Child Education, February 2004

Shape Sort!

Hebe Three needs style advice - explore strategies for sorting data with a visit to Numberline Lane.

NNS objectives

Practical and visual strategies are essential at the early stages of understanding in sorting and grouping data. If a story is used as a stimulus, then the children can use the characters as a means of role-playing possible outcomes, providing a vital tool in problem-solving. This process can then be transferred on to paper or an ICT package, to represent the sorting and organisation of the data.

Whole class

Introduce Numberline Lane and the character of Hebe Three (see box right). Discuss with the class the problem of sorting shoes into pairs. Reinforce the idea that there are many different ways of sorting the same information.


Back in the classroom, ask the children to record one of the ways that they grouped the shapes. They could use a list, table, block graph or pictogram (see Resource file opposite for blank templates).


Use a pictogram or block graph that one of the children has completed. Ask questions relating to the data. For example: Which group has the most/least number of shapes? How many shapes were recorded altogether?

Web link

For further activities and worksheets on data-handling, visit the Numberline Lane website at

Three's company

Hebe Three has the largest house on Numberline Lane. She also has the largest collection of hats and shoes. One day, Hebe decides she is going to wear her special yellow hat. 'Now I need to find some shoes that match,' she said.

Hebe opened her cupboard and her many shoes tumbled out, all over the floor. There were so many that poor Hebe could not find a matching pair.

'I need some help to sort my shoes,' she decided. Suzy Two suggested sorting the shoes into two groups - one for left shoes and one for right shoes. Nora Four suggested sorting them into indoor and outdoor shoes. Then Jenny Ten came up with a much better way of sorting the shoes...

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Last update 8 Mar 2021