4 Seriation Exercises for Children

Put these seriation exercises for children into practice and stimulate the learning of early math skills. Keep reading!
4 Seriation Exercises for Children

Last update: 16 June, 2022

Learning to separate by groups or in a certain order is a skill that’s acquired once relationships between objects can be established. And in order to achieve this learning, seriation exercises for children are the most appropriate activities.

What is a series?

A series is a group of objects that’s constructed according to the implementation of certain criteria. There are several types of series, but they can all be combined. These are the following:

  • Qualitative: series of objects containing the same quality (color, texture, shape).
  • Quantitative: the order is carried out according to a certain magnitude (width, length, weight).
  • Mixed: the series is built on the basis of quality and quantity.
  • Prenumerical: these series order numbers, but not in a mathematical sense.

Seriation exercises for children according to their age

To teach children to build series, you should keep in mind that, depending on their age, you can plan different types of exercises. In addition, you must also keep in mind that the role of the adult, whether parent or teacher, is to guide and motivate because being a visual activity, the child’s able to see their mistakes easily and solve them.

1. Activities for the youngest children

In early childhood and up to 2 years old, approximately, the proposed exercises have to be very simple and based on a single criterion.

For example, show the child a big ball and a small ball, let them manipulate them and then ask specific questions: Which is the biggest one? And the smallest?

Around the age of two, you can offer several balls of two different sizes and ask the child to start with a big one, then a small one, a big one, a small one, and so on. After the first example, they’ll be able to continue on their own!

Children doing color matching activities.
Sorting objects according to a classification criteria requires the training of certain skills, which are acquired in the early stages of child development.

2. Seriation exercises for 3-year-old children

For this age range, it’s most appropriate to work on simple and short series, using 2 or 3 objects and sorting according to a single quality, which can be color or size.

What do you need in order to do it?

What does the process involve?

  1. Draw a straight line on the white sheet.
  2. Glue the first caps together in a series. For example, blue, yellow, blue, yellow.
  3. Then ask the children to continue it.

You can also do it with blocks of different sizes and make the criterion of the series be the size: Big, small, big, small.

3. Activities for 4-year-olds

Now you can add some other quality and increase the number of elements, in order to increase the difficulty of the series.

What do you need in order to do it?

  • Black marker
  • Colored pencils
  • A sheet of white paper

What does the process involve?

  1. Draw a row of apples on the sheet.
  2. Ask the children to paint them according to the following pattern: Red, yellow, green, red, yellow, green, red, yellow, green.

Also, here you can combine the size and draw apples of different sizes to make a more complex series: Small yellow apple, medium red apple, and large green apple.

4. Working on series with children from the age of 5

At this age, we can reverse the procedure and ask the children to make a series with everyday objects on their own. For example, boxes, containers, screws, nuts, or whatever they have at hand.

The exercise consists of having the children build the series first and then explaining what criteria they used to determine that order.

Another very effective way to work on this skill without using any element is to use the children themselves to build a series.

Activity # 1

  1. Choose the shortest and tallest student in the group.
  2. Add a third and ask the rest of the children to form a series by size, from the shortest to the tallest, from left to right.
  3. Then, ask them to change the series (from the tallest to the shortest).
  4. Next, they should be asked to continue building this series with all the children in the group: Tall, medium, short, tall, medium, short.
  5. Finally, children should be added to the line so that they can alternate according to the criteria. This will help them understand how to keep the order of the series.
Smiling children holding hands while lined up against a wall.
When children are older, you can encourage them to choose their own sorting criteria and to add new elements to the series already created. Make them part of the activity and let them be the elements of the series themselves!

Activity # 2

A very effective exercise to understand the topic of series is to learn to compare them. For that, keep in mind the following steps:

  1. Divide the group of children into two teams.
  2. Ask each team to make a series with whatever they have on hand: Blocks, plastic bottles, drawings, toys, or pencils. They’ll have complete freedom to choose the elements and the criteria to follow.
  3. Once they finish, each team should observe the other team’s series and explain what criteria were chosen to order the elements.

What is the usefulness of seriation exercises for children?

The proposed exercises follow the logic suggested by Piaget, which indicates that children learn seriation at different stages of development, from the sensory-motor period (early years of life) and up to the period of concrete operations (7- 8 years).

In this span, the following skills are acquired:

  • Recognition of the differences between objects (two or more).
  • Sorting objects according to a common criterion (color, shape, size).
  • Adding new objects to an already constructed series.
  • Correspondence between two series.

This ability to construct and understand seriations is of great importance, as it’s the basis for the acquisition of more complex knowledge. Whether it’s the understanding of numbers or the execution of mathematical operations.

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