Image by: Kathryn Cartwright

String In A Sequence

Age Range
3-7 yrs
Setup Time
5 minutes!
Setup Location

Ordering, sequencing, and patterning are important foundational skills for mathematics. You can build young children's early math skills by help them learn sequencing, seriation, and patterning.

Sequencing is the ability to create and identify patterns. For example, children may stack blocks in a pattern of red, blue, red, blue, and so on.

Seriation is arranging objects in order by size, location or position. Have you ever asked children to arrange objects from smallest to largest, largest to smallest, shortest to tallest or thinnest to thickest? You’ve been teaching seriation. Young children who understand seriation can put numbers in order from lowest to highest, smallest to largest. Eventually, they will come to understand that 6 is higher than 5 or 20 is higher than 10.

Creating Patterns: Having children copy patterns or create patterns of their own (such as red, blue, red, blue, red, blue) may seem simple, but it is a great way to help children recognize order in the world and prepare for later math skills, such as multiplication. For example, four groups of three objects each make a total of 12 objects (4 X 3 = 12).


  1. Demonstrate stringing half-inch beads of 3 different colors (red, blue, yellow) and 2 different shapes (round & square) to your child

  2. Thread 8 beads in a sequence and ask your child to string another set of beads in the same pattern

  3. Depending on success, either make the pattern simpler or more complex

Disclaimer: This presents an overview of child development. It is important to keep in mind that the time frames presented are averages and some children may achieve various developmental milestones earlier or later than the average but still be within the normal range of development. This information is presented to help parents understand, at a high level, what to expect from their child. Any questions/concerns you may have about your child’s development should be shared with your doctor.