The Sorting World Record! (Age 7)

The Activities

1. Topic: Trading, Equivalent Values. Dinosaur Deals by Murphy.

2. Topic: Logic, Indirect Reasoning. I told the kids an interesting story about a poor girl, a prince, and a mean king, and asked them to explain the ending.

3. Topic: Sorting. Sort cards with the numbers 1 – 104 on them.

4. Topic: Graphs, Partial Ordering. Build structures out of numbered Keva blocks. Then build a diagram describing the build order of the structure.

A block struture with its diagram.

A block struture with its diagram.

5. Topic: Attributes. The kids played the game Set.  A ‘set’ is a group of three cards where each attribute (number, shape, color, shading), is either the same or different on all 3 cards. For example, the top 2 middle card and the 3rd card on the bottom are a set because:

  • Each card has exactly 1 shape.
  • Each card is a different color.
  • Each card is an oval.
  • Each card has different shading.


How did it go?

Life or Death?

Here’s the story I told the kids (adapted from Math from Three to Seven by Zvonkin).

A poor girl and a prince fell in love. The King did not want them to marry, but he said he’d give them one chance.  He would put the word “Life” on one card, and “Death” on another, and put both cards in a hat. If the girl drew out “Life”, then she could marry the prince. If she drew out “Death”, then she would be killed. The girl would draw a card out at noon in front of the whole Kingdom.

The king really did not want her to marry the prince, so he told his advisor that he was planning to put two cards that both said “Death” in the hat. The prince heard the King talking, and warned the girl.  The girl was very scared, but then she came up with a plan.

At noon the next day, she drew a card out of the hat, and then…she ate it!

Why did she eat it?

The kids suggested various things like, “Maybe the king will make new cards”, or “Maybe the girl can put two “life” cards in”.

Eventually with some clues they realized that the townspeople could look at the leftover card to tell what the girl had drawn out.  The leftover card will say “Death”, so the girl must have eaten “Life”. The king did not want to admit his trick, so the girl got to marry the prince.


Two weeks ago I the big kids circle set a new record for sorting.  104 cards in 12:30 seconds.  There were only two kids at that circle, and this time we had 3 kids.  I challenged the kids to beat the previous best time. Before they started, my daughter explained the strategy they had used last time, and the kids agreed to use that strategy again this time.

Each kids would take a stack of cards and then put each card where it should go, leaving gaps whereever there are missing numbers.  The kids started working right away, and made really good progress.  Toward then end, one girl ended up picking up all the cards and sorting them herself.  I said “It seems like you’ve really slowed down now…”  My daughter said “She has all the cards!”  I said she should ask, and the other girl immediately handed cards to each other kids.

In the end they finished in 8:30, destroying the previous record!

Construction Graphs

My daughter had done this in the small circle two weeks ago, and immediately started building structures and drawing her own graphs.  I worked through a sample with the other two kids, who quickly got the basic idea. Then we took turns building structures and drawing graphs. We also started with a graph, and then built the corresponding structure.

It was still possible to confuse the kids by building complex structures, so it’s worth doing this again.


The kids were all excited to play Set, especially my daughter. She was quite a bit faster than the other two, so I made her slow down or let them have a turn, so they got a chance.


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