Planning: A Trip to the Shoe Store

Betsy has been growing like a weed and, all of a sudden, none of the clothes in her closet fit. Perhaps you’re familiar with this phenomenon? I stockpile next-size-up clothing when I see things on sale. But I’m always afraid to buy ahead with shoes. Every time we go to the shoe store it seems her feet have grown 2-3 sizes… I am convinced that her feet grow multiple sizes in a matter of days…

A few weeks ago, we realized B needed all new shoes. We took advantage of the Nordstrom anniversary sale to pick her up some cute, affordable sneakers… but realized when the weather changed that she could really use a pair of boots as well. I prefer to try shoes on so I figured B and I would make an afternoon of boot shopping and try to learn from the experience as well.

too small shoes

Book Recommendations:

Big Sarah’s Little Boots by Paulette Bourgeois

This book is part of our personal collection and, I’m sad to say it seems to be out of print. However, used copies are available and it’s worth checking your library for. This is the story of Sarah, who outgrows her favorite puddle-jumping rain boots. Her boots are passed along to her little brother, and she reluctantly shops for new boots with her mother. In the end, as you might expect, she realizes that the new boots are pretty great for puddle jumping as well.   We pull this book out every few months when B suddenly outgrows everything she owns (see above!). It always takes a bit of convincing for B to part with well-loved items in her closet and this book often softens the blow.

Katie Woo: Katie’s New Shoes by Fran Manushkin

This was a library find that I targeted because of familiarity with the author. I was surprised to realize that it is written as a chapter book and wondered if I’d accidently chosen something that was intended for older children. In fact, this is a chapter book written for preschool-age children, a format I haven’t seen much of. The story was simple but on topic – Katie Woo needs new shoes, and wants new shoes with “pizzazz!” B seemed to like the chapter format, which I pointed out and described as something more common in books for bigger kids and grown ups. I’m intrigued by this series now and will certainly consider looking for other “Katie Woo” books at our library.

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes by Ann Morris

Ann Morris is a best selling author of non-fiction children’s books, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find a preschool classroom without at least 1 of her titles. Like her other books, this one shows photos of people around the world and their shoes. The photos include rain boots and sneakers… but also flippers and pointe shoes.

Whose Shoe? By Margaret Miller

This book is dated! The shoes, and other clothing shown in the photos will take you back a few decades. That said, this book was B’s hands-down favorite in our stack of books about shoes. I wasn’t surprised by B’s enthusiasm because it was a consistent hit with my students when I taught preschool as well. The text is extremely simple, it repeatedly asks “whose shoe” with a photo of a shoe. When you turn the page, you see the person wearing the shoe (e.g. a ballet dancer in ballet slippers) as well as a child trying the shoe on. The guessing is fun, the discussion about various types of shoes is engaging… and the photos may bring back some childhood memories for parents reading this book!

Suggested activities:

Trying on shoes: Trying on several pairs of shoes at home. Are there any that are too big (moms or dad’s perhaps)? Are there any that are too small? Are there any that are just right? On what types of occasions does each family member wear their various pairs of shoes?

Finding numbers at the shoes store: Have your feet measured. Once you learn your size, see if you can find shoes with the correct number on them.   Do you think the bigger numbers will be too big or too small? Maybe try some on at the sizes above and below to compare. Search for shoes that meet the criteria you’ve set forth for this shopping trip… We’re planning to look for rain boots. Maybe you need some fancy shoes for upcoming holidays or practical sneakers to wear to the playground.

A shoe store at home: Revisit the experience! Set up a shoe store in your entryway where shoes gather anyway. Play “shoe store” as you put shoes on to head out by “measuring” feet before handing over the correct shoes and then asking if they fit correctly. Don’t forget to check the toes!

Notes about your child’s learning:

Social Studies:

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes by Ann Morris easily lends itself to a discussion of various types of shoes and why people in some cultures or geographic regions might wear various types of footwear.


The science process skill of comparing lends itself to this unit of study. Gather several pairs of shoes… what is similar about them? What is different?


Gather shoes from each of your family members and start figuring out who has the biggest and smallest shoes. Can your child figure out how to arrange a pile of shoes from smallest to largest? How many shoes in a pair? How many shoes and pairs of shoes can you count in your house? You might also look for numbers in shoes, and search for the correct size at the shoe store (we need an 8!).


Stomping in puddles is an amazing sensory activity if the weather cooperates. After stomping, can you leave footprints on dry sidewalk or in the mud? How do the footprints of various family members compare? What shapes do the bottom of each pair of shoes make? Can you recreate those shapes at home on paper? If you’re feeling very adventurous you might even try using shoes as stamps with large washable ink pads like these ones from Melissa & Doug.

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