Patterns and Sequence

By Activity Bank on Nov 05, 2013

This activity has been revised and was originally created by Charlotte Cushman and published in the Perkins Activity and Resource Guide (1st edition, 1992).  The second edition is available for purchase.

With students who have multiple disabilities, sequencing is best taught using actual items or objects in their natural setting. This activity will help students to reproduce a given pattern and follow a given sequence in systematic progression, while learning to identify concepts such as “before,” “after,” “first” and “last.” Lessons include English Language Arts, Independent Living, Math and Social Skills.


Materials will depend upon the specific activity.


  • Have the student reproduce the following patterns:
    • A place setting
    • Clothes in a drawer in a left-to-right sequence (underwear, socks, T-shirts)
    • Clothes on a clothesline (sock, shirt, pants)
    • Items in a schedule box (see “Schedule Box” activity)
    • Object pattern (cup, sock, comb)
  • Have the student follow the sequences below in left-to-right, top-to-bottom progression:
    • Place cups in a dish rack.
    • Place envelopes in a row of mailboxes.
    • Place muffin papers in muffin tins.
    • Place bottles in cartons with cardboard dividers.clothes drawer contents


  • Help the student to determine what comes first, next, last, before and after.
  • Any sequence of items can be placed in jigs or divided boxes.
  • Assembly tasks are an excellent way to reinforce sequencing skills. Have the student place several items in a given container in sequence.
  • Have the student perform motor movements in sequence – hands over head, touch waist, touch toes. Then ask the student to repeat.

Hint: Discuss the sequence of activities that students perform throughout the day. Talk about what you need to do first or last, before or after: “Before we go outside, we need to put on our coats.”