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Writing: Sequencing

Chain Link Story for Younger Writers


Today's Snack: Set out one piece of bread, a jar of peanut butter with a knife, a squeeze jar of jelly, another piece of bread with a knife, and an empty plate. Now make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, moving down the line of items in order as you add ingredients and finally cut your sandwich in half and place it on a plate. That's called a "sequence," and it's what we're studying today. Wash down your sequence snack with a tall glass of milk!




Rectangular strips of scratch paper, cut in strips

OR if you have construction paper,

cut one strip in green, at least three strips in yellow, and one strip in red

Pen, Sharpie or pencil | Glue, tape or stapler



This young child's dictated story starts "Once upon a time there was a puppy who wandered away from home and got lost" on the green link . . . in the yellow links, monsters come,

but the puppy made friends with a bunny who led him home through a series

of tunnels and a hole in the puppy's backyard that he didn't even know was there . . . in the final red link, the puppy and bunny visited each other through the hole and tunnels and lived happily ever after.



It's a good idea to write in sequence (SEE-kwens). That means you write things in order. Writing in sequence makes sense. One sentence follows another in a logical connection that makes it easy to understand.


Often, but not always, things happen in a story by "time sequence" - first things first, middle things in the middle, and last things last. That's an easy sequence to follow, especially for young readers and writers.


When we say that we can "follow" a piece of writing, it's because it is written in good sequence - orderly, and correctly. It shows that you cared about the reader, and wanted him or her to get your message and the point of your writing. It's great when a writer tells a story in sequence -- making your writing clear, sensible, and easy to understand. And that's GOOD!


There are many ways to teach a young child how to write in sequence. Once simple way is to cut strips of paper, and write (or have the child dictate to you) a story with each part recorded in a few words or a sentence on a separate strip.


Remember to have one strip for a beginning, one strip for an ending, and then perhaps three strips for the middle for the action and details of the story.


Then make your Chain Link Story! First, form a circle out of the strip that the child thinks should come first in the story. Use glue, tape or a stapler to form the strip into a circle.


Next, the child should decide what part of the story comes next. Form a link with it through the first circle, securing the second circle with more glue, tape or a staple.


Keep going until the story is complete. If your child decides to add or subtract a part, it's easy enough to "break" the link and add or subtract a sentence.


Usually, the sequence shows what happened first, then second, then third, and so on, if you are describing events. That's called "chronological order" (kron-oh-LOJ-i-kal), or order based on time.


Whenever you are giving instructions, such as in a recipe or telling someone how to get to your house, write what to do first, second, third, and so on, up to the last step.


You write in sequence when you are explaining how to play your favorite video game, or reporting the plot of a movie, or showing how to fix a bike, step by step. So it's really an important writing skill.


A Chain Link Story is fun to re-tell, using the links as a guide.


By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2012

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