Sequencing Activities for Preschoolers

Struggling to get your kid to listen? Help them learn how to follow directions, by giving them a hands-on sequencing activity with my free sequencing cards! 

The thing is, understanding that actions are performed in a logical order to achieve an end result is a skill that we have to learn and practice. It’s called sequencing.

In this article, I’ll give you step-by-step sequencing activity instructions, plus you’ll also find a free 4 step sequencing pictures printable for educational activities.

Sequencing activities are a great way for preschool and elementary kids to make sense of information and understand order, process, and organization. And…to follow directions!

Sequencing is important for practical life skills – like the steps of tying their shoe.

And also understanding our world – like how plants grow or how seasons evolve.

And if your child is constantly asking why, this is a perfect way to give that curious little mind the information it is craving, in a visual way that shows them the progression of events.

free sequencing activity printable for preschool
free sequencing activity printable for preschool

So, what is sequencing exactly?

Sequencing is our ability to organize thoughts and language in order to break down an event into a series of actions in a specific order. 

Imagine trying to brush your teeth, but you don’t know what order to do things in. Does the rinsing come first? Do you brush before you put on the toothpaste? Total nightmare.

Sequencing is the ability to order events logically. And when our brains understand sequencing, we’re able to do things like, follow directions, predict what happens next, communicate effectively, and solve problems. 

Not to mention daily life activities like getting dressed and eating breakfast.

Sequencing is a very important part of understanding the world around us. The more we are able to put events, ideas and objects in order, the easier it is for us to understand what’s going on around us. 

And, this can be especially helpful when it comes to things like language learning and reading comprehension.

3 step sequencing pictures

Why is sequencing important for kids?

On a day-to-day basis, sequencing is critical for us to be able to communicate with others and perform daily activities.  It would be pretty tricky to do things – like eat breakfast or get dressed – if we didn’t know the correct order to do them, or an understanding of how each step builds on the next.

And sequencing is crucial in school too – without it, we wouldn’t be able to learn to read or write. It’s an important skill that builds a strong foundation for future learning, including early math and building literacy skills. According to Learning Without Tears, it allows us to be able to:

See and understand patterns
↠ Follow instructions
↠ Understand a story arc of beginning, middle, and end
↠ Recount experiences
↠ Make predictions
↠ Understand if a task is logical or doable
↠ Know when a task is done
↠ Communicate words in an order that makes sense

preschool activities

Set Up A Sequencing Activity: Growing Plants Printable

So, how do you help your preschooler develop sequencing skills? Give them fun, hands-on sequencing activities.

Below, I’ve included step-by-step instructions for exactly how to introduce sequencing activities to your preschooler, and I’ve also included a free 4 step sequencing pictures printable that you can use to get started. You’ll love how easy it is to set up a sequence activity for your preschooler!

The free printable sequencing cards show the plant growth process from seed to plant. And is a fun way to teach young children about plants, while practicing this important cognitive skill.

These printable activities can be done as part of preschool learning, speech therapy, or part of a homeschool preschool lesson. Or you might just use them as home practice for a fun activity to do with your early learners.

Materials

Download and print your free plant picture pdf files

Sequencing Activities: Step-by-Step

I’ve outlined different ways to use printable cards with your child, going from the easiest to the hardest.  Just follow the simple steps, and when your child has mastered one activity, then you can move to the next one.

2 step free sequencing activity

2 Step Sequence Activity (First and Last)

This activity only uses 2 of the 4 cards, so pick out 2 (like the seed and the plant). Use the cards as visual aids to show first a seed is planted, and then a plant grows.

Describe the plant process, then ask your child what happens first.  And then what happens last? Once they are able to understand the concepts you can move to the next activity. Make sure you’re specifically calling out the words first and last, to help them build vocabulary around the order of things.

3 step sequencing activity free printable

3-Step Rearranging Activity

Once your child has gotten the 2 step sequence down, now it’s time to move to more cards and a new task. You’ll pick out 3 of the 4 plant pictures for this activity. You’ll describe the process, by saying the first step is to plant the seed (while placing the seed card down.) Then describing the next step when the seed sprouts. Then the last step is that it grows into a plant. 

Then ask your child to describe the steps (one at a time).

Finally, you can scramble the cards into a different order and ask your child to pick out the first step and describe what’s happening (while putting the card in the first position).  Then ask what the next step is.  And finally the last step.

3 step plant sequencing cards

3 Step Sequencing and Story

Now it’s time to hand your child the 3 cards (they’ve been working with) all mixed up and ask them to put them in sequential order. 

Then ask your child what is happening in each picture, using the words, first, next and last.  

sequencing without pictures

Sequencing Without Pictures

Now that your child can put the pictures in order and speak about what’s happening for each step, it’s time to try it without using the pictures. 

Ask your child what the first step is, the next step, and the last step. If they need the pictures to help them to recall, bring them out as needed.

sequencing activities for kids

4-Step Sequences & 5 Step Sequences

Now it’s time to add the 4th card to the sequence of events, and repeat the activities above.

Once your child is able to move through 4 steps, you could add a 5th step to the sequence.  

To do this, you can get creative and create task cards using your own pictures! Create cards for the life cycle of a butterfly, or real life daily activities like brushing your teeth or other personal hygiene tasks. Another fun activity would be to create cards for a fairy tale or short story your child likes to read. Or putting together the steps to baking an apple pie!

sequencing with storytelling

Storytelling and Recalling Past Events 

Now that your kid is getting more practice at sequencing, you can start helping them recall past events by using the first, next, and last prompting. This could be recalling things that happened throughout their day, or it could be helping them recall one of their favorite books or stories.

As your little learners progress, they could move to story writing to create their own sequences in creative and imaginative ways. 

4 Tips for Practicing Sequencing Activities

1. Use Hands-on Manipulatives

Kids are able to process information better when they have something tangible to move around and manipulate.  This is especially important at the preschool age. Like putting the picture cards in the correct sequence. 

Always opt for hands-on activities instead of things like printable sequencing worksheets which are 1 dimensional and harder for kids to learn from. And hands-on activities have the added bonus of giving them fine motor practice!

sequencing mat

2. Use Sequencing Mats

If your child has a hard time getting the concept of where the cards go, use a sequencing mat.  This could just be a piece of paper or cardboard, with the outline of the position of all the cards.  This helps kids visualize the layout and where the cards will end up.

3. Use Topics Your Kiddo Likes

If you’re struggling to hold your kid’s attention, create sequence cards for things they are super into. Dinosaurs, the moon, baking cookies, cars. 

My toddler has been asking a lot about why it’s cold outside – or where winter comes from, and this is the perfect opportunity to give a hands-on activity about something he’s naturally curious about.

4. Go Slow and Lower Your Expectations

Understanding new concepts take time. Try to just have fun with the activities and see where they lead you. Instead of sequencing, your kiddo might rather make up a funny name and story about your plants. Or maybe they want to stack the cards to try to build a house. And that’s OK! They are practicing different skills that day. 

Download Free 4 Step Sequencing Pictures Printable: Plant Cards

Want More Super Fun Learning Activities?

butterfly matching game

Next, you can explore 5 different ways to play Memory, or you can download my free Activity Guide that gives you 15 creative ways to play with flashcards.

Or you can explore how to set up a butterfly symmetry activity to help your preschooler build their pattern recognition skills to prep them to read.

If you want more fun ideas, sign up for my newsletter where I send one play activity idea, once a week, giving you some serious inspiration of what to do with your toddler or preschooler that week. I send out freebies and special treats, all for my email list.

Or read the rest of my blog. It’s home to lots of play & learn activities, arts & crafts projects, activities to build your kiddo’s cognitive skills, and Montessori activity ideas and info.

And shop my printable activities. Explore nature themed printable activities for your toddler and preschooler to help them learn through play. All hands-on activities — the healthiest way for your young kiddo to learn. And designed with watercolor artwork, so you’ll love adding it to your beautiful home.

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I'm Stefanie—Founder & Designer For Little Moon

If you’re a toddler or preschooler parent who dreams of having a kid who is captivated by learning — but are too busy raising your tiny human on exactly 3 hours of sleep to research educational activities — nice to meet you, I’m your new solution.

I’m a cognitive psychologist + toddler mom, and I design nature printable activities to help your little one grow, learn and thrive through hands-on play, in a healthy way.

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