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Sequencing Skills – A Key to Success in Early Math and Reading

One potato, two potato, three potato, four…five potato, six potato, seven potato, more….amazing that after all these years I remember that counting rhyme like it was yesterday. In fact, I remember it as clearly as the alphabet song, which I must admit I still use today.

What do these two song activities have in common? They both taught us sequencing, helping us understand that there is an order to numbers and letters, and at least for me, firmly cementing what comes next in both of these object strings.

Sequencing is the process of putting objects in a logical order and is something we use every day to order our lives and to accomplish our goals. First this, then that….which is the basis of our system of logic. Knowing the logical order of something allows us to intuitively see when something is out of order, a fundamental technique in higher level problem solving. But for children, sequencing is a critical skill in pre-reading, comprehension and writing. It is also a key skill for basic math concepts that lead to more advanced addition, subtraction and upper operations. Not having these skills can set our kids back in the learning process.

As adults, we take sequencing for granted because we have combined the knowledge of the individual numbers or letters with the order that they appear. When we say the alphabet, we logically assume it includes the place holder value and the correct order.

I know I’ve told this story many times, but I think it shows us not to assume our kids know something that is really second nature to us adults. Meet our grandma with a precocious 4 year old in tow. She sees our What Comes Next ABC puzzle and shares with our consultant that it is ‘just too easy’ for her smart 4 year old who is already working 100 piece puzzles. Meantime the precocious 4 year old is just looking at the ABC puzzle, but not moving to put it together.

Grandma becomes aware that her grandson is not working the puzzle as she directed and she encourages him on saying, “You know your letters. You can put that together!” But, guess what? Her grandson, while knowing his letters, could not put the ABC sequencing puzzle together because he did not know the order. And, the sequencing puzzle, with its all alike piece shapes, didn’t give him any clues (allowing him to use his spatial reasoning which he was clearly very good at) to solve the puzzle.

Knowing the order of things is a fundamental skill that not only is a pre-requisite for reading and math, but really for how we take direction. Do this first, then this second. You can help your children understand these concepts by using words in your conversations like first, next, then and finally. Also, include ordinal words like first, second and third to show the progression of steps.

Begin by working puzzles like What Comes Next to reinforce the fundamentals. Then, move on to games like Pickles' Veggie Pick which uses a pre-defined order for movements of the 3 active characters. Or even Pickles Pig Tales, where you build a story and reorder specific components as you go. And, be sure to find ways to use the words of ‘order’ in your daily conversations with your child. In this way, you can give your kids the step-up they need to make sequencing a solid skill in your child’s learning portfolio!

We have lots of fun games to help your child build their sequencing skills.  Now is a great time to keep play front and center in your family.  Give your child an opportunity to thrive.  Learning is serious business!  Luckily, SimplyFun is here to make it fun!  Ask yourself, can you really afford not to spend 30-minutes in game play to help your child better their chances of succeeding in life?


What Comes Next?                     Pickles' Pig Tales


Space It!                       

Pickles' Veggie Pick    


Bringing Down the House

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