Cooperative Teamwork Exercise: Sort the Cards

Cooperative Teamwork Exercise: Sort the Cards


You can use this exercise to explore teamwork, leadership and the ability to work under pressure and cooperatively to solve a problem.


Sort a deck of cards cooperatively as quickly as you can.

What You Need

  • 2 or 3 decks of playing cards for each group of 3.
  • Prize


  • Divide the delegates to groups of 3.
  • Distribute 2 or 3 decks of cards to each group.
  • Ask teams to shuffle all their cards together as well as they can.
  • Explain that the objective is to sort the cards by placing them face up on the table as quickly as they can. You can use Poker rules for sorting the cards based on their value or simply sort them based on the image shown above.
  • The team who finishes first without any mistakes is the winner.
  • Give the prize to the winning group and ask them to explain the secret to their success. A winning team usually exhibits good teamwork. The team might nominate a leader which would then assign tasks and coordinates the activities of the team. Better communication among the team also significantly helps the outcome.
  • If most teams performed poorly, you can repeat the exercise after briefing them about leadership and improved communication. This time you can expect them to sort the cards faster and more efficiently.
  • Follow with a discussion.


Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes

Activity: 15 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes


Did you do well as a team? Did you nominate a leader, or a leader emerged in your team? What techniques did you use to improve your performance? What was the effect of group moral and acceptance of leadership to the outcome of your task? What did you learn about teamwork in this exercise and how would you plan to apply it to your world?


Instead of cards you can give other types of equally challenging tasks. For example you can give the teams a jigsaw puzzle to complete together.



V.S. Johney

By V.S. Johney @ Tuesday, May 17, 2011 1:56 PM

I have found some useful training materials.

Than you so much


By D.Hunter @ Wednesday, July 18, 2012 3:23 AM

Cooperative team work sort the cards. Instructions say for each group to shuffle 3 decks of cards together then sort them. Are they sorted by decks and card suit/number or just card number/suit. Do you end up with 12 rows of 13 cards or 3 rows of 13 piles of 3 cards?

Ehsan Honary

By Ehsan Honary @ Wednesday, July 18, 2012 9:56 AM

Good question. You end up with 12 rows of 13 cards. In general the choice for the target pattern is open and up to you as your aim is simply to challenge a group to complete a task quickly and with teamwork. You can choose a more complicated pattern should you wish to make the task more difficult and observe how teams deal with frustration.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The Most Similar Exercises & Articles to this in Order of Similarity Are:

Team Building Exercise: Leaky Pipes
Team Building Exercise: Sort the Cards
Team Building Exercise: Capture the Dragon
The House of Ropes Team Building Exercise
Caterpillar Traverse
Team Building Exercise: Snakes and Plates

Training Resources for You

Course Design Strategy

Course Design Strategy

Available as paperback and ebook

Training Resources

Free Training Resources

Download a free comprehensive training package including training guidelines, soft skills training activities, assessment forms and useful training resources that you can use to enhance your courses.

Body Language Guide

Our Comprehensive Guide to Body Language

Train the Trainer Guides

Train the Trainer Resources

Get Insights - Read Guides and Books - Attend Courses

Training Materials

Get downloadable training materials on: Management Training, Personal Development, Interpersonal Development, Human Resources, and Sales & Marketing

Browse Full Product Catalogue About Training Materials