Sequencing Stories

When we took our grandchildren to the apple orchard it reminded me of my favorite way to introduce the idea of sequencing to my Kindergartners.  I usually began by introducing the idea of the beginning, middle and end of a story.  I began by showing pictures similar to these.

apple sequence

I told the children that I had a story to tell them, and I put the three pictures in a pocket chart or on the floor in front of the children in a mixed up order.

Then I said “I ate up my whole apple, then I ate the first bite and then I picked the apple off of the tree!”

Of course I used a fun tone of voice, that invited the children to correct me – and they always interrupted and said that it was not right.  I asked what was wrong and called on a few children.   Sometimes they said you have to pick the apple first, sometimes they actually said something about being in the wrong order.

So I would say “Oh, I get it!  I picked the apple off the tree, then I ate it all up, then I had the first bite.”

They would correct me again and finally I would retell the story in the right order.  I would try to get someone to tell me that the story did not make sense when I told it out of order – if they didn’t say that I  would tell them that it did not make sense.

Then I would retell it again, adding the terms, beginning, middle and end – saying “at the beginning of my story I picked an apple off the tree.  Then in the middle I took the first bite.  At the end of my story I ate it all up.”

Then I would tell them that most stories are like that – they have a beginning and a middle and an ending.  I would tell them that we were going to read a story and I wanted them to tell me what happened in the book at the beginning, middle and end.  I usually did this the first time using a familiar story, often a fairy tale like the 3 Bears or Little Red Ridinghood.

After using my apple story it was easy for the children to identify beginning, middle and end with clipart of the apple.  Sometimes I had them draw a simple picture of each part of the story.


If my children were ready to draw and/or write more I might give them a folded booklet.

BME sequence

I would run these back to back, adding a title to the front, then fold them to make a booklet 5 1/2 x 8 inches.

If you would like to use this idea for sequencing a story, but not just the beginning, middle and end you could add an apple tree.  My story would be something like this:

One day I saw a beautiful apple tree.  I picked a delicious looking apple.  I took a bite out of the apple.  I ate the whole apple and just left the core.

Of course I would mix it up and tell it in the wrong order first.

Here are some ideas of how you might ask your children to draw or write to retell the story.


1-4 sequence

Here’s another choice if you want longer lines for the children to write on:

portrait view 1

portrait view 2


I would cut these in half and collate the pages to make horizontal books.

I always found that I needed to explain to the children that there are lots of events that happen in a story.  There is usually one beginning and one ending, but lots of things in the middle.  They could choose one or two things that happen in the middle of the story.

After introducing the idea of beginning, middle and end, I would usually teach a lesson about events of a story.  I used a footprint to symbolize the idea of the events.  You could actually draw a simple picture or clipart on each foot and the children could lay them out in the right order.  It is fun to let them walk along telling the events – taking a step for each one.   Instead of clipart I usually just cut out footprints from construction paper.


You would probably want to enlarge this footprint on a copy machine – or find your own.  This one got blurry when I tried to make it bigger.

Choosing the right story to teach sequencing is important because there are a lot of stories that the correct order is not really important.  For example, Brown Bear, Brown Bear – there are a lot of characters but they seem to be in random order.  You might use a story like that just to teach the idea that a story can have a lot of events.  If you are asking them to remember the correct order, try to find a story that makes the sequence easier to remember.  In The Napping House the characters get smaller through the story – the Granny, the child, the dog, the cat, the mouse etc.  I always pointed this out to the kids as we read and reread the story.  In The Mitten – the characters get larger until the last animal.  In the Three Bears – the bears went for a walk, Goldilocks came into their house, the bears came home and found her – she ran away.

When I wanted the children to remember the sequence of a story I always read it more than once, and often acted it out or used flannelboard pictures, puppets or magnetic pictures to retell it as a group.  Sometimes I just photocopied important pictures from the book itself.  You can call on children to come up and sequence the pictures in the right order.  When you reread a book many times it helps all children to be successful.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jenny Butler
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 19:49:12

    Thanks so much for this post! I really appreciate the level of detail provided.I particularly like your examples of what to say.


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