attributes. Like all activities in the book, you can easily adapt this game to a variety of age ranges, available materials, and settings.

We often ask children to find and sort everyday objects according to their properties, for example, into piles of white socks and socks that are not white. In early algebra terms, this means sorting items into categories. We can also use this kind of mathematical thinking about properties to create brand new objects. The book includes a number of easy to assemble projects, such as Make Your Own Matching Games, using every day making supplies (beads, paper shapes, glue, blocks, and even your own body!).

In the series of puzzles called Beetle Sort the whole family can use the beautiful photographs of beetle collector Dr. Udo Schmidt to sort beetles based on how they look. Before the advent of genetics, this is how we categorized all animals. Sorting requires finding attributes; for example, some beetles have thicker legs, kinked antennae, or powerful mandibles.

About the Authors

Malke RosenfeldMalke Rosenfeld is a percussive dance teaching artist, math explorer, curriculum designer, editor, and writer. As creator of the Math in Your Feet program, her interdisciplinary inquiry focuses on the intersections between percussive dance and mathematics and how to best illustrate these connections for learners. Malke’s love of math has been rekindled and deepened as she watches her daughter grow and discover math in the world around her. You can see more at

Gordon HamiltonGordon Hamilton (Masters of Mathematics, PhD in Mathematical Biology) is a board game and puzzle designer. He founded in 2010 to inject new ideas into the classroom. There is nothing he enjoys more than stumping students and having them stump him. MathPickle’s primary objective is to get thirteen curricular unsolved problems into classrooms worldwide – one for each grade K-12. A conference in November 2013 established the thirteen unsolved problems. Gordon is a single father living with his two huggable children (aged five & eight) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The Math of Making Comparisons

As parents and teachers we know that kids are experts at noticing. We also know that many kids love to talk about what they see. These kinds of conversations can happen anywhere and are ripe with potential for finding and discussing math.

For example, two socks are the same because they’re both socks. The two socks are not the same because one is solid red and the other has polka dots. Socks and pants are the same because they’re both items of clothing and they come in pairs! But they’re not the same because socks are (usually) for feet and pants are (usually) for legs.

These kinds of comparisons help build a mathematical understanding of sameness and help children learn to describe the properties of the object or person in question. In mathematical terms we call this first idea equivalence, an idea that one thing can be like another if you focus on an aspect with similarity or sameness. When you notice attributes (particular properties that describe an object) and choose variables, the world of algebraic reasoning opens to you.

As you and your children choose from an inventory of variables to create artwork, you experience how algebraic ideas come to be. As you and your children discover, name, and sort attributes in games and puzzles, you grow your abilities to notice structure, order, and pattern. These are all necessary skills for mathematical activity at any level. Helping kids make explicit their observations about attributes and their choices related to variables is what this book is all about.

Table of Contents

Master list of keywords
Note to the curious
This is Like That
Beading Patterns
Beetle Sort
All the Same! Making Paper Pizzas
Dancing Variables
Venn Diagrams
Geometric Grid Designs
Create Your Own Matching Game
Name Connection

And One More Thing

Our book will be published under Creative Commons license. It means that people all over the world will be able to access its content, translate it into different languages – and share their ideas based on the book with you. The Creative Commons site Team Open features Natural Math in its celebration of innovative projects in education. 

11 comments on “Socks Are Like Pants, Cats Are Like Dogs
  1. Marina Pratchettt says:

    I tried contributing to your Socks are Like Pants.. but the contribute button does not work

    • MariaD says:

      Marina, thank you very much for letting us know. What browser and what machine were you using?

      You need to enable Javascript for the button to work.

      There is an older version of Internet Explorer that frowns upon our button. Try opening this page in a different browser and see if it helps.

  2. Melissa Miller says:

    Hi! I preordered this book over the summer, and we’re eagerly awaiting its publication. Do you have an estimated date?

    • MariaD says:


      Thank you for your interest! We are finishing the layout. The book should be out December to January. It’s so beautiful!

  3. Debbie MICHELS says:

    Is it out, yet? I bought my e-copy a few months ago, but haven’t received it yet. I was hoping to get it before the new semester starts (in 2 weeks). Has it been released yet?

    • MariaD says:

      It is out as of today, Debbie! Thank you for supporting the project with your pre-order. You should receive your ebook today (February 4).

  4. In one word: masterpiece. My grandson, 7, enthusiastically classifies beetles. He started by comparing them one by one; now he looks at a picture, for a minute and two, and then rounds beetles of the same family with a single curved line. Classification becomes interiorised.

    Mathematical thinking is made of interiorised skills of that kind.

    One issue: the Venn diagram on page 41 has only 14 parts, not 16, as one would expect. An advanced exercise: find combinations of Edible/Not Edible, etc., which have no space reserved for them.

  5. Sarah says:

    I’m excited to use this fun book with my kids, but the PDF won’t print properly! It seems to be leaving layers out? For example, on the beetle answer pages it only prints the grayscale beetles and not the color ones, and some of the full colored pages it’s only printing the instructions (collect 6 beetles from this family, etc) and none of the pictures. Its not my printer but maybe some weird pdf setting I don’t know about?! Help!

    Thank you so much for this amazing resource and your hard work!

    • MariaD says:


      Glad you like the book, and sorry to hear about the technical problems. I tried to reproduce the error on my end but could not. Please be assured that the file does not have any DRM, protection, or anything else that is meant to mess up with printing and copying. We want you to share the materials with ease!

      Most likely, a program you are using is set up to print only grayscale. Some programs or printers turn that setting on to save you color ink. If you can’t find the setting, try opening the file in another program, such as your web browser, and print a test page from there. I hope this helps!

  6. Marta says:

    So I purchased the hard copy of this book. Is there a way to get the pictures for the sorts without paying for it again as a PDF?

    • MariaD says:


      Glad to see you are actively working with your book. Yes, you can download the PDF at name-your-price, including 0. There is a window where you can type the price, with 8 as the suggestion. Please let me know if this doesn’t quite make sense, or if there is any trouble on your device, and we will try to make the process better. Thank you for helping children learn playful math!

5 Pings/Trackbacks for "Socks Are Like Pants, Cats Are Like Dogs"
  1. […] I share a math lesson titled This is Like That from the book Socks Are Like Pants, Cats Are Like Dogs: Games, Puzzles, and Activities for Choosing, Identifying, and Sorting Math by Malke Posenfeld and […]

  2. […] couple years ago Malke Rosenfeld, author of Socks are Like Pants, Cats are Like Dogs,  used Cuisenaire Rods with some students to create the Hundred Face Challenge. The gist of the […]

  3. […] author of  the newly released book Math on The Move and Socks are Like Pants, Cats are Like Dogs, discusses the difference between memorization and learning and the problem with memorization […]

  4. […] with an idea from the wonderful Socks are Like Pants, Cats are Like Dogs, by Malke Rosenfeld and Gordon Hamilton, we decided to build “pictures” that showed […]

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