Review: 4-Scene Sequencing Cards

Four sequencing cards out of order depicting a girl with a sleeping bag either just waking up and putting her bag away or just going to bed and retrieving the bag from a closet.

Sequencing cards are an interesting educational toy probably off most parents’ radar, or at least they were off mine.

I picked up Four Scene Sequencing Cards by Frank Schaffer Publications at a preschool-going-out-of-business sale.

Forty-eight thick cardboard squares depict a dozen mini-stories, each in four illustrated pictures.

For example, a girl plugs in a popcorn popper with her father, pours kernels into the popper, watches popcorn fill a bowl, and finally she eats popcorn with her dad.

You prompt your toddler to tell you which scene comes first, second, third and fourth. Then you alternate using different words, such as beginning, middle and end. More advanced variations involve giving a toddler several picture sets to sort before determining their order.

These cards teach sequential order, narrative order (storytelling), and prediction skills.

On her first time through, my almost 3-year-old daughter couldn’t sequence a scene of a boy making a phone call, even though she is no stranger to how phones work.

There is a level of logical thinking required to piece together the events of a scene. That’s what these cards help do, help with storytelling ability.

On a broader scale, they might deal with the concept of the progression of time. To my daughter, Grandma’s visit three months ago occurred yesterday and her once-a-week gymnastics class that she attended yesterday will occur tomorrow.

She knows a days-of-the-week song by heart, but the meaning and passage of time—except sunrise and sunset—escape her. Can her giving an order to a sequence of events help her with more abstract ideas such as time? I wonder.

The cards are intended for ages 3 to 10. My Little Miss was able to sequence most of the cards with a little thought, although ability seems tied to familiarity.

Her male friend who is a month younger failed using the cards, except for one scene in which a girl stacks blocks—the boy is a big block lover. Toddling boys seem to be slower in the educational realm while excelling in physical skills.

Incidentally, the depicted block-stacking girl wears leg braces and the other children on the cards are of mixed races, which was nice to see.

One scene I debated my daughter about depicted a girl grabbing a sleeping bag from a closet, unrolling it, getting inside and going to sleep. But to hear my daughter tell the story, the girl had just woken up and was putting her sleeping bag away. In the absence of additional evidence, I had to concede her point was possible.

My cards have a listed copyright of 1988, but are still in excellent condition, especially for having weathered a preschool. Today’s version of the cards might depict some different scenes, although the illustration style appears to be the same. Find 4-scene cards at Amazon, and 6-scene cards at the publisher’s web site, each in the ballpark range of $12.

Now, if you think these cards represent heavy handed learning at a time when toddlers
should be playing with toys, shame on you for creating a distinction between
learning and playing. 

Tom Sawyer
convinced a slew of neighborhood boys that painting a fence was the
funnest activity in the world. The boys even paid Sawyer for the privilege. Mark Twain’s story is often construed as
Sawyer fooling and exploiting naiveté, but if the neighborhood boys had
fun, that says something about Sawyer’s negative perspective.

The boys did
have fun because they could have stopped at any time, but instead
painted until they were exhausted. So, my point is, approach all
activities with a fun outlook and your toddler may very well do the same.


7 Responses to “Review: 4-Scene Sequencing Cards”

  1. Kate says:

    “Toddling boys seem to be slower in the educational realm while excelling in physical skills.”

    Normally I find your advice on educational play useful and even-handed, but this sounds like a big generalization.

    June 5th, 2007 at 11:29 am

  2. AJ says:

    Yes, I agree, it’s a gross anecdotal generalization. It’s what I’ve observed with toddler boys my daughter plays with. They are very engaged in physical activities, from soccer to playing with cars. I mentioned it primarily because I talk a lot about academic activities and the boys my daughter plays with simply don’t have the patience to sit down and figure out sequencing cards or board games.

    Of course, no other parents have posted comments asking, ‘Where did you get your daughter? My boy doesn’t have the patience for this sort of stuff.’ So, maybe I’m living in a bubble.

    If I have a second child and it’s a boy, I am very interested to see if he develops with the same interests as these other boys, or turns out more like my daughter. In other words, is it nature or nurture that I’ve been observing?

    June 5th, 2007 at 11:41 am

  3. Sally J. says:

    I purchased the *exact same set* at our neighborhood thrift store for a few quarters. My daughter loved it and we had fun playing with them and making up stories. My son just turned four and you’ve peaked my curiousity about the boy/girl thing. I’ll grab them off the shelf and see if he’s interested.

    There’s no question that boys and girls have different playing styles. My kids have access to the same shared toys, but they play with them very differently.

    P.S. Love the blog! I found you thanks to ParentHacks.

    June 6th, 2007 at 9:07 am

  4. Monique says:

    I have these cards too and they are great! It’s a fun way to get my son thinking and he doesn’t realize he is learning. :-)

    June 6th, 2007 at 10:36 am

  5. Kate says:

    Again, I question whether “boys and girls have different playing styles” at age 3, or whether it’s just that all KIDS are different.

    Maybe, as a parent of two boys, one of whom has already aced the Brain Quest cards you recommended, I’m just sensitive.

    June 6th, 2007 at 11:45 am

  6. Jan Hunt says:

    It may seem obvious, but I believe most professionals and experienced persons working with kids with seqencing cards would place them left to right, to establish early reading readiness, as opposed to up and down or right to left.

    June 6th, 2007 at 11:04 pm

  7. Shree says:

    These cards are good. But it all depends on the mood of boys. Most of the times they are busy either running around or breaking things!

    June 11th, 2007 at 2:32 am

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