By Cindy Price, First-Grade Teacher, Guest Blogger
As our children go through the various stages of their lives, education, and day-by-day activities, sequencing is a significant part of it all. Sequencing is a fundamental skill and an important concept that students must learn and master. It is our responsibility, as teachers, to provide them with many opportunities and activities to master this concept.
Cognitive and Language Functions
By understanding sequencing, children learn important skills:
- finding and identifying patterns
- comprehending what they are reading
- performing everyday tasks
- helping make the world understandable and predictable
Problem solving is an area of cognitive function that all students must master to be successful. Students can attain this skill through sequencing. Through sequencing, they learn that problems and activities need to be completed in steps, learning to look for patterns that may help.
A child's language is another area affected by sequencing. As with everything else, language is learned sequentially. First letters, then sound, before learning to blend the sounds into words, transferring that knowledge into reading words, sentences, and, ultimately, stories.
Language and problem solving are both challenging areas for students to learn and develop. Both areas can be mastered through time, patience, and practice. We, as educators, must provide our students with many opportunities to learn and practice sequencing skills to aid this process of mastery.
My Classroom Experience
Over my twenty-three years in teaching, I have taught many students problem solving and sequential skills. It has not always been an easy task because although students can read or complete a math problem, that does not mean they can necessarily sequence.
One of the most challenging things for students to learn is the language of sequencing. They have to learn which words they can use when sequencing and the order in which those words go. Some sequencing words that often confuse my students are first, next, then, and finally—they tend to mix up the order of these.
To help them with this, I demonstrate putting the words in order, then I use them as much as possible and do many retelling activities that include them. I make sure to use these words during all the subject areas I cover throughout the day.
Here are some other methods to teach sequencing in the classroom:
1. Songs: One activity I like to do to remind us of the order of the sequencing words is to sing a song. The song I wrote and use is below. It should be sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques.”
Tell a story, solve a problem, teach a friend, write a how-to
First, next, then, last, First next, then, last
Are the words we use, the words we use.
2. Story Retelling: Have your kids retell the stories they hear weekly. It is a skill that needs to be practiced until it is fully internalized. When they are performing a retelling, strongly encourage them to use the appropriate words. It is through modeling and practice that they become successful. They can retell the story through words, pictures, or writing.
Read a story to your kids (or have them read independently) first. Then provide them with pictures to put in the correct order to retell the story; this will allow them to experience success with the retelling process. After they can do this with several different stories, have them retell a story using their own pictures and words. Always make sure they focus on the correct language and the order of the transition words.
When teaching sequencing, remember: for the best results, start slow. This will allow students to get used to using the language at a moderate pace and give them a chance to feel success early on while sequencing. We want them to feel successful, not frustrated.
Ice Fishing is one of my favorite books to use when teaching students to sequence. The story is told so that it is easy for the reader to put the story in sequential order. It can be used both to put the story in order and to teach the students about ice fishing, showing the steps through the illustrations and the writing. This story is also an easy read for many of your students. If you have students in the earliest stages of learning to sequence, create the pictures for students to put in the correct order, and have students refer to them when retelling their story.
3. Teach a Friend: Have students think of things they can make or do, such as making their beds or making a sandwich. Have them draw the steps with the correct transition words. Then have them teach a friend how to do the activity. Make sure you model this activity. Modeling is very important so they will have had an example of the correct way to sequence their steps and teach their friend
When I have them teach a friend, I always use the Snow Fun. I begin by showing them the pictures first, then I match them to the correct transition word before writing down the steps. I then partner my students and let them begin the activity, having provided them with a model to refer to.
4. Predictable Patterns: These are occurrences that happen over and over again. Teach them about the seasons and their order, the water cycle, or how things are made or formed. All About Snow, from Hameray's STEM Explorations series, is a great choice for teaching patterns through words and illustrations of how snow is formed.
5. Life Cycles: Kids love to learn about animals! I love to use Hameray's nonfiction series, Zoozoo Animal World, to teach kids about various animals' life cycles.
6. Timelines: Timelines are an excellent way to teach sequencing. Show the students that all timelines have a beginning and an end. What is great about timelines is that they can be centered on your kids. Have your kiddos trace their own timelines, from the beginning to the present. After they have created their own timelines, have them share with a fellow student, encouraging them to use transition words.
We teach many vital skills in the classroom. Many vital skills are dependent on other, more basic, skills for the students’ success. Sequencing is one of those basic skills—once the students have mastered it, they can understand and develop many other necessary skills such as inferring and reasoning. Sequencing helps our students become problem solvers, as well as better readers and writers.
This is a guest blog post by Cindy Price, a first-grade teacher from Delaware. If you like what you read here, take a look at her blog at Mrs. Price's Kindergators, and be sure to check back here for more of her guest blog posts!