Shoes: Practical vs. Fashionable

Social Studies Lesson Plan

Students will understand the difference between the practical use of apparel and the use of it merely for fashion. They will express their opinion on the subject, as well as create an "Ultimate Shoe" based on their outlook.

butcher paper, list of questions (suggestions in Item 6), video/books on the shoe industry


  1. As a homework assignment, ask you class to bring in pictures of shoes. Encourage them to find pictures showing different styles of footwear. They can cut pictures out of magazines, take photographs, or draw pictures.
  2. On the day the assignment is due, have a large Venn diagram prepared for pasting the pictures. Label one side of the diagram Practical and the other side Fashionable and the overlap will be for shoes that are categorized as both practical and fashionable.
  3. Ask students what the words practical, impractical, and fashionable mean. Discuss and have them give examples.
  4. Explain the Venn diagram to the class and have them organize their pictures into three piles, one for each section of the diagram.
  5. Students will then attach their pictures to the diagram; discuss the similarities/differences among the categories and the shoes that are in them.
  6. Have a list of questions available for students to answer in groups. Here are some possibilities:
    • Has there always been such a large market for shoes?
    • How many pairs of shoes do you think one person needs?
    • What makes a pair of shoes practical/impractical/fashionable?
    • Why are shoes so fashionable today?
    • How many pairs of shoes do you think most people have? What is the average number of shoes of your group?
    • How many pairs of shoes do you think most people used to have 10 years ago? 25 years ago? 50? 100?
    • Can shoe-buying be excessive? If so, when? Can you ever have too many shoes? Why or why not?
    • We all have things we don't need. Why? Is something impractical when it's not needed? Explain.
    • How do you think shoes businesses insure that they will keep selling shoes?
    • How would the shoe market be affected if people bought shoes only when they needed them? What role does fashion play in the shoe industry?
  7. Discuss the answers to the questions as a class.
  8. Divide students into groups and give them the task of inventing the "Ultimate Shoe." They may interpret this term however they wish—for example, one group might think long-lasting, one might think comfortable, and another might think most fashionable. They need to describe the features, the materials used to create it, and why it is better than its competitors. They need to name it and draw a full-color picture of it.

Can you think of other things that are both practical and impractical? How would culture change if people only bought what they needed and if companies were dedicated to making only top-quality products? Reflect on some of the characteristics of the Ultimate Shoe you have created.

Hiking BootWere students able to grasp the concept of practical vs. fashionable? Were they able to correctly place their pictures on the Venn diagram? Were the groups' responses reasonable/thoughtful to the questions you asked? Did students participate in group work and the making of the Ultimate Shoe

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