Learning to Sequence: Step-by-Step

So much happens in a story that if we lose track of when events happen, we might miss some very key points. That is why teaching students to keep up with the sequence of events in a story is so important. Sequencing refers to the ability to retell the events within a text in the order in which they occurred. Students’ ability to sequence events in a text is a key comprehension strategy, especially for narratives.

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This lesson introduces students to sequencing and gives them the opportunity to apply this skill to a fun classroom activity. Instruction is inspired by Eric Carle’s, The Mixed-Up Chameleon. In Carle’s book, the chameleon's life was not very exciting until the day it discovered it could change not only its color but its shape and size, too. When it saw the wonderful animals in the zoo, it immediately wanted to be like them—and ended up like all of them at once! Students find this book hilarious.

During the read-aloud, I pause frequently to ask students to identify the events in the story and to encourage them to think about when the beginning gives way to the middle and the middle transitions to the end. Students really like to keep up with the order in which the chameleon meets all the animals at the zoo. As each page is turned, the new animal whose feature the chameleon takes is shown, so at the end, all the animals are shown at the edge of the page.

After the read-aloud, students use sequencing as they follow the necessary steps to make an exciting craft. In this activity, students work with pipe cleaners of various colors to create their very own mixed-up chameleons. As you demonstrate each step in the sequence, be sure to emphasize transition words that signal chronological order.

Directions for Creating a Pipe Cleaner Chameleon:
  • Give students two pipe cleaners of different colors. 
  • Say, “First, loop one of your pipe cleaners in half. Remember that the circle part will be the chameleon’s head and should only be about the size of your pinky finger.”
  • Say, “Second, loop one of the halves of the pipe cleaner around the head until it is covered.”
  • Say, “Next, coil a second pipe cleaner around a pencil. After you wrap the pipe cleaner five times, go back over it. Remember, this will be the chameleon’s body. Then, slide the body on the straight piece of pipe cleaner which contains the head.”
  • Give students two shorter pieces of pipe cleaner for the legs. 
  • Say, “After making the chameleon’s body, we will create its legs by bending over the ends for the feet. Attach each leg securely on either side of the body." 
  • Say, “Last, curl the tail.”  

Student’s absolutely love this sequencing activity. By following the step-by-step directions, each student will have a mixed-up chameleon they will proudly show off to others. Every time students look at their pipe cleaner chameleons, they will be reminded of how important it is to sequence.
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