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Four-Sock Drawers

Source Institutions

    Lawrence Hall of Science

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Four-Sock Drawers

These puzzles use four colors of socks in a drawer to get learners thinking algebraically. The introduction suggests that actual socks should add fun to the activity, and colored markers can help when there aren't enough socks. The introduction suggests strategies such as making a list, using guess and check, and trying the formal algebraic method. The problems become more challenging as you work from Drawer 1 through 9. Also included are Algebra Notes that explain one approach to figuring out Drawer 2. An extension is to make up new puzzles.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Four-Sock Drawer Puzzles
  • pencil and paper
  • calculators
  • colored markers
  • socks


  • Mathematics
    • Algebra
      • Equations and Inequalities
      • Patterns
      • Variables and Expressions
    • Problem Solving


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection:

  • Science After School Consumer's Guide


  • All Rights Reserved, The Regents of the University of California, ©1998


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