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Language and Communication before after then in sentences  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


The child will understand and start to use the time order concepts 'before', 'after', 'then' in sentences.

Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Curriculum skill:Maths Shape Space and Measures
P-scales/Curriculum level:L1b
TAP skill:Language (old categories)
TAP level:TAP56
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info
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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Timetable Game

A blank timetable for a school day (or week)

Flashcards with lessons and other school day activities on them (e.g. assembly, playtime, literacy, history etc)

Pen and paper or whiteboard

1. Explain that you are going to give instructions and the children should take it in turns to listen to you and put the right things on the timetable.

2. Give an instruction, using 'before', 'after' and 'then'. E.g. 'Before lunch I have numeracy and then handwriting. After lunch I have ICT.'

3. Note down what you have said on paper or a whiteboard so that the children can check later.

4. Have the children take it in turns to put the things on the timetable in the order you have said.

5. Let them check it against your notes.

Give the children a chance to give instructions too.

Simon Says


Play Simon Says, but change the rules. The important thing is not 'Simon' or 'no Simon' it is to get the actions right.

Make sure you use the concepts 'before' 'then' and 'after' in the instructions and that the children do the steps in the same order that you do them. E.g. 'touch your head after you jump on the spot, then clap'.

At first you should choose to either work on 'before' or 'after' or 'then'. Once the children respond to each concept appropriately when used individually, use them contrastively, i.e. mix instructions containing 'before' with others containing 'after'.

Initially you may need to provide plenty of model responses yourself; you may need to build up the sentence to show how they work: for example say 'jump on the spot', then 'touch your head after you jump on the spot'.

Make sure the child listens to the whole instruction.

Make sure that you give each instruction in one go, and not as several short ones.

Barrier games

Pictures to colour



Blank paper



Sets of objects

1. Give each child a picture and a pen / access to the pens. Have one yourself too.

2. Explain to the children that it is important that they colour the things in the same order that you do.

3. Give instructions that use 'before' 'after' 'then', e.g. 'Before you colour the hat, put a circle round the ball', 'circle the house after you draw the door, then draw a road'. Number each step as you do it.

4. Have the children compare what they did to yours.

It can be difficult to see what order children do the steps in, so watch carefully. They may be able to number what they do too, but after they have finished the instruction as it's too much to remember all at once.

Make sure the children cannot see each others sheets to copy!

You can use blank paper and have them draw things rather than colour what is already there. Or you can use objects to make a pattern and the children must make the same as yours.

Picture sequencing to descriptions

Sets of pictures (one for each child) E.g. food pictures, clothes pictures, activities, or topic related words.

1. Explain that you are going to describe something that someone did, and the children need to put he pictures into the right order.

2. Give a description, using 'before', 'after', 'then'. E.g. 'Molly ate the biscuit before she ate the apple. Then she drank the water.' 'Jake put his shoes in his suitcase after he packed his jumper'. Put the relevant pictures into order as you say it.

3. Have the children order the pictures. Then they can check against your pictures.

Have the children take turns giving a description too.

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