Nonstandard Division

The game Labyrinth has been a recent favorite at our house.  However, this post isn’t so much about the game itself, but rather about Zoe dealing with a certain aspect of the setup: dividing a pile of cards evenly between the players (in this case 2).

Now Zoe has played a number of “card” games and she has gotten pretty good at dealing them out (one for you, one for me, one for you, and so on).  However, in this game, the cards have pictures on them and she certainly has favorites.  For example, she knows that she definitely wants the keys and the ring while she doesn’t care much for the spider and the owl.  So her first step is to pick our her favorites.


She then gives me the ones she definitely doesn’t want:


And finally she divides the rest somewhat arbitrarily.

We then agree that we need to count how many cards each one of us got.


We come up with 9 in my pile and 15 in Zoe’s.

Me: Is this a fair division of the cards?
Zoe: No.
Me: So I should give you some cards to make it fair, right?
Zoe (laughing): No! I should give you some cards.
She then proceeds to give me one card.
Zoe: Now it’s fair.
Me: Well lets count how many I have.

We count my 10 cards, and somehow this still doesn’t feel fair to Zoe so she gives me two more (calling them eleven, twelve). She is about to give me more cards when I suggest she count how many she now has.


(For some reason this time she decided to lay them out so that she could see each individual one rather than laying them on top of each other).

When she is done counting she very excitedly exclaims that there are 12 of them.  The division is now fair and we could start playing the game itself.

Interestingly enough, whereas in the past we have on multiple occasions played the game until the very end, this time she was done with it after just a few minutes of playing.  I guess all that counting and dividing took a lot out of her!

About aofradkin

I enjoy thinking about presenting mathematical concepts to young children in exciting and engaging ways.
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1 Response to Nonstandard Division

  1. David says:

    Yeah, I remember one time after my mother and I got back from a trip, and I had spent x dollars, and she had spent y dollars, so she said I should give her x – y to make it fair!


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