What is sequencing? Sequencing is the term used when engaging in activities to identify and document the relationships of a specific action. According to Empowered Parents, sequencing activities are also known as temporal ordering. This is a mental exercise program that focuses on honing logic and science skills. As an activity, it promotes how to perform more efficiently on an independent level, as well as a member of a team project. It’s easy for children to learn one thing follows another.
Like a routine, kids understand the sequence of eating dinner, brushing their teeth, taking a bath, going to bed, reading a bedtime story, and shutting out the lights for the night. These are sequencing activities where one action is followed after another. There are many awesome sequencing activities for kids that will help them develop important skills so as they get older, they’ll have a better grasp of how to tackle daily challenges, as well as take on the unexpected.
What’s So Special About Sequencing Activities for Kids?
When a child is a preschooler, this is the best time in their life to teach them that life is full of sequences. These events take place all the time, whether they’re fully aware of it or not. When teaching preschoolers in the classroom or at home, helping them understand how sequencing works helps them get a better grasp on how life works. Sequencing is the process of arranging events in the correct order they occur in time. One such sequence is how a person gets dressed. What is the first item that goes on? From there, what’s next?
What’s the last thing the child puts on their body before they consider themselves all dressed up and ready for the day? Furthermore, there are sequencing activities where the form of something changes. For instance, what happens to water when the temperature reaches the freezing point? On the flip side, what happens to ice cubes when they’re sitting in an environment that has a temperature above freezing? While still using water as an example, what comes out of the cloud that makes everything wet? What happens afterward when the clouds go away and the sun comes out?
There’s also the size of something. That’s also sequential. Asking them what comes out of mommy’s tummy at the end of her pregnancy can then lead to what happens to the baby as they get older. What are they called then? Helping your child understand the sequential events involved from a baby turning into a child, then a teenager, and finally an adult, is one good example of how to help them understand how growth works. How about plants? What do they start out as before becoming a flower or a tree?
Understanding how sequences work helps a child develop their cognitive skills, as well as understanding the concept behind matching, pairing, and sorting. They also learn cause and effect when it comes to actions and relationships. Another good example is what happens to someone who is caught doing a bad thing such as stealing? What do the police do when they catch a bad person committing a crime? What happens to that criminal?
Temporal sequencing helps a child develop common sense, which is a vital tool to get through life as an adult that also knows how to exercise discernment and reasoning skills. This broadens their knowledge base, allowing them to reach their full potential as human beings.
Explaining Sequencing to Kids
Much like seriation where items are placed in order according to what the requirements are, the best method to explain to kids about sequencing is to simply ask them what comes next. This will prompt the child to think about what would be the next most social course of action. Simply asking “what comes next?” has the child engage in this sequencing activity that looks for a pattern. So, you can ask them a simple question such as “What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?”
From there, what do they do next? What are all the activities they do before meeting at the breakfast table? Is there any school scheduled for that day? If so, what comes next? If not, what comes next otherwise? While in school, what’s the first activity? From there, what comes next? If there is school scheduled for the day, what’s the first activity done while there? What comes next after that? If it’s a day at home watching cartoon shows on television, which one comes first? What comes next?
1. Alphabet Soup
In a bowl, have each letter from the alphabet placed inside and have the child take each one and lay them out in proper order. From A to Z, this sequencing activity encourages them to do more than just learn the alphabet. It works on their logic skills as they puzzle together how to place each letter in the correct order. If you want, add to this activity by having each child write out each letter in order.
2. Animal Evolution
Kids usually love animals. One great sequencing activity idea for children is to pick their favorite animal and start off with what that animal is called first before becoming an adult. For instance, what does a bird lay once the term of its pregnancy has come to an end? What happens when a bird hatches from its egg? What are they called? When does a chick become old enough to be called a full-grown bird? Aside from birds, what other animals are known for laying eggs?
3. Book Review
After reading a story to your child, encourage them to discuss what happened from the beginning of it to the end. You can also make a game out of it by writing down what happened on different index cards and asking your child to arrange the cards in proper order. Providing your child with an opportunity to recall events in the correct sequence will encourage exploration and discovery. Understanding how sequencing works will also help your child understand story structure. This will also help them develop comprehension and writing skills.
4. Calendar Count
Take an old calendar and take out the pages and mix up the months. Hand the stack of pages to your child and assign them to organize the pages in sequential order from January to December. One way for them to do this is to do the layout on the floor. They’ll need to figure out which month comes first, then second, then onward until the final month is reached.
If you don’t want to tear up an old calendar, grab twelve popsicle sticks and write out the name of each month. You can also elevate this activity by doing more than just covering all twelve months. Each month has its own holiday. What holiday goes with each month? January starts off with New Year’s Day while February is known for Valentine’s Day. What about March? In addition to adding holidays to the equation, there are also other special days such as birthdays.
5. Day By Day
Take all seven days of the week, whether the words themselves are cut out from a magazine or newspaper, and have them mixed up before handing them to the child. Ask the child to lay out each day of the week in proper order. If you wish to add to this sequencing activity, ask your child what do they normally do on that specific day? For instance, what days of the week do they go to school? Is there a special day set aside to watch cartoons? How about going to some kind of activity that doesn’t take place in the classroom or at home?
6. Let’s Get Cooking
One of the best sequencing activities with a kid would be working on a recipe together to make a favorite food item. Even with preschoolers, how about making pancakes together? Kids usually love pancakes, so why not teach them how to make them? And no, you don’t have to necessarily do this from scratch. Even if you just want to use a box where it’s simply mixing the powder and the milk together, it at least shows the child what’s needed to make the batter. If you want this sequencing activity to be more involved with a pancake recipe from scratch, try this one;
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the milk, egg, and oil. Mix thoroughly until you have a smooth batter. With a lightly buttered or oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat, pour or scoop the batter to form a pancake of the preferred size. If you’re working with a preschooler here, go small. Also, there are special tools available now to place the batter inside and drop a perfectly round pancake at the press of a button. After the first side of the pancake has reached a golden brown, flip it with a spatula and do the same for the other.
The cool part about this sequencing activity is you and your child work together to make breakfast. The child learns how to make pancakes and as they get older, will be able to do this on their own. Furthermore, kids love to spend time with a parent that’s paying just as much attention to them as the activity at hand. This is probably one of the best sequencing activities you can possibly do with your child. You’re also teaching them an important life skill at the same time. You’re teaching them how to cook.
7. Mat Man
A sequencing activity such as Mat Man invites a child to build a person by using wood pieces and the mat as a means to build and draw Mat Man from head to toe. This activity not only boosts the child’s sequencing skills but may come to better understand how the body works as they hone in on their rewriting talent.
8. Puzzle It
Puzzles are a favorite pass time for many hobbyists who love to challenge their power of logic as they take each piece, put them together, and work on completing the picture. For kids, this is a great sequencing activity that can start from a simple puzzle with just a few pieces to something more complex as they get older. Jigsaw puzzles have been around a long time and have proven their weight in gold as an educational tool that also happens to be fun.
9. Scientific Discovery
From Reading Rockets, there is a great little book called How Bees Make Honey. If you want to teach your child some science through sequencing activities, use the book as a frame of reference. Work with your child to put the instructional pages in the correct order as you go. Along the way, your child will learn a bit of vocabulary as well.
10. Sequential Storytelling
Kids love to be creative. So, use a sheet of paper and divide it into four large squares. The best approach would be to pick an activity your child is familiar with. Usually, making a sandwich or brushing their teeth are among the most common choices. Bottom line, pick that one activity your child knows well enough to work with. The idea here is to ask your child to draw each step of the activity. Starting with the first square, how does the activity begin? What happens in the second square? The story continues until the final activity is drawn out in the final square.
Sequencing Activities as a Game
Kids love games. When it’s a learning game that’s entertaining, the child receives a double dose of benefits as a result. While having fun, they’re learning at the same time. Have you ever noticed how easy it is for a child to learn a favorite song? They’re usually pretty good at learning dance moves, too. There are so many games you and your preschooler can engage in to help boost their sequencing skills. Even at the newborn stage, kids introduced to sequencing activities benefit long before they learn their first word. When playing “peek-a-boo” with babies, have you noticed most of them usually try to mimic the move? The poem by Dorothy Law Noble, Children Learn What They Live, is an excellent example of sequential activities and what the end results are.
There are excellent games that fully engage in sequencing activities that kids can play. Aside from the activities already listed, there are