sequence story, montessori, comprehension

Sequence Story: A Great Visual Activity for Comprehension

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Montessori Sequence Story Cards

Retelling a story in order is a natural progression in communication for children. Their vocabulary development begins with simple words like “dog” and “cat.” Later, it moves to action phrases or sentences, such as “the dog is sitting on the grass.”

But, it seems like a new world opens up when they begin to link those action phrases together in retelling a story. “The dog was running around the yard. Now, he’s thirsty and is drinking some water. Then, he is tired and goes to sleep.”

There is awareness of cause and effect and the sequence of events. Sequence story is a great lesson to help young children develop this awareness by retelling a story hands-on. The lesson helps maintain order and left-to-right movement (preparing for reading) while practicing comprehension.

In this post, I’ll share how to do the sequence story lesson I learned from my Montessori training. I’ll also share how the lesson went with my almost-four-year-old daughter, Annie, at home!

In This Post

sequence story butterfly pin

How does story sequencing help preschoolers?

Story sequencing activities help young children to practice telling a story in sequence. After all, every story has a beginning, middle and ending! 

With sequencing cards, your child can practice retelling a story in a hands-on way. 

Story sequence cards can help preschoolers with:

  • order
  • concentration
  • oral communication
  • understanding visual cues
  • telling a story in sequence
  • creating a visual sequence
  • left to right movement (preparation for writing and reading)
  • reading comprehension preparation

In the article, Preschool Reading: Comprehension and Sequencing on,

"Sequencing is the ability to put the events of a story in the order in which they occurred. 'Teaching sequencing to early learners is important because logical order of thinking is fundamental to reading and everyday life.'"

Additionally, putting cards in order to tell a story is great for math preparation because of the cards being in numerical or sequential order. 

sequence story, montessori, life cycle of a butterfly
retelling the story

How to do the Montessori Sequence Story Cards

What you will need

To do the Sequence Story lesson, you will need a collection of cards, when placed in order tell a story. 

You’ll also need a basket or a tray to keep the cards in and a small area mat or table to do the work. 

Also, number the cards on the back in sequential order. You can write the numbers on the back. If the cards are already laminated, you can add a small sticker with a number on the back of each card. 

sequence story, montessori, comprehension
Putting the sequence story cards in order

Life-cycle cards are great for this activity. For Annie, I created the life-cycle of a butterfly card set. I also made a cut-and-paste matching worksheet.

* If you’d like to download the cards and the worksheet, join the resource library by signing up at the bottom of this post. If you’re already a member of the resource library, check my newest email for the updated password.

You can make sequence cards for the life-cycle of a:

  • sea turtle
  • frog
  • tree, apple
  • chicken
  • ladybug
  • bee
  • lotus flower

More ideas for story sequence cards include: 

  • eating an apple or an ice cream cone
  • going shopping with a cart with groceries and paying
  • flower blooming
  • gardening, planting a seed and the plants growing
  • getting dressed
  • cooking

You could also take pictures of your family adventures, print them out and create your sequence story cards! 

For instance, my husband’s parents own a pizzeria, and we visit them often during non-busy times.

At the pizzeria, sometimes Annie makes a small pizza at the table, and we take pictures of the steps. We can make sequencing cards with these photos.

You could also take pictures of something similar, like the steps for baking a cake at home and making cards with them.

Step-by-step: Story Sequence lesson

sequence story, montessori, visual
Place the basket of cards on the rug

Invite your child to do the activity, name the activity “Sequence Story,” and bring the basket of objects or cards to an area rug on the floor.

Place the basket of sequence story cards in front of your child and remove the cards one at a time. Discuss each picture.

sequence story, montessori, comprehension
Place the cards at random on the rug

Place the cards in random order on the rug. Place the empty basket in the upper corner of the rug.

Look at each card and say to your child, “I wonder which card is the first picture in the story.”

sequence story, montessori, comprehension
Place the first card to the left

Choose the first card and say, “I think this is the beginning,” and place it at the left edge of the rug.

sequence story, montessori, visual
Place the remaining cards in the correct order

“I wonder what comes next.” Choose the next picture card and place it to the right of the first. Continue to place all cards in order from left to right. 

sequence story, montessori, life cycle of a butterfly
Now tell a story about the pictures, from left to right

Now say to your child, “I’m going to tell a story that matches the pictures.” Point to each card as you discuss it, moving left to right. Invite your child to try to tell the story. 

sequence story, montessori, visual
Check if the numbers are in order on the back

To check the order of the pictures, turn the cards over and see them in numerical order.

Put the cards in mixed order and invite your child to put the story in order. 

Put the cards in mixed order in the basket and return to the shelf.

sequence story, montessori, visual
retelling the story

Notes about the story sequence lesson

In this example, Annie and I worked on the life-cycle of a butterfly cards. First, we discussed the pictures of the caterpillar, butterfly, egg, and chrysalis.

We talked about how first, the caterpillar egg lay on a leaf, just like in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.

Then a hungry caterpillar popped out of the egg and ate some leaves to get nice and big.

The caterpillar built a home around itself, called a chrysalis, where it could sleep, grow and stay safe.

Then, when the chrysalis opened up, a butterfly came out and flew to a flower to drink some nectar. 

Beginning, middle, ending

The main thing to remember while working on this lesson with your child is the concept of a story having a beginning, middle, and ending. 

Also, talk about the story. Does it make sense, or does it sound silly? Checking the numbers on the back of the cards can help to make sure that you told the story in the correct order. 

When your child works with the cards independently, she can use the numbers on the back to check her work without help from an adult.

Sequence story is a fantastic lesson for learning to retell a story. It’s also great practice for reading comprehension!

Important: It’s best to use only 3 or 4 cards so that the lesson is not too overwhelming. For children older and experienced with this lesson, you could use a few more cards for an extra challenge.

sequence story, montessori, visual
The butterfly came out of the chrysalis

Also, It’s helpful to choose topics and pictures familiar to your child. This way, your child will be confident to talk about all the pictures and retell the story. 

For example, Annie loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. The life-cycle of a butterfly cards came to life for her because she was familiar with the book. 

While retelling the story with the cards, she said a few lines from the book, like “in the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf.”

More ideas for story sequence

You could create cards with a daily routine. For example, include snack time, work, story time, play, lunch, and nap. You could have a board up with Velcro on the back of each card, and your child can create the schedule for the day.

I wrote a blog post about creating a daily routine chart, which can help to inspire you!

You could also take the pages out of an old book and make cards to put the story back in the correct order. 

To change up the lesson, you could:

  • Tell the story in different ways
  • Use different cards and topics
  • Use a felt board with felt pictures
  • Write down the story on paper, or create a journal

Try a story sequence cut-and-paste worksheet! I created a matching life-cycle of a butterfly worksheet that matches the sequencing cards. 

* If you’d like to download the cards and the worksheet, join the resource library by signing up at the bottom of this post. If you’re already a member of the resource library, check my newest email for the updated password.

sequence story butterfly pin

Concluding Thoughts about Sequence Story

I love story sequence because it’s one of those “use it anywhere” lessons. In math, understanding a sequence develops logical thinking and numerical sequence. 

In language, sequencing is a great visual tool to help with comprehension and tasks that have multiple steps. You can use them for recipes, cleaning up a room, and even brushing teeth. 

Additionally, the understanding of beginning/middle/end can help with CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant) like “cat” or “dog.” A beginning, a middle, and an ending sound make up the word, just like a story! 

Finally, this is the last lesson from the Montessori Oral Language sequence! If you’d like to learn more about the 11 lessons in the sequence, check out my blog post: 

The Essential Guide To 11 Fun Oral Language Development Activities 

Next, your child moves on to exploration with letter and sound activities. To learn more, check out my next blog post: 

Essential Guide To 4 Fun Letter And Sound Activities 

Have you tried a sequence story activity with your child? What was the story about, and how did it go? Leave a comment below!

More Montessori Resources

Sequence story lesson plan mockup

You can also download the lesson plans for:

1. Beginning Oral Language Activities

2. Picture Story (Dictation) Plus 24 photos and the lined paper we used!

3. Naming – plus 140 labels for around the house

4. Classified Objects – plus 8 insect photo cards

5. Object Discrimination (Object Matching)

6. Object Picture Matching – plus 8 flower photo cards to go with objects

* The Three Period Lesson Cheat Sheet – plus 7 bird photo cards (you can use this method to remember vocabulary words from any lesson).

7. Picture Matching – plus 11 dog breed photo cards to match or play memory (print out two copies of the picture-only cards to make matching cards).

8. Go-Togethers – plus 9 pairs of sports go together matching cards.

9. Vocabulary Enrichment (3-Part Cards) – Plus 9 Types of Road Vehicle Cards and 8 Types of Owls Cards.

10. Rhyming Objects

11. Sequence Story  – Plus a set of 4 butterfly sequence story cards and a matching cut-and-paste worksheet.

Montessori Sequence Story Cards

sequence story mockup pin

16 thoughts on “Sequence Story: A Great Visual Activity for Comprehension”

  1. Lynn Armstrong

    SO GREAT!! My son loves to retell me stories and events. he really like to draw them and share with his sister. I will look into those cards for my youngest!

  2. This is a brilliant idea! We’d love to incorporate this into our lessons. I agree with you that it can help preschoolers in so many ways. Appreciate the step-by-step guide.

  3. Charlie-Elizabeth Nadeau

    This is so smart! Thank you for sharing this. It brought back feel-good memories of similar games I played as a child. I never relaxed how working skills through games could be so beneficial to development and learning. It’s an all in one. Very useful to integrate in early development and could even be a fun game to play as adults!

    1. Hi Charlie-Elizabeth,
      I’m so glad that you enjoyed reading about the sequence story lesson!

  4. This looks like a great hands on learning activity! I love how it turned out, this would have been great when my kids were smaller.

  5. Monica Simpson

    Very simple activity with so many benefits! I especially love the life cycle of the monarch. We raise them in the summer time!

  6. My boy is so much interested in the life cycle of a butterfly. I believe sequencing technique will be so much helpful for him to learn it in a more fun-filled method. Thank you for sharing. I will apply this, too.

  7. I love this idea – it’s great for visual learners. I think it would also be a good way for a journal type story where the child recounts a vacation or day trip using photos you took on the day. What do you think?

    1. Hi Janice,
      Using photos for a vacation or a day trip is a great idea to make cards for a sequence story!

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