Category : Sequencing


Hands-on Learning Games: Help Your Child Learn to Sequence

Looking to help your child improve his sequencing skills? Here is a fun hands-on learning game that will improve your child's skills using their favorite children's songs.

Why is sequencing important anyway?

Helping your child learn to sequence is important for several reasons. First of all, sequencing allows your child to manage his time effectively, and helps him see the relationship between actions and consequences. A child who has difficulty in this area will be consistently "time challenged."

They will be late to school, late coming home, or will take longer than necessary to complete an assignment because they are unable to estimate how much time something should take.

Strong sequencing skills allows him to communicate meaningfully with others, whether it is with words, sentences, or paragraphs. Children who are weak in this area will start a joke with the punchline. Their stories will be jumbled and difficult to understand because they find it difficult to present events in the order in which they occurred.

Good sequencing skills also means your child will be able to make a better connection between his actions and the consequences that naturally follow. Children with weak sequencing skills will sometimes appear as if they never learn from their mistakes. Despite warnings, threats, and punishments, they seem intent on repeating the same ineffective behaviors time and time again.

By playing this hands-on learning game with your child, you will find both your child's ability to learn and his behavior will show an improvement.


For this game you will use songs which use sequencing, plus you will need to make pictures to go along with them. For children under 5, or more challenged children, try Raffi's "Brown bear." For children 5 and up, try Fred Koch's "I had a rooster," or "Today is Monday."

More advanced children can try "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly." Any song that uses a sequence of objects, and is easy to understand, can be used.

You will need to write down in order all of the objects that are named, and find clear pictures for each one. Each picture should not be smaller in size than a playing card. Each picture should also be on a separate piece of paper. You can laminate each picture or print it out on card stock for durability.

How to play:

Listen to the song once with your child in order to help familiarize her with the song. As each item is mentioned, lay it in front of your child. Most of the songs add a new item, and then repeat the previous ones. When this occurs, your child should point to each object in order.
For example, in "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly," by the time you get to the cat, you will have in front of you a fly, spider, bird, and the cat. You will add the cat when the singer sings it, and then you will point to the cat, the bird, the spider, and the fly. After you've done it once, let your child try it out. Here are some variations on the game you can use to make this game harder or easier:

    • To make the game harder, do not use pictures, but ask your child to tell you the names of the animals, forwards and backwards. You can make it easier for him by giving him a hint-the first letter of each word.


  • To make it easier, let your child sequence the pictures as the song is being sung. You can stop the song to give your child time to lay out the picture. You can make it slightly harder by asking your child to sequence the animals after they've heard the song.



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Learning the Alphabet: What to do when your child has trouble learning their ABC’s


My youngest started learning the alphabet a few weeks ago, and within the first week I realized how difficult it is for him.

I've been on the lookout since he was a baby for language issues, ever since I noticed he had great difficulty making eye contact with others. Although I initially put it down to age and perhaps developmental immaturity, as he got older it was hard to ignore the fact that he would spend some of his time staring into space, looking completely out of touch with the world around him.

That behavior, combined with non-stop crying in his early months, did worry me. He already has two siblings with language issues - one mild, that eventually resolved itself after a bit of intensive work in the early years, and one severe.

Since he related well to others (he's a very loving boy) I knew it couldn't be PDD, but was most likely a language processing disorder. I figured out that the extreme crying was due to allergies - not too difficult when your nursing infant breaks out immediately after you eat a forbidden food. I also delayed some of his shots, however controversial it may be.

(My 8 year old had a moderate reaction after the MMR, and afterwards it was obvious that he'd forgotten a ton of stuff. Before the shot, at 14 months old, he could count up to 10, knew all the names of every external body part, knew all of his colors, both primary and secondary- you get the idea. Afterwards, he couldn't remember anything. I had to teach him everything again, and though he's very bright, he's never regained that level of brilliance).

As time passed I also realized he had some sensory issues, which in addition to the language issues probably caused him to blank out. I created a sensory program for him, which took care of that.

But I was still worried about the future. Fortunately, I had great success with a special program I created to improve language skills. You can find examples of these games here and here - though not the full program- on this site. I started wondering if I could create a baby version of the program for him. He'd already spent a lot of time sitting on my lap while I worked with clients, and so he was already familiar with what to do. I played around with the program, and voila! I saw an dramatic change in his behavior within a few weeks.

We completed everything up until the last level, and boy am I thankful I did! I can just imagine where he would be if I hadn't...

But of course he's still having trouble with learning his ABC's, so I invested some thinking cap time while doing dishes, and this is what I mulled over:

Generally when kids have trouble learning their alphabet, there are a couple reasons why:

1) Poor auditory memory- they can't remember what they hear. So even though you may have learned the letter b five times in a row, the info doesn't make it into your child's long-term memory. I knew this couldn't be the problem, because we'd already completed the level of the program that works on this.

2) Poor visual memory - a lot less common that the first. Basically it means your child doesn't remember what he sees. Also not possible, since the level he completed covers this as well.

3) Failure to converge the eyes, or other visual processing issues. I have seen this in a significant number of children, and I suspect it's something we'll have to get checked out at some point. Unfortunately, you can't start working with children with these issues until they are about 6 or 7. So while we're checking out glasses, and intensive intervention on this will probably have to wait.

4) Inability to connect the sound if the letter with the visual symbol. This is different than number 1. It's actually a sequencing issue. Bingo - I knew then this was his problem. This was of course the last level that I hadn't yet done with him :(.

So I guess it's back to the drawing board. I'll be spending the next few weeks rewriting this level of the program (originally designed for 6 years and up) for tiny tots.

But for those of you who'd like to get a peek at what we'll be doing, here's one of the first activities we've done:


Who Are You?

The book "Who are you?" by Stella Blackstone

Black and white copies (or color if you want to splurge) of each of the animals listed in the book, plus one of the little boy at the end.

About this game:

In this game, you'll ask your child to repeat back to you the names of the animals in the  book, in order. You also want your preschooler to be able to pair the rhyming animals together: for example, cat and bat, and whale and snail.

This book is a favorite in our house; we've had it for about 7 years and every child that's come through has enjoyed it.

It's also perfect for practicing sequencing skills:

First of all, the pictures are simple, clear, and boldly done.

Second, the repetitive nature of it makes it easy for young children , even those with special needs, to remember.

Third, there's a picture hint on each page, such as the tail of the cat or the head of the bat, that serve as visual clues that help your child remember each animal. And lastly, the rhyming words help your child remember pairs of animals.

How to play:

1. Read the book to your child, pointing out the pictures of each animal as you go along. Make sure your child becomes familiar with the names of the animals. It's okay if he doesn't know the names of all of them (they are all fairly common, except for bat) - he'll learn.

2. Be sure to point out the picture hint on each page. It's located on the page that says,"Who are you?" and gives your child a clue of what animal is on the next page.

3. Now take out the cut-outs of the animals. Read the book again with your child, at an easygoing pace. As you name an animal, place it's cut-out in front your child. Be sure to put pairs of animals together.

4. When you've completed 2 pairs (4 animals), put the book aside. Name the animals in the cut-out pictures, and then mix them up.

5. Say to your child, "Uh-oh! I mixed it up. Can you fix it?" If your child has trouble, give them a hint by making the sound of the animal, or saying part of the word.

6. Continue reading the book, stopping after every pair to rearrange the pictures, and asking your child to fix them.

TIPS: You should play this game at least twice, preferably three times, with the third session taking place a few days after the second.

If this was too easy for your child, increase the number of pictures he has to reorganize at one time. You could try having him do 4 at a time, for example. Or, you could get rid of the cut-out pictures altogether, and let your child name the animals for you after you close the book.

Again, you could have them name either 2 pairs, or 3, depending on how they do. You could name one animal, and have them name the one that rhymes with it.

If this is too hard for your child: Make two copies of the cut-out pictures, and have your child match one set to the second set. Or, they can match the cut-out pictures to the ones in the book.

Good luck, and have fun!


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Free Picture Daily Schedule for Your 3-6 Year Old -Hands on Learning

Free daily schedule

Click here for your free daily schedule

Transitioning from a carefree summer to the more scheduled school day can be difficult for many children with special needs.

Usually when we need to face a potentially upsetting experience, we picture in our minds exactly what might happen. We imagine the various possibilities, rejecting some, and changing others.

Many children with special needs have trouble with the ability to picture things in their minds. They can't imagine what could go wrong, and therefore are unable to make plans to prevent disaster from occurring.

The other problem children with special needs often have is an unawareness of time, which is a sequencing issue. Their internal clock is often running faster or slower than the rest of the world. Hence you have the child who is always late, or the preschooler who constantly asks when the next activity will be. The former's internal body clock is slower than everyone else, while the latter's is too fast.

You probably know already that using a daily schedule can help your child adjust and anticipate to new situations. Since I know it can sometimes be a pain in the neck to organize one, I've downloaded one from Boardmaker® for you to use - for free.

TIP: You can enlarge the squares if you want, laminate, and put Velcro on the back of each card. Hang up a square of carpet (you can often get a sample free from a carpet store), and put the cards on the carpet.

If you get a light colored piece of carpet with no nap, you can draw boxes with permanent marker so your child will know where to place each square.

Before school starts, let your child practice sequencing the cards in their proper order. Start with 3 cards at a time, adding one additional card each time.

This way by the time school starts, your child will have a clear picture of what will happen during the day.

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