Sequencing for a young mind can be difficult and frustrating but is such an important skill to begin to master at a young age. I created this tool for math, however, we use it for language arts, spelling, and reading as well.
I made this caterpillar tool using the Cricut, but you could simply trace a circular object onto a piece of thick colorful paper if you don’t have an automatic cutting tool. I cut ten 6” circles in various colors and one 5” circle in a different color to be used as the caterpillar’s head. I created a face using black construction paper, giving it antennas, eyes, and a smile.
After having them laminated, I cut out each circle and lined them up, one overlapping the next.
I placed one part of the circular Velcro adhesive discs (hook or loop– doesn’t matter) on the back of the head and on the backs of all the other circles at the point of intersection. Once these were in place, I came back in with the other piece of Velcro and attached one to each piece that I had just placed behind each circle. Once I did that, I could simply secure the tacky adhesive side of the Velcro onto the next circle’s front side that was overlapping it. What you should end up with is each circle having two pieces of Velcro (with exception to the head): One on the left-hand side and one on the opposite side’s right of the differing Velcro. Now your tool is reversible and interchangeable. For some reason, kids love writing with marker (at least mine do). Expo Vis-à-vis markers write easily and come off with a little mist of water. Any time these come out, my daughters are thrilled to attempt an assignment that is challenging.
Below are some ways that we have used this tool on a consistent basis. I am sure there are thousands of other ideas that I have not yet thought of or explored. If you can think of another way, please share in the comment box below!
Skip Counting: When we are first working with a new skip counting pattern, my daughter will write each number on a circle. After practicing a few times, I will have her pull apart the circles, leaving the numbers on them for practice the following day, when she will see if she can remember the sequence in which they go. On day Three, I might connect them up in the wrong order and have her rearrange them. Day Four, she needs to determine which numbers I’ve erased and rewrite them onto the circle(s). On Day Five, she will find a blank caterpillar and she’ll attempt to write all the numbers of that skip counting pattern.
Sequential Counting: I may write 45, 46, in the middle two circles of the caterpillar and her assignment will be to fill in the circles to the left and right of those. I am quick to encourage my girls to count forward, however, it is equally important for them to learn to count backwards and this tool has been helpful in encouraging that!
My youngest daughter was just working on words that end in a “k” sound. I wrote “ck” on one circle and “k” on the other. For her spelling words, she would write the letters (one on each circle) and when she came to the “k” sound, had to choose my “k” or “ck” circle to attach to the end.
Sentence Structure: This is a concept that we are always adding to and this caterpillar is a great way to show the correct sequence of words in a sentence. Although the picture I’ve included below shows a very simple sentence for a beginner in understanding the appropriate word order in a sentence, you can make longer, more complicated sentences for a student who is at a more advanced level of Language Arts to add to and diagram.
For young readers, this is also a helpful tool for them, as they are trying to determine the appropriate word order, to simply pull the circles apart and read each word separate from the others. I have found this to be tremendously helpful for my daughter, pulling a few subjects together at the same time, including words that she’s working on reading with ease in a sentence that needs to be reorganized in order for it to make sense.
This is a tool that was so simple to make and took such little time. Both of our girls have reaped the benefits of this learning tool time and time again because it is something that can be used in their independent learning time as well as a teaching tool when they are working one-on-one with me. When the teaching lesson has not gone as well as I’d hoped, at least I have the caterpillars hand-drawn wild eyelashes to help me regain a sense of humor. There is something about children, markers, and plain eyes that beckon some detail from young blooming artists!