The ability to sequence events in the correct order is an important foundation for a number of language skills. Sequencing is an important part of comprehension because it enables the child to map new information into a framework.
Many of the children I work with, whizz through sequence cards in a robotic fashion without much thought. There are a number of commercially available sequencing cards and apps available, but SPARK cards have included additional elements in their sequences that make them stand out.
SPARK cards contain 8 sequence sets comprising 6 pictures each. The cards are color coded for easy access and have a corresponding color tab. They include the following scenes:
- Going to the library
- Making a lemonade stand
- Preparing for a hurricane
- Planting flowers
- A trip to the beach
- Setting the table
- Playing football
SPARK cards come with a guide-card for each sequencing set to target a number of additional skills.
Sequencing and sentence formulation: The cards can be used with all 6 cards in the set or with 3 to 4 cards. Using 3 cards is a great way to work on inferencing and prediction because once possible scenarios have been discussed, the extra cards can be added in. The student can then elaborate on the information.
Predicting, problem solving, picture interpretation: The guide cards provide a number of hypothetical problems to discuss. Although I haven’t used the cards yet in written language tasks, I think that the problem solving questions are a great way to work on written expression. For example, discuss what the girl could do if her father couldn’t take the dog to the vet. Write a dialogue between the girl and her dad, while they are waiting at the vet.
Analyzing and answering ‘wh’ questions: There are a number of ‘wh’ questions that are included on the guide cards.
Retelling and reasoning: Retelling the sequence as a basis for a story is a great way to incorporate more complex sentence structures.
Knowledge of basic concepts and vocabulary: Activating background knowledge is an important aspect of comprehension. The detail on each card facilitates discussion around a great variety of topics and vocabulary. For example, the going to the vet sequence has a man with a guide dog in the picture. This facilitated vocabulary around guide-dogs and their role, different breeds of dogs, and the 5 senses.
Sequencing is only one of the factors that affect comprehension. Other factors that affect comprehension can be found here.
SPARK cards are a versatile tool to use for many different language levels. I am sure that as I use them, I will discover new ways to incorporate the cards. I would love to hear some suggestions.
The downside of the cards is that they are very culture specific.
We don’t play football in South-Africa, nor do we have hurricanes. Sadly, trips to the library tend to be confined to the school day, and children don’t go to public libraries with their parents any more. That is not to say that children shouldn’t know about these things, and perhaps this is a good way to learn about other cultures.
SPARK Cards are now available directly from The Spark Innovations for $34.95
While you are at it, check out Set 2 and the Junior Edition
Thank you to SPARK INNOVATIONS for sending me this product to review. All opinions are my own.