Sequencing may seem obvious to adults but for young students, it can be challenging to master. Teaching sequencing is vital because sequencing taps into higher-order thinking skills and helps our students more fully comprehend what they are reading. As our little learners make the transition from decoding to comprehension it becomes more important that they understand sequencing.
Teaching the Basics of Sequencing
Teaching sequencing should start with asking the question, “what is sequencing?” Tell students that it is simply putting things in order. Easy hand motions can be incorporated into this definition to help students remember the meaning of “sequencing.” Their hands can move along as if miming “first this, then this, then this” to go with the rhythm of the chant. Having motions to go with their chanted definition helps your kinesthetic learners. Ask your students to break the word “sequencing” into its syllables and move their hands along with the syllables like a little chant, “Se. Quence. Ing. Put. Things. In. Or. Der.” It’s no secret that young learners love chants and motions. They are an excellent way to keep those definitions in the minds of your students.
First things first, talk to your students about why sequence matters! The YouTube video below gives some great examples of what would happen in a world without sequences. Watch the video with your students and stop throughout the video to discuss all the craziness and confusion that would exist if we didn’t have sequences. Your students will love talking about how silly the world would be if we didn’t follow the correct order for everyday things like- making food, counting, and days of the week. Ask them to come up with some examples of the problems that might come up if we didn’t do things in the right order.
Now that students know WHY we care about sequencing it’s time for them to do it! Using numbers or pictures makes sequencing feel more concrete to students. Puzzles, like these Math Puzzles, can make teaching sequencing easier. First, students understand what sequencing is. Then, they can apply it to reading fiction and nonfiction text.
After using math puzzles, try sequencing without any text or numbers! Print a set of the Toothy Sequencing cards found in the Fiction Toothy Pack and ask students to put sets of images in order. This is a great open-ended way to get students thinking about the order of events. Since this is strategy is open-ended it lends itself well to reflect on the question: Is this reasonable? Asking students to defend their work makes them slow down and think through it more carefully.
Teaching Sequencing Using Fiction
After students understand what sequencing is, it’s time to use text. First, model the skill for your students. Use a piece of text from your curriculum, a book from your library, or play a video story for them. Storyline Online has great (and free) read alouds without any of those pesky YouTube ads. As a class, review the events of the story. Discuss how confusing the story would be if you told it to someone out of order. Then, model drawing or writing the sequence of events for your students.
Modeling can be done using pictures, like the ones found in the printable Toothy Sequencing mats that were mentioned above, drawings, or it can be done in writing.
Teaching Sequencing Using Transitions
If you’re asking students to write about the sequence of events this would be a good time to incorporate transitions. We all know that the more students write the easier it gets for them. Building automaticity and fluency is so important at this age. Teaching sequencing and reviewing transitions go hand in hand. Ask your students to tell you the events of the story using:
Increasing the Complexity
Now that students have the basics, it’s time to move into slightly more challenging terrain. Scaffolding while teaching sequencing is important to student understanding and success. It’s time to introduce text with short answer questions! Have you seen Lucky Little Learners Moral and Summarizing Reading Passages? They are perfect for this! Students read a short passage of text and are asked sequencing questions like:
- What happened first in the story?
- What happens in the middle?
- How did the story end?
With these passages, students get a low-pressure way to apply their sequencing knowledge. Additionally, there are 3 reading levels for each passage for easy differentiation. With three different reading levels, students can focus less on decoding and more on comprehension. When students are answering sequencing questions they should be encouraged to go back into the text and find evidence to support their answer.
Teaching Sequencing Using Nonfiction Text
Teaching sequencing with nonfiction writing is no different than fiction and in some cases can be easier for students to understand. Start by helping your students understand why sequencing nonfiction events is important. This is a great time to tie in your own social studies or science curriculum. Students can practice sequencing the events of an experiment done during science instruction. They can create a timeline sequencing the life events of important people in history. Both of these activities hit important social studies and science standards.
If you don’t have your own social studies curriculum to refer to, Lucky Little Learners has great recommendations for books about amazing women. These can be used specifically during Women’s History Month or throughout your school year!
A great resource for targeted nonfiction sequencing practice is the 2nd Grade Sequencing NF Reading Passages. Just like the Moral and Summarizing passages they are differentiated to make them accessible to all of your learners. Just print and practice!
Teaching sequencing is so important for our students. It helps them comprehend what they are reading. As our students transition into “reading to learn” comprehension skills become more and more valuable.
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