The Chaos of Sorting

The Activities

  1. Topic: Money: Book: The Coin Counting Book by Williams.
  2. Topic: Sorting: Sort the cards 1 – 104 in 15 minutes

    My daughter in the middle of the sorting activity.

  3. Topic: Sets: Play ‘Set’ with the Attribute Blocks.  Find a set of 3 shapes that for each attribute are the same or all different. The attributes are color, size, shape, and thickness.

    This is a set. Thickness: same, Size: same, Shape: different, Color: different.

    Not a set. Color: same Thickness: same Shape: different. Size: this is the problem. two are big but one is small.

  4. Topic: Numbers and Counting: Make decimal and Egyptian numbers out of the Base Ten Blocks unit blocks. For example, I say make 237, and the kids should grab 2 hundred squares, 3 ten bars and 7 unit cubes.  Or I show a number written in Hieroglyphics and the kids make it out of blocks.


This was an easy circle to prepare.  For the sorting activity we used the cards from the card game Category 5.  We printed out simplified heiroglyphic numbers.

How did it go?

We had 5 kids at circle this week.


We’ve done sorting several times before, and it is always fascinating to watch.  Last week we had the 3 parents do this same activity, and the kids watched, hopefully learning some strategies from watching the parents.

I shuffled up the deck of 104 cards, and hand a stack to each kid. Then I say ‘Go!’, and watch what happens.  This time one of the kids started telling the others to sort the cards into a separate pile per decade (i.e. 20s in one pile, 30s in another). This is how the parents solved this problem last week.

At first the kids each sorted into their own separate piles, but eventually 3 of the kids started working together. Then one kid took the #s 1 – 10 to lay out on the floor but didn’t tell anyone else, so the other kids were shouting “Where are the low numbers?” The kids used their decade piles to lay out the 30s, 40s, and 50s, but by then the remaining cards had gotten mixed together.  All the kids then grabbed their own random pile of cards, and progress really slowed down.

They got to 75 before the timer beeped and then they begged to keep going.  At this point 2 kids were holding the last 30 cards, and they were giving them out one by one. One of the other kids started laying out each card approximately where it should go, even if it left a gap. This sped everything up dramatically, and they finished all 104 in 4 extra minutes.

Attribute Block Set

At first, the kids didn’t quite understand what they were supposed to do.  As soon as you see a ‘Set’ of three shapes you call out ‘Set!’ and pick them up. We started playing a round, and two of the kids got 5 sets, while the others got 2, 3, and 3. By the end of the round everyone understood, and wanted to play another round. This time it was more even: 5, 3, 3, 3, 3.

Big Numbers

First I called out the number ‘782’.  All the kids immediately gathered together 7 hundred squares, 8 ten bars and 2 unit blocks.  Next I showed them the Egyptian number chart, and asked them to make an Egyptian number out of Base Ten Blocks.  All the kids quickly did this, and when I asked them the English name of the number they were able to answer ‘576’. The Egyptian numbers are fun to work with because they are pretty pictures, and it’s a different way of representing numbers.




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