How to teach the reading element: sequencing

Many of you have been reading my articles for some time and you know how much I emphasize teaching with the child in mind. But for those of you who are not familiar with my articles: Workbooks are fine for reinforcing what the student already knows, but they are not very effective for teaching new concepts. Forcing children to learn with ineffective methods is like trying to fit round pegs into square holes. You waste a lot of your time and theirs.

The most successful methods are those that listen to the child and adjust accordingly. Sequencing is one of the few elements of reading comprehension that I recommend teaching kindergarten students, and there are several fun and easy ways to do it. Studies show that young children learn best while playing. Using the game to teach is very simple and yet very effective. Here are some examples.

Begin by explaining to the child that sequencing means putting a story in the order that things happened. For example, you could say, “If I told you to put the milk in the refrigerator, would you walk to the refrigerator before picking up the milk?” Ask them, “why not?” “So sequencing means telling a story in the exact order it happened.”

I. Activity one (can also be done with preschoolers)

A. Take the child for a walk pointing out important markers as you go (example: large tree, stop sign, green house, ext.). Have your child help you find the way back by pointing to the markers in reverse order.

B. Once you return to your starting point, talk with the child about how important it is to notice the markers in the correct order to protect us from getting lost.

C. Ask them to draw and color pictures of the landmarks and put them in sequential order.

D. One may have to repeat this several times before the child actually develops the brain patterns to complete this task efficiently. However, “practical learners” (50% of the population) often surprise us by the speed and precision with which they master this activity.

II. Possible extra activity (note: for homeschooling families, this activity can be done in a cooperative setting).

A. After completing an activity, such as a field trip or baking a cake, have each child draw and color pictures of different parts of that event. It is important to tell each child what you want them to draw their picture about and be sure not to assign more than one child to draw that picture. Then have each of them come to the front of the room holding their photos and saying what it is about. (You may have to remind the younger ones.) You will need to make sure that the order is not in the correct sequence at this point. The reason becomes clear in the next step.

B. Now ask the children to put the pictures in sequential order. Discuss as the activity progresses. If they’re wrong, no problem … just recap the story in the wrong order. Ask them what is wrong with what we see here and how they would fix it. Example: “If we put the cake in the oven before adding the eggs, what would happen?” When they do any of these activities correctly, give high praise.

III. Activity two (this is especially good because it also teaches general reading comprehension)

A. Have the child (or children, as appropriate) read an early-reading book to you. As each page is read, have your child operate one puppet and you the other as you reenact the story together.

B. You will have made copies of each page in advance, not including all page numbers in those copies.

C. Next, ask the child to put the copies of the pages in the correct order. If they’re wrong, no problem … just recap the story in the order the child presents it and ask them what’s wrong with this story and how they should rearrange the pages. At this point that’s fine, but they don’t need to have everything in the same order as the book … it’s just in a logical order.

D. Remind the child how important it was to remember the exact order in which the dirt marks occurred in order to find their way back (activity I above). Make sure to praise all the successes along with the corrections. Teaching with the child in mind is fun and very easy.

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