Sorting Beyond 100 (Age 8)

The Activities

  1. Topic: Logic. Book: True Lies, by Shannon. We did chapters 6 – 9 this week. The stories were a bit uneven. For example one hinged on a pun of ‘poor scholar’ meaning both financially needy and ‘bad student’. We figure out several of the others though. All four kids came up with theories for at least one story.
  2. Topic: Sorting. My daughter saw the little circle sorting the numbers 1 – 100, and kept asking if her circle could do it again. Back in July, the older kids set a new record for sorting the cards 1 – 100 in only 5:40. This time I had cards from 1 – 200.

How did it go?

We had four kids this week. It was a fun, excited circle, though my daughter seemed over-tired. She had to be sent out a couple times because she was crying or being rude to other kids.

Big Sorting

I told the kids they got to sort 1 – 200 this week, but I wanted them to have a strategy first. One kid proposed breaking the cards into piles by decade: 0 – 10 in one pile, 10 – 20 in another, up to 190. She suggested using labels so we knew where to put each card.

After a bit of arguing the kids made labels for each set of 10 cards. One kid then laid the labels out close together, intending to put the cards in a stack under the label. Another kid suggested putting the cards downward from the label in sorted order. So you would put 53 under the ’50’ label, leaving space for 50, 51, 52.

A third kid felt very strongly that we should put the labels out on the floor as markers for where our row of cards should be. So we put 0 at one side of the room, and then ’10’ about 10 card-widths away. The kids laid out all the labels, which stretched across our bedroom, down the hall, into my son’s room.

I started the timer, and the kids all started running back and forth putting cards where they belonged. The kids seemed to enjoy it when they had a high number like 193, followed by a low one like 5 in their stack. They would run all the way to the opposite ends of the house to put down one card. No one sorted their stack before putting down the cards.

My daughter quickly got annoyed by the labels, and started to throw them away when she put down a card near a label. This worked out fine because the cards themselves acted as place markers by that point.

Everyone moved quickly, and the labels minimized the amount of time spent scooting cards down to make room for other cards. Overall it took 11:28 to sort all 200.

The kids were very energized by this, and really wanted to sort 300 cards now. I didn’t realize they meant they wanted to add 200 – 300 to the end of the already sorted cards, so my daughter got pretty upset when I picked up the cards 1 -200.

Eventually they decided they still wanted to sort all 300 cards. I said we had to talk strategy first. What went well during the last sort? A couple kids said everything went well.  What could have gone better? I thought they might mention that they had to run back and forth a lot. Instead, my daughter said that the labels were too confusing, and they should not use labels this time.  I was quite surprised. I asked, If we don’t have labels, how do I know where to put number 250? The kids said it’d be easy, and then each of them suggested totally different places to put it. One kid thought the line should curve out of my son’s room and go back down the hall. Another thought the middle of the line should go through the hall bathroom. It was clear no one knew where 250 went.

I asked if they were sure they didn’t need labels? They were all sure. I said ok, but I predict it will be very hard… I started the timer, and immediately confusion started. A bunch of kids gathered in my son’s room trying to decide what to do with the cards over 200. Eventually they gave up and sorted through their piles of cards, looking for cards less than 200. This was easier than it should have been because I didn’t shuffle very well. After finding a group of nearby cards, like a bunch of 50s, the kid would put them in place by roughly remembering where that decade had been during the last sort.

A couple kids said “This is hard…we should have had labels”. After 11:30, I stopped them because circle was over. They had sorted about 100 cards, and not a single card above 200 was sorted. This will be very interesting to follow up on in a future circle.


My daughter starting the 1-200 sort, with the decade markers.




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