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Sequencing events in stories
Sequencing events in a logical way is fundamental to writing; and understanding the sequencing of events is fundamental to comprehension.
Choose your grade / topic:
Kindergarten Sequencing Worksheets
Write the steps for the simple processes described (e.g. washing hands).
Grade 1 - Sequencing Worksheets
Write what happened first, next and last.
Grade 2 - Sequencing Worksheets
Write what happened first, second, third and fourth.
Grade 3 - Sequencing Worksheets
Place 4-6 events from texts in order.
Grade 4 - Sequencing Worksheets
Place 6 events from longer texts in sequence.
Grade 5 - Sequencing Worksheets
Sequence 8 events from a text in their natural order.
Sample Sequencing Worksheet
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What is story sequence?
Story sequence is the order in which events take place in a narrative. In simplest terms, sequencing a story means identifying the main narrative components — the beginning, middle, and end—as a first step towards retelling the events of the story in logical order. Story sequencing is also a precursor for more sophisticated ways of understanding narrative text structure, such as determining cause and effect, which students will need to access more complex text.
Why teach story sequence?
- The ability to sequence events in a text is a key comprehension strategy, especially for narrative texts.
- It enables retelling, which in turn enables summarizing.
- It promotes self-monitoring and rereading.
- The ability to place events or steps in logical order is invaluable across the curriculum, whether it’s identifying the steps for solving a math problem or the series of events that led to a turning point in history.
How to teach story sequence
Story sequencing is often introduced and practiced in the context of a whole-class read-aloud. You might choose to teach a standalone sequencing lesson or to include sequencing as part of a longer lesson leading to oral or written retelling of the story.
Read-aloud texts that work well for introducing story sequencing have straightforward narrative arcs and clear sequences of events. Sequencing can also help students make sense of more complex narrative structures, such as stories that are written out of chronological order or that include parallel accounts of the same events from more than one point of view.
There are many ways to structure a sequencing lesson, from creating an anchor chart with student input to having the students participate actively by “holding the pen” or coming to the front of the class to reorder movable pictures or sentence strips.
Watch a demonstration: Greedy Cat: retelling a story sequence (grades K-1)
The teacher explains that asking students to retell stories both orally and in writing helps them structure their retells with a beginning, middle, and an end. The teacher works with students who have difficulty writing independently by having them sound out the words and at times, writes them in for students as needed. Find more teacher tips for this activity here .
Watch a classroom lesson: sequencing with How the Grinch Stole Christmas (grade 2, whole-class)
The teacher reviews sequencing with the class and guides the students through identifying the beginning, middle, and end of a whole-class read-aloud while creating an anchor chart. The lesson uses pair conversations to build student engagement and accountability.
Watch a classroom lesson: sequencing with The Snowy Day (grades K-1, independent work)
Starting with a read-aloud, the teacher introduces the students to a sequencing activity they will be doing independently in which they fill in previously introduced sequencing words and match pictures representing events in the story to the sequencing words. (Watch from 8:09)
Story maps provide one way to help students organize the events from a story. Consider downloading story map template 1 or story map template 2 .
Transition or signal words that indicate a sequence (first, second, last) can help structure a sequencing lesson. Consider downloading Story map template 1 or Story map template 2.
Sequence sticks, story chains, story retelling ropes , and story sequence crafts all help students practice ordering events within a story. See these resources for ideas:
- Sequencing lesson ideas
- Sequencing activities
For English-learners, readers of different ability levels, or students needing extra support, consider:
- Scaffolding instruction by providing prompts for each section of the story map you are using. For example, in the "Beginning" box of your map, write in prompts such as: Who is the story about? Where does the story happen?
- Varying the complexity of story maps and sequencing words used. Some students may benefit from the very simple beginning-middle-end format. More complex sequences, such as first-next-then-last, can be used with students who are ready.
- Using wordless books. There are many wordless books that can be used for sequencing with younger students and with English language learners or students with limited English proficiency. For younger students, Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola, which humorously details a woman making pancakes from scratch, or the wordless adventures by Mark Newgarden about a small dog named Bow-Wow (e.g., Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug ) are good options. Books by Barbara Lehmann and David Weisner are helpful for older or more sophisticated students practicing sequencing.
- Using books in translation for picture sequencing activities. Providing English-learners with a copy of the text in their first language allows them to participate in sequencing and demonstrate their understanding of the concept and the content.
- Modeling sequencing with a smaller group of students using a familiar book with a very clear narrative structure to help students understand each story component.
Extend the learning
Students can use sequencing words and charts to help them write summaries of texts they have read or heard. They can also use sequencing as a pre-writing technique for planning their own writing or use a sequencing word anchor chart as a writing tool.
Most math curricula include worksheets on ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc). You can support students’ sequencing ability by encouraging the use of vocabulary words such as "What bead goes first? Then which bead? Which bead is third?" Encouraging students to write out the steps for solving addition and subtraction problems that include regrouping is an excellent way to have them think through the steps in a logical order.
Scientific inquiry also develops sequencing skills. In order to study or observe changes in something, students must follow along and record, in sequential order, what they notice. Students can document their observations by writing or drawing.
Timelines are a great way to teach sequence in social studies. Students may enjoy making a timeline of their own lives, including important milestones such as when they learned to walk or talk or when they first wrote their name or rode a bike. Once students understand the process of charting important milestones on a timeline, topics from the social studies curricula can be used. Try this printable timeline template .
Other ideas for sequencing
- Arts and crafts activities. Quilt-making and other arts and craft activities may reinforce the idea of sequencing and also introduce math concepts (measurement, addition & subtraction and basic computation, etc). Alex Henderson’s Kids Start Quilting with Alex Anderson: 7 Fun & Easy Projects Quilts for Kids by Kids , Tips for Quilting with Children provides easy instructions for adults quilting with children.
- Cooking. Cookbooks for children can reinforce math concepts (measurement, etc) and sequencing while making connections to students’ reading. The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories by Barbara Walker presents recipes for foods mentioned in the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
- Everyday activities. Create a sequence page for a simple activity around the house or at school. Fold a blank piece of paper into squares. Start with 4 large squares. For older students, create more squares. Ask kids to draw the steps they know in the order in which the steps occur. For example, draw each step it takes to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or to brush their teeth.
- For more graphic organizers that can support story sequencing, see Story Maps
- Summarizing is a natural extension of sequencing and retelling
- Paragraph Shrinking is a more advanced summarizing strategy
- In addition to promoting reading fluency, Reader’s Theater gives students an opportunity to revisit and internalize a story’s sequence of events
See the research that supports this strategy
Moss, B. (2005). Making a case and a place for effective content area literacy instruction in the elementary grades. Reading Teacher , 59, 46-55.
Reutzel, R. (1985). Story maps improve comprehension. Reading Teacher , 38, 400-404.
Children's books to use with this strategy
Who Sank the Boat?
Slightly more sophisticated readers will enjoy how the United States was pieced together as individual states were added. This informative book is illustrated with handsome yet informative quilts.
The Penny Pot
Jessie counts her coins in order to have her face painted at the school fair. Coins, counting, art activities, and story combine in one book.
The Keeping Quilt
A quilt started by the author's great grandmother is passed on through the generations to chronicle and recall the family's history.
An American child initially has trouble communicating with her Palestinian grandmother. Families, family stories, immigration, and communication are among the possible build-outs related to this book.
Nabeel's New Pants
Nabeel's new garment is accidentally shortened too much in this humorous tale told in the style of a folktale.
Marianthe's Story: Painted Words and Spoken Memories
A unique format tells the story of a child new to America, its customs, and language. Immigration, communication, and school & teachers are among the possible links to this book.
Great Migrations: Whales
Information is provided through full color photographs and easier to read text.
A boy has five pennies and spends them one at a time as he meets people during a walk. Told in rhyme, this cumulative story is appealing and well supported by illustration.
Me on the Map
The United States is a big place which holds many children and their families. Maps and what they show are introduced by a girl who begins with a drawing of her room in her home. The house is then placed on a street, in a town, etc. until we see the U.S. as part of the world. This accessible book may help children understand their place on the map — and in the census.
Rosie, a hen, takes a walk — oblivious to the fox that is following her. Rosie unwittingly leads the hungry fox from one disaster to the next until she returns safely home. The simple text notes only Rosie's trip around the farm, making the strong line and bright colors of the illustration all the more striking and very funny.
Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship
When a tsunami orphans a young hippopotamus, a group of concerned Malidi (on the east coast of Kenya) villagers figure out how to capture the 600 pound baby thus beginning his new life in an animal sanctuary with a new and unlikely companion — a 130 year old tortoise named Mzee. Full color photographs and straightforward text are used in this inspiring, appealing and true story told first by a young girl and her father.
Soonie's great grandmother was only seven-years-old when sold to the big plantation. A quilt that showed the way to freedom and chronicled the family's history connects the generations, and continues to do so. Idealized illustrations and the poetic text provide an unusual family story.
Quilt of States: Piecing America Together
Quilts, a truly American art form, are used to illustrate each state in the order in which it was admitted into the United States. Short essays written by state librarians provide the story, background, and information about each quilt and state, and are reflected in the handsome, unique, and colorful illustrations.
One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab: A Counting by Feet Book
While you're on the beach, you can count from 1 to 10 by feet — combining numbers of feet and then multiplying them all the way to 100, which is ten crabs … or 100 snails if you really count slowly! Colorful, bug-eyed, cartoon-like critters further enliven this jaunty approach to numbers.
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Storylines usually follow some type of sequencing that helps readers understand the plot. As a teacher, you should help your students develop their sequencing skills so they can comprehend what they read. To help them through, provide them with sequencing worksheets to practice on.
- 1 Sequencing Worksheets
- 2 What is sequencing?
- 3 Story Sequencing Worksheets
- 4 Why do you need sequencing worksheets?
- 5.1 Language Arts
- 5.3 Science
- 5.4 Social Studies
- 5.5 Other sequencing activities
What is sequencing?
Sequencing is an essential skill that can help students understand whatever text or story they read. Sequencing is the ability to identify the parts of a story like the beginning, the middle, and the end – and the ability to retell the story’s events in the order by which they took place.
This skill of sequencing events is an essential strategy for comprehension, especially with texts that involve narratives. Students can easily find the meaning in texts if they have the ability to comprehend and place details in order within a larger context. The sequencing of events in a story is typically supported by connecting words like once upon a time, later, then, afterwards, and the end.
Understanding these textual features can give students a way to integrate the individual parts of a story into a larger framework, thus, understanding the objective of the author. As previously mentioned, you can help your students build this skill through sequencing worksheets.
Story Sequencing Worksheets
Why do you need sequencing worksheets .
How to sequence texts is an important skill that students must learn. The main focus of learning sequencing begins in the lower grades although in many classrooms, students learn this concept in varying grade levels. Learning how to sequence is important. Most of us might not even realize that the daily routines in our lives involve events that occur in sequence.
Some elementary students may have some difficulty in understanding the concept of sequencing events, much more so if you ask them to retell the story in the correct order. This is where story sequencing worksheets some in. Through these, your students can focus on the main elements of the narrative.
If your students can identify where the beginning, middle, and end take place, this means that they have a decent hold on the story. To help them develop their sequencing skills, sequence of events worksheets work very well.
The ability of students to sequence events is a skill that helps them understand what they’re reading. Through sequencing worksheets 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and so on, students can identify of the common parts of a story and gain the ability to retell the story in chronological order. This is an essential ability, especially when it comes to reading narratives. It also proves valuable for problem-solving across subjects.
Different types of sequencing and sequencing activities
There are several ways to apply the concept of sequencing to literature and reading in teaching strategies like thinking out loud, writing in journals, and more. Here are some examples where you can apply the concept of sequencing and use sequencing worksheets for practice:
Apart from using sequencing templates, one great way to help your students organize a sequence of events from a story is with the use of story maps. With these, students learn how signal or transition words can point to a sequence. Other proper like story chains, sequence sticks, story sequence crafts, and story retelling ropes can also help your students practice this skill.
Most math subjects curricula involve sequencing templates on ordinal numbers. For math lovers, they know that patterns are also a type of sequencing which may encourage the use of vocabulary words related to the concept.
For instance, students can write the steps of solving subtraction and addition problems that include regrouping. This is a great way to make them come up with the steps in order. You can use a sheet of paper folded into squares then ask your students to write the steps in the correct order inside the squares.
Helping students learn sequencing can help develop their scientific inquiry skills. For instance, in order to observe or study changes in something, students should follow along by recording these changes. These changes, of course, occur in a specific order, thus, allowing you to use sequencing worksheets 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and more for this subject.
Timelines are an excellent way to teach sequencing in social studies subjects. Children may enjoy creating a timeline of their own lives, including the most important milestones like learning how to crawl, when they said their first word, their first bike ride, their first day of school, and so on. Once they understand the process of sequencing events on a timeline, they can apply this to social studies curricula.
Other sequencing activities
- Your students may find it enjoyable to get involved with arts and crafts activities that teach sequencing too. Such activities can reinforce the concepts of sequencing while introducing concepts like addition, measurement, subtraction, and other fundamentals.
- Reading cookbooks can reinforce the stories, math concepts, and sequencing too.
- You can also use picture books along with story sequencing worksheets, especially with younger students, those learning the English language or students who have limited proficiency in English.
- For a simple activity that students can enjoy at home or in school, create sequence of events worksheets. Start with a piece of blank paper then fold it into squares. For younger students, start with four big squares. For older students, you can add more squares. Now, ask your students to draw the events of a story they know in the order on which those events occur.
- Using a calendar is a great way to show sequencing too. Tear or cut out the pages from an old calendar, mix these up, and hand out the pages to your students. Now, ask your students to arrange the months from January to December by laying them on the floor. Do this individually or by group.
- Making use of a storyboard can enable your students to visualize an activity and consequently, make connections between the image and the activity that is or needs to take place. Storyboards are an excellent sequencing tool because of their construct – they consist of cells arranged in rows, columns or both which your students can use to keep details, pictures, and ideas in correct order. Whether in paper or digital form, your students can manipulate the events, thus, giving them a more solid comprehension of the sequencing concept.
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Garinger S Togba
I’m still struggling with the chronological versus sequence. When a student summarizes a short story (in this case a fairy tale), is that summary chronological because the events happen in order from beginning to end? Or is it sequence?
As I define it, and other people use these terms differently, events that occur chronologically occur at a specific time. Whereas sequences or processes can occur at anytime. This is the difference between telling my friend about my trip to the mall (occurred at a specific time and is organized chronologically) and telling my friend how to get to the mall (could occur at anytime and is organized sequentially). I hope that this helps!
Very helpful hints. Keep on publishing.
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Grade 2 Exercises Sequencing Sequencing Worksheets for Grade 2 Order of events Students are asked to place events in their natural order in these grade 2 sequencing worksheets. The last worksheets also include exercises on comparing and contrasting information from the story. Just sequencing: Worksheet #1 Worksheet #2 Compare / contrast also:
Grade 2 - Sequencing Worksheets Write what happened first, second, third and fourth. Grade 3 - Sequencing Worksheets Place 4-6 events from texts in order. Grade 4 - Sequencing Worksheets Place 6 events from longer texts in sequence. Grade 5 - Sequencing Worksheets Sequence 8 events from a text in their natural order. Sample Sequencing Worksheet
You can support students’ sequencing ability by encouraging the use of vocabulary words such as "What bead goes first? Then which bead? Which bead is third?" Encouraging students to write out the steps for solving addition and subtraction problems that include regrouping is an excellent way to have them think through the steps in a logical order.
2nd grade Sequencing in Fiction Sort by Reading Comprehension Practice Test Worksheet Sequence of Events Worksheet The Boy Who Cried Wolf Prediction and Comprehension Worksheet Story Rollercoaster Worksheet The Ant and the Grasshopper Worksheet Story Elements Map Worksheet Story Comprehension: What Happens Next? Worksheet
1 Sequencing Worksheets 2 What is sequencing? 3 Story Sequencing Worksheets 4 Why do you need sequencing worksheets? 5 Different types of sequencing and sequencing activities 5.1 Language Arts 5.2 Math 5.3 Science 5.4 Social Studies 5.5 Other sequencing activities Sequencing Worksheets 9901 downloads Sequencing Worksheet - Build the Story
Signal Words: First, next, before, lastly, then. Example: How to Make Cookies. First, get your materials. Then, make your dough. Lastly, cook your dough at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Here is a basic sequence worksheet if your students need more practice. Here is a more advanced series of text structure worksheets if your students are ready to ...