Seriation is arranging a set of objects in order by size. There are some preschools that enroll students as young as 2.5 years of age. Many of these students are unable to seriate yet. They are still working on the ability to note and use the vocabulary that goes with big and small. When we begin seriation activities, I start with a set of 3 objects and move up. I consider seriation activities the foundation for ordination skills. That is putting numbers together in the correct order. Seriation activities also allow for critical thinking and problem solving to take place...so yes, please do incorporate these types of activities.
There are some toys and manipulatives out there that you can purchase...but you can also create your own. Here is one set that I've recently purchased and we like. It's lovely for a child just starting out with seriation activities as it gives them a base.
Nesting Sort & Stack Cylinders
This is a GuideCraft toy. They also have the cube shape. I love that they used shades of color. This toy has been used as a jumping board into shades of color and how to make them. :-)
The Melissa and Doug, Alphabet Nesting and Stacking Blocks have been a more recent purchase.
These are great for an older student. I find that because they are made out of cardboard they aren't as durable. I prefer stacking manipulatives that I do not have to constantly remind them to "be gentle". Stacking tends to lead to knocking over. The alphabet on the blocks is a nice addition.
Fisher Price Little Super Star Classical Stacker
(Can you tell I like amazon.com? Free advertisement for them, I guess.) :-)
Especially nice for toddlers and young preschoolers.
Basic Stacking Cups and Stacking Rings often can be found at dollar stores and other general stores. I have a nice wooden stacking ring set that I found at a local dollar store. :-) Nesting animals and objects are nice too, as long as they open and shut easily. We have a set of Nesting Penguins (large penguin with smaller ones inside) that I got on Christmas clearance. My only problem with it is the largest one is hard to open. Over time it's loosening up a bit though. These are really for older students to give them a big of challenge.
Seriation activities are easily made at home to fit a theme.
This is one from the very beginning of the year when a couple of students hadn't been in my program for a school year and I needed a refresher of where they were at.
They sorted the apples by color first then glued in order from largest to smallest. Obviously she had 3 and 4 down but the set of 5 objects was a little more difficult. So I knew where to start.
The Itsy Bitsy Spider
They cut out the three sizes of circles/spiders and glued in order. Then we sang the song..."the great big spider..." "The itsy bitsy spider..." and "The teeny weeny spider..." and changed our voices accordingly.
During our Winter Theme we seriated snowmen.
We can see that he was having some difficulty with a set of 6 pictures. So with a little help in making the sets smaller and adding to them he was able to succeed.
So there are a few that were created with computer/printer. :-) Having a few they glue onto a piece of paper is helpful because then you can display it a bit and reinforce size vocabulary and for older children you can introduce ordinal numbers. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. Also...be sure to ask, "Where is the first (snowman). The last one?" This is something that I sometimes assume a child knows but most do not without a bit of practice.
Some of KidSparkz materials are free to print. I believe that is maybe where I got the snowmen mentioned above. The site address I pasted is directly to their order by size page but look into the other themes/skills and see if there is something you can use!
Using craft foam shapes for a seriation activity during our "shapes" theme.
During our "colors" theme week the children cut out the various colors and sizes of circles to make a target.
These look cool in square and triangle also. I chose the colors so that they were in "rainbow order" so I could better reinforce coloring mixing. Red background and red interior made this possible.
* Different size snowmen with corresponding hat/scarf/broom.
* Read The Three Bears. You can create the Daddy (big), Mommy (medium) and Baby (little) bears and provide pictures of the items in the story in the corresponding size. So a big, medium, small bowl, spoon, chair, bed, etc.
* Craft stores and dollar stores often have holiday and seasonal craft cutouts in 3 or 4 different sizes, typically in foam. Always go through their clearance aisles after a holiday and stock up for the next year. :-)
* Family chore: put piles of towels in order by size as you and your child are folding them to incorporate a bit of seriation. Ours were:Daddy towels (large), Mommy towels (medium), hand towels (small), wash clothes (smaller).
* For new learners of this skill, give them a visual. Provide a set of three objects that are obviously different in size (big, medium, small) and give them a visual using seperate pieces of construction paper or foam sheets (big, medium, and small).
* Cut straws in various lengths and add them to playdough (similar to what was mentioned for patterning.)
* Snap a set of Unifix or Linking cubes together and encourage your child to form a staircase with the different lengths of cubes.