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Language and Communication Before and after in time  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


To understand and use the concepts "before" and "after" related to time.

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Early years skill:Shape, space and measure
Early years typical range:40-60+m
P-scales/Curriculum skill:Maths Shape Space and Measures
P-scales/Curriculum level:P8
TAP skill:Language (old categories)
TAP level:TAP48
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Do the actions


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' 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'.

At first you should choose to either work on "before" or "after". 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 before doing it.

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

What happened?

Written sentences

(use pictures/symbols to support those with reading difficulties)


Provide the student with a sentence with 'before' or 'after' and they have to identify what happened first and what happened second.

For example:

  1. I ate my sandwich after I finished my drink;
  2. Sam bought some crisps before he went to football training;
  3. I poured my drink after I took the lid off.

Initially provide the sentence to the student in a written format so that they can re-read the sentence and then circle what happened first in one colour and what happened second in another colour.

If the student has difficulties with reading these sentences, put a picture symbol above each part of the sentence, for example someone eating a sandwich above "I ate my sandwich", an appropriate symbol for "after" and a picture symbol for "I finished my drink". Software is available for creating sentences like this, for example:

As the student becomes more confident provide the sentence with no visual support.

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