Ask most kindergarteners, “What happened?", and you can get ready for a pretty wild, often non-sensical tale. That’s because for most kids, the concept of a story having sequence, or a “beginning, middle, and end”, is only just starting to make sense to them. Sequencing is a crucial skill for learning success, however, and kindergarten teachers heavily encourage practicing it. Want to help your child sequence at home? Try this activity with your child to increase his vocabulary and strengthen his grasp of the beginning, middle, and end by having him place sentence strips in the right order.
What You Do:
- Start by inviting your child to think of an event. It can be something small like a trip to the park or the journey to school, for instance. It does not have to be a big or recent memory, just so long as it has a beginning, middle, and end. For reference, some sample stories are listed below.
- Once you've chosen your event, let your child describe the event in three short sentences as you write down what she says verbatim on the index cards. Use only one index card per sentence. These cards are your sentence strips.
- Place two magnets on the back of each card, and stick the strips on the fridge in a random order. If you child is reading independently, have her read the three sentence strips in any order she chooses. If she needs assistance reading, you can help her read the sentences—just remember to read the cards out of order if you do.
- Ask your child to place each sentence strip in order from beginning to end so that the story makes sense. Read aloud together to confirm the strips are in the right order.
- Once your child gets the hang of the activity, you can write and sequence more stories together. As your child gets better at sequencing, you can vary this activity by increasing the story to four or five cards or even by putting extra vocabulary words in, too. Or save your best stories and keep them up to make a family “fridge library!”
Sentence Strip Story Ideas
I get out bagels. I spread jelly on both halves. I cut the bagel in half.
Sam brushes his teeth. Sam waits for the school bus. Sam eats breakfast.
Jen plays in the park. Jen rides the see-saw. Jen chases a butterfly.
Vocabulary Builder Words
Apples, donuts, peanut butter, cheese
Hair, carpool, lunch, dinner
Dog, swing, sand box, slide
Alicia Danyali, B.S. Elementary Education, taught primary-level students for four years at the International School of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The last four years of her teaching career, she taught at the Washington International School in Washington, D.C. She recently completed writing a series of children's picture books and is a mother of one young son.