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Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Sequencing
Ages: 6-12   Grades: 1-7

Focus on basic sequencing skills, and then apply them to a variety of classroom tasks.  Whether it's sequencing words, steps in a task, or events in a narrative, students learn to think logically and talk about what they are doing.


  • Improve language-based thinking and problem solving
  • Logically sequence words, numbers, and information
  • Sequence story pictures and story text
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** This is a Cloud E-Book that is accessible from any device with Internet access. .

The book begins with simple activities like sequencing numbers, patterns, words in sentences, and steps in a task.  Activities advance to sequencing by quantity, length, size, time, and priority.  Classroom skills include making a timeline, sequencing a life cycle, and sequencing story pictures and written stories.   

The book is written in the proven format of the Spotlight Series with: 

  • activities sequenced by complexity
  • visual cues that are gradually faded
  • skills defined in student-friendly terms
  • a variety of curricular and daily living topics
  • simple sentence structure and vocabulary so students can focus on learning the concepts 
  • minimal writing requirements in the beginning lessons
  • a pretest/posttest

You may purchase Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Sequencing individually or as part of the 6-book Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving set.  The 6-book set consists of:

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Causes & Effects

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Comparing & Contrasting

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Facts & Opinions

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Making Predictions & Inferences

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Sequencing

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Solving Problems


Copyright © 2007

40 pages, pretest/posttest, answer key
  • Reasoning skills encourage critical thinking and meta-awareness of internal thought processes.  Reasoning skills support students' logical judgments based on conscious reflection and sensitivity to multiple viewpoints (Little, 2002).
  • Reasoning and critical thinking are necessary skills for competence across the curriculum.  They require students to examine, relate, and analyze all aspects of a problem or situation.  Students engaged in critical thinking must make associations that connect problems with their prior knowledge (Pellegrini, 1995).
  • Questioning is the core of critical reflection.  It prompts students to engage in a research process that fosters higher-order thinking skills and social-moral attitudes (Daniel et al., 2005).
  • Explicitly teaching and reinforcing inference-making leads to better outcomes in overall text comprehension, text engagement, and metacognitive thinking (Borné, Cox, Hartgering, & Pratt, 2005).

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Sequencing incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Borné, L., Cox, J., Hartgering, M., & Pratt, E. (2005). Making inferences from text [Overview]. Dorchester, MA: Project for School Innovation.

Daniel, M.F., Lafortune, L., Pallascio, R., Splitter, L., Slade, C., & de la Garza, T. (2005). Modeling the development process of dialogical critical thinking in pupils aged 10 to 12 years. Communication Education, 54(4), 334-354.

Little, C. (2002). Reasoning as a key component of language arts curricula. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 13(2), 52-59.

Pellegrini, J. (1995). Developing thinking and reasoning skills in primary learners using detective fiction. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 1. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from


Paul Johnson, Carolyn LoGiudice


Paul F. Johnson, B.A., and Carolyn LoGiudice, M.S., CCC-SLP,
are editors and writers for LinguiSystems.  They have collaborated to develop several publications, including Story Comprehension To Go, No-Glamour Sequencing Cards, and Spotlight on Reading & Listening Comprehension.  Paul and Carolyn share a special interest in boosting students' language, critical thinking, and academic skills.

In their spare time, Paul and Carolyn enjoy their families, music, gourmet cooking, and reading.  Paul, a proud father of three children, also enjoys bicycling, playing music, and spending rare moments alone with his wife, Kenya.  Carolyn is learning to craft greeting cards and spoil grandchildren.


Reasoning and problem solving are not simply life skills, they are quality of life skills.  Throughout our lives, the abilities to reason and solve problems are the difference between succeeding or failing in academic pursuits, making good and bad everyday decisions, and improving or destroying social relationships.

The world assumes we come to it with well-developed reasoning and problem-solving skills, but that is not always the case.  Because of language delays and other factors, many students lack basic skills to achieve positive outcomes in academic and everyday living situations.

The goal of Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving is to build skills, step-by-step, using a focused instructional approach.  The situations students will use for practice in these books are ones many of them have faced or will face throughout their lives.  We support the approach that Richard Paul suggests in his landmark 1990 book, Critical Thinking:

". . . because we can form new ideas, beliefs, and patterns of thought only through the scaffolding of our previously formed thought, it is essential that we learn to think critically in environments in which a variety of competing ideas are taken seriously." (page xv)

Before students can reach and approach the kind of proficiency Paul describes, they must fully understand and master the building blocks of reasoning and problem solving.  Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving presents six crucial areas for developing the language-based thinking skills that, when mastered, provide students with the tools to become better thinkers and problem solvers:

  • Causes & Effects
  • Making Predictions & Inferences
  • Comparing & Contrasting
  • Sequencing
  • Facts & Opinions
  • Solving Problems

Most students will benefit from working through each book from beginning to end.  Even if a student's proficiency is beyond the initial activities presented, the feeling of success he experiences by mastering them will motivate him to approach the more challenging activities that follow with confidence.

Before and during lessons on sequencing, highlight specific vocabulary terms that will help your students think about and talk about what they are doing.  Beyond obvious sequencing words like before and after, these words are helpful for thinking and talking about sequencing:

          intensity                 volume                    power

          responsibility         importance            priority

          prioritize                 value                      worth

          cause                     consequence         predict

          result                      outcome

Spotlight on Reasoning & Problem Solving Sequencing begins with lessons to explore sequencing in a variety of ways, including repeating patterns, putting words into sentences, and alphabetizing.  Next, students sequence the steps to complete a task.  Then, activities address other common ways we sequence information or things by amount, dimension, time, intensity, and priority.  Students then apply sequencing to lessons similar to classroom tasks, such as completing a timeline or following the life cycle of an animal.  Later activities in this book relate to stories and narratives, giving students a chance to practice using sequencing words in both speaking and reading.

The lesson on Identifying Sequence Words offers practice in identifying common sequencing terms in text; encourage your students to spot such words in other classroom reading, and also alert them that we can't depend on such words alone to tell us the sequence of events.  Sometimes we need to make inferences to understand an implied sequence within what we read or hear.  The final activity in this book is a reusable template for solving a problem, highlighting the use of sequencing skills effectively in daily situations.  Here are other ways to focus attention on sequencing as a reasoning tool:

  • Arrange your students in small groups and give each group an assortment of buttons (25-50 buttons).  Ask each group to determine a way to sequence the buttons and then share their sequencing with the entire group.  Try the same process with other items, such as seashells, leaves, or pictures of vehicles.
  • Provide a scale and some objects your students can weigh.  Help them make a chart to show the sequence of weight of the objects.
  • Ask your students to line themselves up in a sequence by height.  Have a tape measure available for their reference.
  • Ask four students to volunteer to be sequenced.  Then think of a non-threatening trait and arrange the students according to this trait (height, alphabetical order of first or last name, number of different colors in clothing, age, curliness of hair, etc.).  Challenge the watching students to determine the trait reflected by your sequence.
  • Demonstrate the use and value of graphic organizers for some sequencing tasks, especially for timelines and events within stories or text.
  • Cut a news article or a short story into paragraphs and have your students sequence the paragraphs so that the connected text makes good sense.

We hope you and your students enjoy working through these activities together, and we are certain that with your guidance, your students' reasoning and problem-solving skills will improve with each completed page.

Paul and Carolyn