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  • Writer's pictureAngela Russ-Ayon

18 STEM Concepts Children Learn When They Put on Their Shoes

Updated: Jan 27

There is a point when children can do things for themselves, yet parents and caregivers continue to do things for them. Encouraging young children to put on their own shoes promotes high-level thinking. Allow time for them to do the task, and let them practice when you aren’t trying to race out the door. Learning new skills promotes independence and builds confidence. A young child is still processing EVERYTHING, making connections to previous experiences, and building a foundation for critical thinking skills. Learned adults often take these skills for granted. Here are 18 STEM concepts young children are learning:

1) This is a shoe. Like everything, shoes have specific attributes, so when children retrieve their shoes, they use a math skill called classifying. In other words, children identify that shoes share specific characteristics that set them apart from coats, gloves, socks, etc.

2) Shoes come in pairs or matched sets by size, color, and style. This is sorting.

3) One shoe goes on each foot, so they will need two shoes. This is number sense.

4) Putting on shoes helps develop fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Children manipulate smaller muscles in their hands and fingers, which are eventually used to write.

Spatial sense is an understanding of shape, size, position, direction, and movement, which involves the concepts of traditional geometry. See how this knowledge involves spatial sense:

5) The sole of the shoe rests on the floor. The foot goes in the upper portion.

6) The toes go in the front of the shoe, and the heel goes in the back.

7) If the heel won’t slip all the way in, the shoes are too small.

8) If the foot slips out or has too much room, the shoes are too big. They may belong to someone else.

9) The curve of the shoe matches the arch of the right or left foot.

10) If the shoes feel funny, they may be on the wrong foot.

Let’s look at problem-solving.

11) Select the right shoe for the right activity: wear flip-flops to the beach or ballet shoes to dance.

12) The shoe can’t be put on if it is laced, buttoned, or Velcroed closed. The closure must be opened first.

13) Getting part of the foot into a shoe does not mean the shoe is on.

14) It is easier to put shoes on when sitting than when standing.

15) One can push a foot into a shoe when standing, but might have to bend down to hold the shoe.

16) If the shoe's heel is folded down, it must be pulled up to get the rest of the foot in.

17) How does the shoe close once the foot is in? Velcro, laces, slip-on?

18) How does the closure work?

Be patient and ask open-ended questions to encourage children to think in new and different ways:

"I can tell you want to do it yourself. What else can you try?"

"What would happen if you turned the shoe around?"

If you step in and help, verbalize your actions so children can hear your problem-solving process.

Feel free to share your ideas with me, and I will add them to this post.


Author of: The BIG Book of Open-Ended Questions to Intentionally Support Young Children in Learning: Topics for Preschool thru 1st Grade, ISBN-13: 978-0-9987090-7-9, Feb 2023

Angela Russ-Ayon is a mom-preneur, children’s author, interactive trainer on the subject of early childhood, and award-winning artist/producer of music for young children. She presents educational strategies to child care providers, parents, and teachers nationwide for AEYCs, R & Rs, and the like. She is a member of the Recording Academy and is the sole owner of Russ InVision Records. For more information on Angela, her workshops, and her accomplishments you are welcome to visit © 2021, Russ InVision. All rights reserved.

Find out more about Angela Russ-Ayon and her affordable interactive keynote and workshop presentations coast-to-coast on the subjects of early childhood development, STEM (science and math), open-ended questions, and family engagement. Visit her training page. offers fun songs and physical activities for distance learning, virtual classes, webinars, child care facilities, after-school programs, homeschooling, preschools, daycare centers, kindergarten classes, or rainy-day recesses.

For information: Contact: Angela Russ-Ayon

Phone: 562-421-1836


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