How do you teach the core computer concept of sequencing to your students?

Share your best practices, hacks, tips and tricks here. Also feel free to share here your questions, half-baked ideas, spectacular failures and concerns about teaching loops.

In your post, be sure to tell us what grade you teach and any other relevant information about your classroom context that will help other understand how they might implement your idea.

My son loves model trains and lego building blocks. I can use these to explain to him that sequencing works the same as putting his train together. First the cart with the engine because this pulls the train forward and then the next cart, etc. Or using the Lego blocks to build something and using a particular order or colour combinations… this is gonna be fun

I know it is an old example/idea, but I still use the “Making a peanut butter sandwich” activity to talk about the importance of sequencing. I bring in all the pieces needed to make the sandwich and have the students tell me what to do. It is always a funny activity that proves the point of how important clear step by step instructions are to completing most any task.

I like the dice game that was taught to me at the ISTE conference in Philly. You have your students pair off, each roll the die three times and see who won. They can play the game twice in under a minute but then you tell them to write done directions to the game as if they were explaining it to a kindergartener.

We learned a version of “Rock, paper, scissors” that I think I’ll use to introduce this idea. Students pair off and play as usual but then the loser becomes the winner’s support group and follows them to the next match. At the end you have two students left with a group of students wildly cheering for their champion as the final match is played. It goes fast and the students love it!

One way to facilitate students discovery of computer sequencing while using the CODE.org Courses 1 and 2 with a group of students is to invite a student to to explain what the desired outcome is and then invite others to contribute the first action etc. while another student responds to their commands in movement or by illustrating on the whiteboard or big screen.

Another way is to correlate sequencing and the sets of direction they follow each day in school, such as come in, hang up jacket, pull out chair, place backpack on chair. Also, the simplicity and versatility of the unplugged sequencing activities illustrate that all commands may not be necessary, they must be in the right order, and something must trigger them initially.

To teach sequencing, I might have my students experiment with different blocks in different order to see what happens. I would then have the students discuss and share their observations and aha’s as well as understanding of sequence and why it matters. I might also have them make connections to the real world as far as daily routines or procedures, then have them decompose the steps and work backwards.

I would have students make a bead necklace and then write the directions with partners. Then swap partner directions and try to follow those directions. I would choose a several sets of directions and try to follow them. Then I would have the class discuss how being precise is important when sequencing.

I love sequencing in combination with maps. With pre-readers, a big emphasis at the beginning of the school year is simply navigating the school environment. I would take the activities we do as a class (how to find the nurse office, library, cafeteria, etc.) and have students relate them to directions and make a giant Flurb map of the school, perhaps with sheets of paper for each destination. One team could make the directions and then others could ‘test’ them to see where they really end up.

I might try having students work with a buddy and use Lego blocks to create a pattern of colors, then have a another team add on or change the pattern they created.

Teaching sequencing can be challenging to teach to the younger students. I start with simple game of “lead the blind” with a course (the difficulty depends on the grade level of students). I set up a course or we make a course as a group. Then we blindfold one student and then move them to the beginning of the course. We do not allow the student to see the course prior to being blindfolded. Another student leads the student through the course with only their words. I put something in the blindfolded students right hand so they can remember which is right or left (many students have trouble with this concept). The students enjoy this activity and they understand why it is important to give specific direction.

I really like the peanut butter sandwich idea and the lego idea. In fact, I think that I will use my son’s Duplo train track. It should do a nice sequence.

I have 8 to 10-year-olds, so I think that I will use a playground walkthrough. Teams will write directions and then give them to another team to test. It will get the kids outside! (I’m doing a summer coding camp - 8 hours of coding so they will NEED to be outside a bit!)

I am a gifted specialist in an elementary school. I haven’t taught coding before, but I am really excited about it. I really like the peanut butter sandwich example when teaching sequencing, and I also like the example of tying shoes. One thing I have done with my students that shows the importance of each sequence is an activity where students are facing each other but have something between them so each cannot see the other student’s paper. One student has a simple picture of something and has to explain in exact detail how to draw the picture. The other student has to follow the directions to attempt to draw the picture. The final drawing is rarely correct. Students forget to explain dimensions such as length of a line or size of a circle. The end results are usually quite comical.

I taught third grade last year. When I began this process, we talked about the sequence of how we might add a double digit math problem. They begin to see that it must be step by step or they are unable to complete the addition correctly.

One great example of sequencing is a familiar picture book. Explain how the story needs to be followed in sequence to make sense, and to have a logical/satisfying experience. I photo copy a simple picture book, and the children have to “route” a reader through the pages.

I’ve used iKnowThat.com’s Logic Games for ====9i8999, which existed before Code.org’s studio mazes, so students could only experience success during their foray into programming. Throughout the semester there are opportunities to view what happens when code is not properly sequenced using Scratch, and students are able to self-correct their code. Turns ‘teaching’ into ‘coaching’ as I’m only needed for complex code!

For Happy Maps I’m inspired to create maps with 2 directions, then multiple directions, to more quickly introduce sequencing for high school students. For example in Course 2, a map where it takes a diagonal sequence to get to the target, then we could introduce a repeat algorithm, which is technically a loop and takes us into the next lesson!

I use a couple of different methods. First, we may discuss sequencing as a process of washing dishes, or getting up in the morning and getting ready for school. I’ve also bought a ton of little 25 piece puzzles. We discuss how students might put them together (edges first, work on a specific part of the puzzle, etc), and then we do it. Some find it quite easy, others have a hard time with it. But, they all seem to get the idea.