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Sequence: Guiding A Child's Rational Thinking process

Updated on January 17, 2014

Stories Have a Purpose

“When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own.” —John Berger, author

“Stories you read when you're the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you'll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.” —Neil, Gaiman, M Is For Magic

And a bit of humor:

“Hold it. You know what I'd like to see? I'd like to see the three bears eat the three little pigs, and then the bears join up with the big bad wolf and eat Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood! Tell me a story like that, OK?” —Bill Watterson, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

Read Me a Story

Bedtime stories are wonderful for getting your child to bed on time without a fuss. When my son was three, we had a ritual: simple snack, brush teeth, bath, story, bed. And, in that order. If we deviated from this pattern, it would cause a delay in getting much needed rest (for the parent!).

If you have kids, then you are most likely reading one or two favorite books every night. Our son loved Kojo, the Fire-eating Dragon. I could recite this book by heart, complete with dramatic emphasis and facial expressions to enhance the details. Yes, it was told over and over and over for an entire year. Now, you also know that if you miss out on a small detail, in order to shorten the story time, your sweet offspring will most certainly let you know. You cannot skip pages — we are talking about major consequences when this happens!

You see, your son or daughter has developed a familiarity with this story and knows the sequence quite well. Each piece of the tale, each event, is vital to his or her order of thinking and reasoning which leads to a happy forever-after ending. As Brenda Strickland, author of Year Round Preschool Reading, puts it "teaching sequencing to early learners is important because logical order of thinking is fundamental to reading and everyday life.

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A Favorite Book with Children

Test Your Sequencing Skill

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What is sequencing?

For the purposes of this article, sequencing is defined as the process of placing ideas, objects, and details in a logical order or pattern of logic. It is fundamental to understanding how events occur and a precondition to problem solving.

Children may find sequencing difficult to comprehend, it is evident as they retell a story or incident. They find retelling a story, exactly as told, complicated. Educators use books and material to help a child grasp the concept of sequencing. The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a popular book with teachers because it follows the life cycle of a caterpillar; and, through fun interactive photos and activities predictable life events establish sequential patterns. Similarly, parents can use books, toys, and other manipulatives to teach their child how to acquire the skill of order and logic in play and reasoning.

Familiar stories such as The Three Bears, Daniel In The Lion's Den, and The Gingerbread Man help children establish a series of events which encourage them to think sequentially. As they listen they become familiar with the regularity of the tale and establish a predictable pattern of comprehension. It is an unconscious device the mind uses to make sense of the world around it. Structure is comforting to children.

So How Does Rational Thinking Connect Here?

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, rational means to make decisions based upon fact or reasons and not merely upon emotion or feelings. It is the ability to process events and ideas clearly. The ability to think rationally is a normative function linked to a person's belief as to how things behave or operate. It is most advantageous in making decisions, reaching goals and problem solving.

Keep in mind that we are human. We make mistakes. Even with the most practiced rational thinking, we make errors. As Mr. Spoke of Star Trek, a character of logic, once said, "After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true." However, the ability to process information with good reasoning improves our success rate and lessons our errors.

As a child establishes the skill of sequencing, it forms a model for observing, defining, formulating, and solving problems. The rationality of the model draws from established facts available for implementation. In other words, things should fall into place based upon experience. It is logical!

Predictability in sequencing leads to establishing a rational for what comes next.
Predictability in sequencing leads to establishing a rational for what comes next. | Source

Telling a Story

Use sequence cards to help a child connect with pattern of events.
Use sequence cards to help a child connect with pattern of events. | Source

Funny Story-Retell Quotes

Why Daniel was thrown into the lion's den.

His hunting was hurting the lion population. A nature group told on him. Sondra, Age 7

He said the emperor wasn't wearing any clothes. Bobby, age 8

The advice the King gave Daniel as he was placed in the lion's den.

Just hope they already ate dinner. Ethan, age 7

Your best chance is if you tell the lions jokes...they have a good sense of humor. Lori Ann, age 8

Things God did to Insure Daniel's safety.

God kept the lions away from Daniel by showing them pictures of girl lions. Andrew, age 12

I think he made the lions like kitty cats by closing their mouths...all they could do was say "meow".

Excerpts from Just Build the Ark and the Animals Will Come by David Heller

How to Build Your Child's Sequencing Skill

Story time

Tell a new story to your child. Use simple words and tell it with excitement. Stop at key stages and ask your child to predict what wil happen next. For example, in "Daniel and The Lion's Den", ask what she thinks will happen after Daniel is thrown into the pit? The answer may vary from the real story, but you can talk about the possibility and then continue. After you have told the story several times, you can ask your child to tell you what is going to happen next as you read. Perhaps you can have them tell you the story, but don't interrupt if he adds to the story or changes some details for flavor.


Make sequence cards to go with a story. You can also have your child draw cards, add stickers for fun, or cut-outs from magazines to show key story details. After telling the story, have her retell the story using the cards. An alternative method is to mix up the cards and have her arrange them sequentially. This is a great way to talk about beginning, middle and end of story concepts.

Pretend Play

Have your child act out a story or book with puppets, props, toys, or with a special dance. Have them pretend to make a sandwich with you. Talk about the order of placement of each item. For example, first you get a slice of bread, then you spread some peanut butter on top, next you add some jelly, and finish it with another slice of bread. The next time, have your child repeat the steps on his own.

Giving Directions

Ask your child how to make something simple. This can be done with modeling clay such as play doh. As you discuss the item, write down the directions or draw them. This will help them understand order in a process. You can also ask them to tell you where to turn on a familiar route, such as the ride to school or a trip to the grocery store, "Should I turn here?"


Children love to sing and the use of music helps establish a predictable pattern as they memorize the words and actions. A popular song is Old MacDonald. Can you remember how much you loved to add animals to the farm? It is a fun way to teach the concept. I'm sure you can think of other songs to use in teaching sequence, or improvise an old one.

Sequencing is such an important skill and helping your child grasp the concept early in life will help her or him to establish good rational thinking processes. Look for opportunities in every day life to teach order of items, steps in making things, and to give directions. I find reading to open up a young mind to sequential processes fun and the most effective method; but, be creative and you may be surprised how quickly your child will catch on to this concept.

© 2014 Dianna Mendez


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Snerfu, thanks for the support. I love watching children learn the steps to sequencing. It is such an important step to understanding math and reading.

      Suzette, sequencing starts at an early age and if a parent helps children learn this pattern of thinking - they will see positive results in reading and math. Thanks for the feedback and visit.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Excellent hub on sequencing. This is such an important concept for children to learn. Your ideas and suggestions are spot on and I enjoyed reading this. I always find children under 5 amazing when they can tell the entire story in the right sequence. Kudos to you on your great ideas.

    • snerfu profile image

      Vivian Sudhir 3 years ago from Madurai, India

      Very interesting article about a child's learning curve. Good to read and easy to follow -- voted up and tweeted.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Jyoti, your comment is appreciated. Hope your day is going well. Thanks for sharing this post.

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 3 years ago from Jaipur

      Excellent. Rated up! Shared in H+

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Glad you came by today, Suzanne. Your visit means much to me. Take care and stay well.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 4 years ago from Texas

      Great points and so true! Voted up, useful and interesting! :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Crafty, you sure are a creative parent and your efforts surely paid off for everyone!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Avian, this is so late but "thanks" for your visit and support. Order is so important to a child's understanding of life in general.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      When my children were smaller, we had so much fun with pretend play. Then when they started reading, I would make up picture cards they could arrange in proper sequence out of their favorite stories.

      I thoroughly enjoyed your article!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Sounds like a great way to teach order in a young life. It will go far as a basis.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      When you teach through fun games, the learning quickly takes place. Yes, it will turn into skills helping them to become successful leaders. Thank you, Dolores.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

      There are some young mothers that find spending time with their young kids boring. But if you add some of these educational insights into the day in the form of play, time spent with little kids can be so much fun. It's an investment into their future! (voted up and tweeted)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Eddy, good to have your visit. I hope you are enjoying a good day.

      Rebecca, I always appreciate your valued feedback. Enjoy your weekend.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      What a great article on helping children develop thinking skills. Sequencing is so important in many areas, from reading to math. Your video is great, and it gives this article a lot of uniqueness. Voted awesome and shared!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      What a wonderfully interesting hub Dianna ;loved it and wishing you a great day.


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hello, Ben. I am glad to hear how your son is learning sequencing through his bedtime ritual. It is a great way to learn patterns and structure. I appreciate your feedback. Enjoy your weekend!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 4 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Very informative, great insight into sequencing, I've never quite heard rational thinking/critical thinking addressed for children before. It makes so much sense. I have a tendency to mix things up, our three year old sons routine, bedtime, book reading, etc. My wife is more rigid about the routine. I like the pointers you gave about trying different angles with book reading, using cards, and creating things.


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Midget, sequencing is so important in story telling. I remember how much emphasis my second grade teacher put upon it as we learned to read. It was so helpful to my comprehension.

      B. Malin, yes, education is lifechanging! Good to hear your response to this topic. Be well and safe.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 4 years ago

      So Interesting Teacher...and you always are teaching...and we are always learning from one another...and our children learn from us, and hopefully pass it on. I so enjoyed the video as well...Education is alive and well.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Story telling generates knowledge of plot! Great for sequencing!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Egamboa, thanks for your interest of the topic. I appreciate your support.

      Denise, sounds like your children were blessed by your instruction in education and are passing it on. Yes, it is sad that many others do not have this early mentoring. Enjoy your week and keep warm up there.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      It is fascinating how children are able to pick up on sequences! When our children were young, they easily memorized stories and were able to "read" them to their younger siblings. Now that they have children of their own, they spend time reading to them as we did when they were young. I am amazed at how this makes such a big difference to children. Many that I observed in the school setting didn't have this in their lives, and they were sorely lacking in important skills!

    • EGamboa profile image

      Eileen Gamboa 4 years ago from West Palm Beach

      I wish I had read this when my children were younger. Wonderful information.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Genna, it's a difficult concept to grasp for children. Using a variety of methods is useful to each the different learning styles. Great add to the content!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hello, Linda! Aren't we all a work in process? I know I have lots to learn yet! Fun to see you here, dear lady.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Great to have your notes of encouragement, Cyndi. Have a wonderful week!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Martie, you have me smiling. Have a great week, dear friend.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Excellent hub! Teaching “sequence thinking” can be challenging as the thought process in terms of learning can be different for each child. For example, rote versus spatial. Critical and quantitative thinking is so important, and is a skill that is too often overlooked. Your video is both fascinating and fun! Voted way up and shared. :-)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Awesome advice Teaches! As an adult I'm still working on my own rational thinking process. I exhaust myself! :)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Great advice for parents and teachers alike. :) I just love these kinds of hubs that inform and help people so much with educating their children. And I appreciate you. :)

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      This is a well-presented, informative and encouraging hub about guiding a child's rational thinking process. I feel like starting a nursery just to practise all your advice. Thank you, teaches :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hi Suzanne! Reading is the basic foundation for learning in all other areas. Thanks for your valued opinion. Enjoy your Sunday!

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 4 years ago from Texas

      Very good examples! Yes, reading aloud is key to learning and creates an excellent bond between parent and child. Voted up and useful! :)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hi Alicia! Its always a good to hear from you. I started this post awhile back and finally finished this week. Its a concept I find fun to teach. Hope all is well with you.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is an excellent hub, Dianna. The information and practical advice will be very useful for both parents and teachers. Thank you for sharing your extensive knowledge about educating children in such an interesting article!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Frog, you have me chuckling. I can only imagine how you would do this sequencing with facts today! LOL!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Glimmer, we do teach this skill daily, without knowing it. Every time we interact with children, we sequence some details of life. Using it as a teaching tool will help children grasp this concept for further decision making. Your comment is so right on!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Annart, thanks for your share on this topic. I love that you used this with dyslexic children and it must have really helped tremendously. I think HP has some slow loading issues with videos (or perhaps it's me?). Thanks for the feedback.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Tolovaj, your comment really adds to the subject. We do this concept without thinking every day. You have a great weekend.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Pop, I'm glad to hear how you use brain games to help build skills. I enjoy those so much!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      ChitrangadaSharan, yes, it does require patience for both parent and child. I'll bet your methods were really interesting! Thanks for visiting.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Blond Logic, unfortunately, I think this skill is a lost method in our schools today. I hope parents can pick up on this so that their children are kept ahead of the loop in school.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Yes, this would be very useful to beginning parents. Thanks so much for your valued comment! Enjoy your dayz, Bobbi.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Thanks for coming by, Crystal. Have a great weekend.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Hi Tina! I'm glad you found this useful and interesting. Congrats on your perfect score!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Faith, thanks for your comment and support. Blessings!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Bill, the curriculum in today's schools has changed indeed. It seems the students are being programmed to pass tests. The loss of creative thinking is almost nil.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Suzette, Thanks for the feedback and I know you can relate to the subject well.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      DzyMsLizzy, I love Spock and glad I found something I could post from his quotes. Sequencing is a hard concept to grasp, overall, we usually get our bearings as we age. Enjoyed your visit!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Nell, I'm sure you are a 100% on this quiz, darn that distraction! Interesting that girls did better, but than they do out perform until the boys reach their level during teen years. Great add to the topic.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Okay so where were you when I was a kid? LOL


    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 4 years ago

      This is very interesting teaches. I guess I did sequencing with my daughter when she was younger, but I didn't really realize it at the time. This will be very useful for parents. Pinned.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 years ago from SW England

      I used to do so much sequencing exercises with my dyslexic students; vital for their coping with letters and words and remembering instructions, among other things.

      Sadly, I could hear the video but not see it, but not sure why! However, great hub, full of vital stuff and excellent ideas. Ann

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 4 years ago

      Our brains are so powerful they are always trying to make short-cuts with different tools. Sequencing is only one of them. We are all using it all the time, we are just not aware of this fact. Thanks for beautiful and useful explanation.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 4 years ago

      What a fascinating, useful and fun article! I keep my own mind in shape by joining Lumosity. The brain games are terrific and my grandkids enjoy them as well. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is very interesting and helpful for Teachers as well as Parents.

      Teaching sequencing to children is challenging and requires patience. Applying practical methods and visuals can be very effective in this regard. I remember using some strange methods, to teach these skills to my students and my children.

      Thanks for sharing this helpful hub!

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 years ago from Brazil

      I wish I had read something like this when my kids were young. I think it would have made a difference to my youngest especially.

      I have never really stopped to think about how important it is , until now.

      I agree with Bobbi Purvis, it's one of the best hubs about teaching and parenting I've read.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 4 years ago from Florida


      A great tutorial for teachers just beginning, and for mothers. Teaching children sequencing skills can be fun for both the teacher and students.

      This is one of the best hubs on teaching I have read on HubPages. Great job.

      Bobbi Purvis

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

      A very interesting and helpful hub. Voted up and sharing.

    • profile image

      Tina Truelove 4 years ago

      Well, I already commented, but I accidentally deleted. Here we go again:

      This is one of the most informative articles I have read on the importance of sequencing skills. We are working on penguin activities here and I'm actually looking for penguin sequencing activities now, something new and different. Voting up, useful, pinning - all the good stuff! :)

      Oh, and I made 100% on your quiz!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      How interesting! This is a fascinating read and very insightful. Great topic for a hub. Up and more and sharing. Well done dear lady, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I was thinking of the scientific method while I read this. Critical thinking skills...sequential and rational thinking....all so important at an early age...and sadly this is being forgotten about as the emphasis continues to be on memorizing facts. Well done Dianna.

    • profile image

      suzettenaples 4 years ago

      Interesting, informative, and thought provoking article. I remember teaching sequencing and used similar techniques. Well done and well presented.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Very interesting. My eldest always had trouble with sequencing, and to some extent, still does; she's unable to this day, for example to tell about a movie "in a nutshell." She'll practically give you a play-by-play of the whole movie. So in that sense, she remembers sequence, but, if you give her a set of directions or tasks to be completed and they are not written down, she'll likely only recall the last few steps or tasks.

      She was tested in her grade school days, and they said it was a comprehension problem, not remediable. The solution was to ask, ask, ask questions and for repetitions, and to take notes. However, she was so painfully shy and afraid of ridicule that she would not do that.

      As a devoted "Trekkie," I love Mr. Spock; I find his comment of "Highly illogical!" to be among the most amusing of his takes on human foibles.

      As for the quiz--blah..I only got half. ;-) LOL

      I don't do metrics, so that one stumped me, and I guess those were "books" from the Christian bible? As I'm not a Christian, I'm not familiar with those.

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi teaches this was fascinating and fun, I did the quiz, got 75 percent because I got distracted, typical! lol! its a bit like mensa tests. As for the childs rational thinking process I totally agree, I used to teach Kumon, after school math and English, and we used to do a similar sort of thing with the kids, and the girls just flew away with it! lol! great hub! nell


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