Today’s article will focus on a super fun activity you can do at home. This activity can help your child with autism build early reading comprehension skills. It is also a great way to practice following directions. Your child will be able to practice their fine motor skills, too. The activity we are talking about is: sequencing!
This kind of sequencing doesn’t mean putting things in order from biggest to smallest, or least to most. Those are great skills you can practice too, usually very easily with nesting dolls, number puzzles, or other small toys at home. This kind of sequencing activity takes a little more preparation, but it is worth it! This kind of sequencing activity focuses on putting things in order based on when they happen in a story.
What you will need:
1. One of your child’s favorite books. I recommend a short and simple book that still has a narrative outline to it. That means the story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. The sections of the story should have clear events that signify each of these parts. For example, the story will have a problem, efforts to solve it, and a solution and resolution. Some good examples:
-The Llama Llama series
-Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
-Otis and the Tornado by Loren Long.
For longer sequences that have many similar events that build on each other, you can use books like:
-The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
-The Napping House by Audrey Wood
-The Mitten by Jan Brett.
2. A printer, or beginner drawing skills. You will want to select an image that represents each major part of the story. For example, in Llama Llama Red Pajama, you could choose the following pictures:
-A llama to represent Baby Llama going to bed
-A picture of a mother to represent Mama Llama going downstairs
-A picture of a child crying to represent Baby Llama becoming upset
-A picture of a mother hugging her child to represent Mama Llama returning upstairs and comforting Baby Llama
The pictures that you print or draw should be small enough to fit in a row on one sheet of paper.
3. A piece of sturdy paper or construction paper, cut to fit the sequence pictures all in a row.
4. Glue and child or adaptive scissors that your child can use either independently or with support.
What to do:
Read the selected book with your child first. Make comments about what happens first, in the middle, and last. Ask your child questions if they are able to answer them verbally, like “What happened first? What happened next? How did they fix the problem?”
Introduce the art activity. It is ideal if you can show how to put a sequence together first. You can do this with 3 simple pictures that outline a familiar narrative, like opening the fridge, seeing that the milk is gone, and going to the store to get more milk (thus solving the problem).
Provide your child with the materials for the sequence based on the book that you read. Place the pictures out of order. Your child can practice rearranging the pictures to show that they understand the story. Provide your child with as much help and prompting as they need to be successful. If necessary, show them how to rearrange the pictures correctly, retelling those points in the story as you do so. Help them cut apart or cut around the pictures if necessary. Then, help them glue the pictures down in the right order. Optionally, they can color the pictures as well, once glued.
Now, you know how to teach early literacy skills through hands-on sequencing activities at home! Repeat as desired for other favorite books, or even familiar household routines.
Courtney Gutierrez, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA Courtney is a behavior analyst, educator, and writer in the Pacific Northwest. She has over fifteen years of experience in the field of autism services, and over ten years of master’s level experience in classroom teaching and ABA therapy. Her areas of expertise include infant and toddler development, parent coaching, ABA clinical leadership and training, P-12 special education, and case consultation for children and young adults with autism and other special needs. Courtney lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.