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Day 3

I have a problem for you to solve!


Sean threw his beanbag 20 paces. Henry threw his beanbag 18 paces. Janine threw her beanbag 21 paces.

Who was the winner?


James hopped on one leg for 25 hops. Anna hopped on one leg for 32 hops. Gina hopped on one leg for 29 hops.

Who was the winner?


Amit ran across the playground in 20 seconds. Sara took 18 seconds. Marek took 17 seconds.

Who was the winner?


This problem gives the children experiences of different ways of winning. Usually children expect a larger score to be the winning one. This holds in many sports (high jump,  javelin throwing) but in timed events the smaller the number, the better. Confronting and discussing this contradiction may help them to understand some of the conversations about Olympic scores they may hear as well as supporting their longer term understanding of measure.

As with many activities, this one becomes all the richer when the children actually do the activity. You could try all three competitions with your family.


Key questions

Who do you think will win? Why? how do you know?

Is it the highest number of .... or the lowest number? 


Can you put the results in order to see who came first, second and third?

Was it a fair competition? Why?


Possible extension

The children could try the competitions for themselves and order the results for the whole group. They could then identify who the gold, silver and bronze medal winners would be.

They could also look at some real results from Olympic competitions to find the gold, silver and bronze medal winners. This could contribute to your Olympic display.


Possible support

Some children may need lots of support to make sense of the numbers and what they mean. Focus on a small group of activities where the higher number wins, then change to another where the shorter time wins. Understanding that the lower numbers are better results for some competitions but worse for others is tricky and will need a lot of work on the sense making aspects of the situation.



Before every Olympics there is an Olympic torch relay.  This is where a torch bearer (the person holding the torch) carries it around the country where the next Olympics is going to take place.  There were 8000 torch bearers for the London 2012.  This is a map of the route it followed.  Can you spot five places that the torch traveled to?