Picture Books to Teach Sequencing in the Classroom

Picture Books to Teach Sequencing in the Classroom

Use these picture books to teach sequencing by identifying the beginning, middle and end of a story and retelling the events in the correct order. This skill also helps your students follow a set of instructions in order to accomplish a task.

Picture Books to Teach Sequencing in the Classroom

What is Sequencing and Why is it Important?

Sequencing breaks down an event or a task into simple steps, in a specific order. Putting events and tasks in logical order helps others follow along and fully understand the text or complete a task successfully.

The Benefits of Teaching Sequencing

  • retelling story events in the order they happened
  • retelling events so others understand the story and plot
  • improving prediction skills because of increased
  • understanding of the plot structure.
  • organising story events and other information and ideas.
  • following a set of instructions in order to accomplish a task.
  • organising ideas when writing independently.
  • understanding of how a text is structured.

Why Use Picture Books to Teach Sequencing?

The short nature of picture books supports teaching sequencing. The story events will be clearer or more obvious than in longer books. The illustrations will also help your students recall events and their order.

Sequencing involves identifying the beginning, middle and end of a story and retelling the story events in the correct order. The ability to sequence depends on your student’s comprehension of the book they are reading.

Identify different parts of a story so you know they have comprehended what they have read.

Teaching Sequencing Prompts and Phrases

Encouraging your students to use first, then, next, finally/last, when sequencing a story. They are important transition or signal words and help your students think about the order of events.

When using books to teach sequencing, there are words and phrases that will support your students structural understanding. They include:
Beginning: In the beginning, First of all, Once upon a time, Once there was
Middle: Meanwhile, After that, Suddenly
End: In the end, Finally, After all

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Picture Books to Teach Sequencing

An Island Grows by Lola M. Schaefer

Discover how an island is born. The poetic verse describes how red-hot magma builds up under the ocean until it breaks through the water to form land which will eventually brim with different forms of life.

Use this informational book to teach sequencing, poetry, and word choice.

The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater

A curious fox, Marco, wants to find the answer to an important question “What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?” When he steps aboard a magnificent ship adorned with antlers he is filled with answers.

Read to dicuss questioning, curiosity, overcoming fears, and making friends.

A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon

Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but she won’t eat them because her friends hate them. A mystery illness causes her to turn into what others think she should be. No one can figure out what is wrong until Camilla realises she needs to just be herself not bow to peer pressure.

Reinforces themes of balance, self-esteem and growth mindset.

A Beach Tail by Karen P. Williams

A Beach Tail by Karen P. Williams

Gregory draws a lion in the sand on a visit to the beach with his dad. As the tail grows longer Gregory finds many interesting objects. When he gets lost he retraces his steps, passing all the objects he found on the beach and is reunited with his dad.

Read to discuss fathers and sons, sequencing, curiosity, and questioning.

A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams

Rosa, her mother and grandmother are devastated when their home is destroyed by fire. The community helps them by donating items they will need.

Promotes community, generosity, responsible decision-making and perseverance.

Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

Farmer Brown’s cows type him a letter demanding electric blankets. They go on strike when he refuses their demands. Duck takes an ultimatum from Farmer Brown to the cows and they agree to exchange the typewriter for the blankets. But, the next day Farmer Brown gets a note from the ducks demanding a diving board for their pond!

Read to discuss communication, persuasion, activism, knowledge, problem & solution, fairness, and resourcefulness.

The Forever Tree by Tereasa Surratt

When a special tree becomes sick the animals and humans who love the tree come together to save it.

Promotes nature, community and problem solvers.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Over the course of a boy’s life, he asks a tree to help him and she gives him everything she has. It is only on reflection, as an old man, he feels gratitude and thankfulness towards the tree.

Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson

Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson

A bear takes shelter in an empty apartment in Snooty Towers. He tastes some food but it is too soggy or too crunchy. He sits on the cat and bursts a beanbag chair. When the family return the bear recognises the mummy. It is Goldilocks all grown up!

Compare and contrast with the original Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

This book begins with an innocent request from a mouse which leads to a string of connected events. Every book in Laura Numeroff’s series perfectly shows cause and effect in humorous ways.

Journey by Aaron Becker

A lonely girl escapes into a mysterious world and witnesses an evil emperor capture a majestic bird. With courage, the girl outsmarts the emperor's army to set the bird free.

Journey is a wordless picture book that promotes confidenceperseverance, problem-solvingrisk-taking and creative thinking.

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood

King Bidgood enjoys having a bath so much he won’t get out. His page calls upon the court for help. Nothing works so while everyone is despairing of what to do the page plugs the plug!

Use to teach sequencing, creative thinking, problem & solution and prediction.

Little Wise Wolf by Gijs van der Hammen

Little Wise Wolf by Gijs van der Hammen

Translated from Dutch. Little Wise Wolf has learned many things from the books he loves reading. But he learns a tough lesson when he finds he is unprepared for a long journey to help the sick king.

Use to promote friendships, asking questions, knowledge, self-awareness and kindness.

Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn

When Lola visits the library with her father they choose books for bedtime. She enjoys acting out the stories and pretending to be a fairy princess, a pilot, a farmer and a traveller to faraway lands.

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

When a boy finds a penguin at his door he sets out to help the sad-looking bird find its way home. After dropping the penguin on the ice he starts his journey home. It felt strange to be on his own so he searched for the penguin. After a fruitless search, the boy sets off home only to discover the penguin searching for the boy.

Promotes compassion, loneliness and a sense of belonging.

Manjhi Moves a Mountain by Nancy Churnin

Dashrath Manjhi shows how determination, grit and patience can literally move mountains. He uses a hammer and chisel to break through a mountain to a town where people in his village can access schools, health care and running water.

Use this biography to discuss perseverance, determination, inequalities, and sequencing.

Marianthe's Story: Painted Words by Aliki

Marianthe doesn't understand any English after moving from Greece to America. As she struggles to communicate with her peers, her teacher suggests she paints her ideas.

Reinforce themes of immigration, storytelling, visualising, relationship skills and self-awareness.

Me and You by Anthony Browne

In Anthony Browne’s version of Goldilocks, we discover the motivation behind her visit to the Bear’s house. Alone and living in a disadvantaged area, she comes across a bright and inviting home. As she goes inside we see events from the perceptive of the bears, giving the reader the chance to compare both sides of the story.

Use to promote sequencing, retelling and inference skills.

The Napping House by Audrey Wood

Entering the napping house we see grandma, a child, a dog, the pet cat and a mouse all asleep on a bed. That is until a wakeful flea bites the mouse and starts a chain reaction that wakes everyone up.

Use to teach cause and effect, recurrent patterns and sequencing.

The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett

All the birds had an egg, except Duck. He shows great compassion when he finds his own egg. The anticipation builds as the egg hatches. What will be inside?

Promotes open-mindedness, responsibility and a sense of belonging.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

Princess Elizabeth saves her fiancé Prince Ronald from a dragon only for him to tell her to clean herself up and look like a princess. Elizabeth happily skips into the sunset by herself.

Promotes gender roles, independence, self-esteem and strong female characters.

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Pug was greedy and selfish in almost every way. He lived in a home with his dachshund friend, Trevor, but selfish Pig refused to share his toys with Trevor. Pig soon learns a painful lesson when he gets his just deserts.

Promotes positive behaviour, integrity responsibility and self-management.

The Rain Came Down by David Shannon

The rain came down and causes total chaos in a small neighbourhood. All goes back to normal when the sun returns.

A great picture book to show cause and effect in action.

Rocket Says Look Up! by Nathan Bryon

Rocket dreams of being an astronaut like Mae Jemison. She tells everyone in town about an upcoming meteor shower and even persuades her brother to look up from his phone in time to see it.

Promotes a sense of community, enthusiasm, observation and curiosity.

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

Six blind mice feel different parts of an unknown object and discuss what they think it is. Their differing views cause an argument, each thinking their own opinion is correct. The seventh and final mouse explores the whole ‘Something' and understood it was an elephant.

This Indian folktale promotes themes of perspectives, senses and inferring.

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

A group of friends try to catch a beautiful bird in the forest. They sneak over to the bird but it flies away at the last minute. When all their plans to catch the bird fail they come up with a new one when they see another animal to catch.

Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye

A young girl visits Palestine to see her grandmother, Sitti, for the first time. She learns about Sitti's culture and traditions. The visit is shown through the girl's point of view and shows how they communicate without speaking each other's language.

So Much! by Trish Cooke

Mum and the baby weren’t doing much until the doorbell rang, and rang, and rang. They open the door to fun and loving family members who come to celebrate dad’s birthday.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Stellaluna, a bat, falls into a birds nest. She is raised like a bird until she is finally reunited with Mother Bat.

Reinforces themes of acceptance, differences and retelling.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

When Floyd got his kite stuck in a tree he throws his shoes to dislodge it. That doesn’t work so Floyd attempts to use more and more outrageous objects (and people) to free the kite!

Read this cumulative story to discuss cause & effect, problem-solving, perseverance, problem & solution, character traits and resourcefulness.

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

The reader gets to decide who is telling the truth in this fractured fairy tale of The Three Little Pigs. The wolf insists he was just trying to borrow some sugar to make a birthday cake for his poor old granny.

Promotes different perspectives, persuasion and honesty.

The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse by Mac Barnett

When a mouse is swallowed by a wolf he thinks his life is over, only to discover a duck who has made himself at home. When a hunter decides to kill the wolf the pair have to cooperate and make a brave decision to save their lives.

Promotes themes of cooperation, courage, problem-solving and creative thinking.

Thelma The Unicorn by Aaron

Thelma the pony wants to be a unicorn. When her dream came true she realises pretending to be someone else is not as much fun as she thought. She returns home where she can be herself.

Promotes themes of friendship, self-esteem and identity.

Two by Kathryn Otoshi

Best friends, One and Two love doing everything together. That is until Three comes along and Two feels left out. She was not an odd number. The even numbers support Two but an escalating argument occurs between the odd and even numbers. Zero encourages Two to be the bigger number and put a stop to the divisions.

Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

Peter was playing outside when he hears the whistling of an older boy. His own attempts come to nothing until his determination pays off and he blows his first whistle. Much to his delight, he can whistle to call his dog Willy.

Promotes perseverance, commitment and a growth mindset.

Wild by Emily Hughes

A little girl has known nothing but nature from birth. She is unabashedly, irrefutably, irrepressibly wild, until one day when she meets a new animal that looks oddly like her. They take her home and try to make her live like them. In the end, she is returned to where she belongs… the wild.

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What Next?

Do you have any favourite books to teach sequencing with your students? Let me know. 

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Picture Books to Teach Sequencing in the Classroom

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