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Any parent or teacher of young readers knows that there are numerous aspects to reading instruction, but they all point to one ultimate goal: comprehension. The good news is, a student does not have to be a fluent reader in order to start learning good comprehension strategies. The ever better news is that there is a huge body of research on the best practices for teaching reading comprehension, including this blog’s topic: how to teach sequencing. 

What Sequencing Is & How it Helps Comprehension

Sequencing is the ability to arrange events into a “beginning, middle, and end” when it comes to comprehending a text. Readers who can do this have stronger comprehension of a text than readers who cannot. Whether fiction or nonfiction, most children’s books are narratives, so understanding sequence is important to comprehension from an early age. 

As children get older, sequencing becomes important across all subjects (think word problems in math or the process of mitosis in biology). If you know how to teach sequencing to a student from an early age, they learn to organize information and ideas in a useful and effective manner, then apply that skill to reading.

How to Teach Sequencing Skills With Games


One Word At a Time

This game can be played with just two people or a whole class. The object of the game is to tell a story, but each person can only say one word at a time. The group tries to keep the story going as long as possible.

This way of teaching sequencing helps students develop the basic critical thinking skills of thinking about what logically could come next, as well their “that doesn’t make sense” reaction. And that’s what makes this game so funny. Having the story that sort of makes sense but is very silly keeps students engaged and laughing!

Here’s an example of what this game could look like with 3 people. Person 1 is orange, Person 2 is red, and Person 3 is teal.

One day a big sad firetruck ate a cake. The cake was chocolate and the firefighters loved it but the firetruck ate some and it made his tummy hurt. So the firefighters got the cake out of his engine with the hose and then it felt fine.


The Robot Game

In this game, the teacher becomes a robot who doesn’t know how to do anything! Challenge your student to create accurate instructions for the “robot teacher” to complete basic activities. Try to help students notice if they’ve left out any important steps. You could have them draw pictures, have them dictate to you, or help them write each step. Some activities students could write instructions for include:

  • Making a sandwich, a bowl of cereal or any food that’s pretty simple to prepare
  • Putting on shoes, a jacket, pants, or any clothes
  • Building a sandcastle, block tower, paper airplane, or anything your student likes to construct
  • Setting the table, taking out the trash, cleaning up toys, or any other chores a young student might have at home
  • Playing tag, hide and seek, or any game your student really enjoys


Read and Follow Instructions

A huge reason teaching sequencing matters is that it is how we get value out of informational and instructional texts. Pick a high-interest activity for your student and either find or create instructions to follow. Depending on your student’s reading abilities, you can use words or pictures for the instructions. Here are some ideas:


  • Baking cookies, making a fruit salad, or doing anything that involves following a recipe
  • Building a small Lego set using the pictorial instructions
  • Performing a science experiment
  • Downloading an educational app and following the instructions to create an account
  • Playing tag, hide and seek, or any game your student really enjoys

Encouraging Sequencing During Reading


When we read, most sequencing usually happens after we finish a text. Once your student has completed reading a text, you can help them reconstruct the main events and the order in which they happened.

Introduce Sequence Words

Students need lots of practice with the vocabulary of sequencing. The great thing is, you can incorporate these words into almost any situation. 

For example, a parent could describe a child’s bedtime routine by saying, “First you’re going to have a bath. Then you’re going to put on your pajamas. Next, you’ll brush your teeth. Last, it’s time to get into bed and read a story.” 

Here are some terms to teach to your student so they can use them anytime they need to talk about a story:

Beginning Words

First, to start, at the beginning, began

Middle Words

Next, then, after that, in the middle, later, second (and third and fourth depending on how many steps are in the sequence)

End Words

Last, finally, at the end, concluding, last but not least

Retell Stories Orally

Invite students to practices using their sequencing vocabulary to help you retell a story after reading. You can start off reading to them, so they can really focus on the sequencing. As they become more confident in their reading abilities, you can make sequencing a routine part of reading instruction.

Don’t worry about “giving away the answers” when orally retelling a story with your student. Young readers need modeling and support when they first start sequencing. They are figuring out not only the order in which events happened, but which details in the story were the most important and which ones they can skip when retelling the story.

Story Mapping

 A story map is the next natural step in retelling a story. Once a student can discuss the events in a story, give them a way to write about the events in the story. The idea of a story map is that it creates distinct categories for the student to fill in, like “first,” “next,” “then,” and “last.” There are many free story map templates available online, but here’s the one we use in our PRIDE Reading Curriculum.

Download your free Story Mapping PDF here

Even before children are strong writers and spellers, they can use a story map. They can draw a picture for each event, write some of the key words, and eventually graduate to sentences. From there, they can write more and more complex sentences as well as illustrate their story maps.

Great Books for Sequencing Practice

If you’re looking for some books for read-aloud time to practice sequencing with your students, these three are a great place to start. You probably have at least one of these in you home or classroom library:

Rosie’s Walk

How A House Is Built

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

**Links in these pages are affiliates, and if you go through them to make a purchase, PRIDE will earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these books and products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.**

 tell Stories Orally

There’s More to Comprehension Than Just Sequencing!

Sequencing is a critical skill in reading comprehension. However, any fluent reader knows there is much more to comprehension than just being able to sequence a text. That’s why we’ve chosen to create a four-part blog series and a webinar on how to teach some of the most important comprehension skills. Check out our first-ever webinar below!


Whether your students are just starting to read, struggling to read, or are great at reading but never seems to do as well as they could on comprehension tests, these teaching tips, fun games, reading activities, and videos will help you help your student strengthen their comprehension abilities as they work to develop their other reading skills.

Did you know that PRIDE Reading Program offers a Workbook just for comprehension? It’s designed for students in the Purple or Blue books who could use extra support with sequencing, predicting, visualizing, and inferencing. It’s also a great option for students who are on grade level with reading, but seem to have trouble remembering or discussing what they just read.

Please don’t leave without checking out the PRIDE Reading Program. The PRIDE Reading Program is an Orton-Gillingham curriculum that is used by teachers, tutors, and homeschooling parents worldwide with great success.

PRIDE Reading Program!  

PRIDE Reading Program is a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers, and homeschoolers of struggling readers. The PRIDE curriculum uses research-based best practices to work for students of all ages and various learning modalities, and works for students with numerous learning differences and employs differentiated teaching practices. To learn more, email us at info@pridereadingprogram.com or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com