Choose the classification system you would like to use:

Newsletter sign up

Sign up to the monthly newsletter to hear about the latest free resources.

Sign me up to:



Language and Communication Understand and use ordinals (1st, 2nd, 3rd etc)  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


The pupil will understand and use ordinals, both in relation to the position of objects/people and a series of actions.

Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Curriculum skill:Maths Number and Algebra
P-scales/Curriculum level:L2
TAP skill:Language (old categories)
TAP level:TAP72
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Write it

Writing materials

  1. Explain that you are going to talk about what words such as “first”, “second” and “third” mean.
  2. Ask the child to write the numerals 1-10 in order one below each other.
  3. Explain that when something is in “number one place”, we say it is ‘first’ etc.
  4. Show the child how to write the words “first”, “second”, “third” and so on.
  5. Show them how to change the numeral by adding ‘st’, ‘nd’, ‘rd’ or ‘th’ (1 → 1st, 2 → 2nd, 3 → 3rd, 4 → 4th etc.). Point out that you add the last 2 letters of the written word to the numeral.
  6. Point out that you usually add ‘th’, but that first, second and third are different.

This works best 1:1.

Use this activity only with a child who can read and write. With children with less good literacy skills, you will need to talk about what you are going to focus on, but miss out the written support.

With children who can cope with larger numbers, you might want to go beyond 10, be careful to explain how numbers such as 21st, 22nd and 23rd are formed.

Line up


  1. When the class are lined up, talk about who is standing in “second place” or “sixth place” etc.
  2. Ask the child to step out of the line so they can look at their peers. Ask them to say who is first or third etc. Then give them the name of a child and ask where that person is standing in the line.
  3. Ask the class to say their place in the line, in order (i.e., “first”, “second”, “third” and so on).

This works best with a class or group.

You may want to focus more on the front of the line.


Equipment as required by the PE activity

  1. During PE lessons, talk about who came first, second etc. in races. 
  2. When children are waiting for a turn at an activity talk about who will do it first, second etc.
  3. When asking the children to carry out a series of actions, stress the words “first”, “second”, “third” etc. as you give the instruction.

This works best with a class.

Small World

Small world equipment, including several ‘people’.

  1. Use small world equipment to act out situations where people are in a queue, for example waiting to get on a bus or waiting for a turn on playground equipment.
  2. Talk about where each person is in the line, and ask the child to show you who is, for example, fourth.

This works best 1:1.

This activity is more suited to younger children.


Equipment as required by the actions.

Visual prompt cards if required.

  1. Ask the child to carry out a series of actions, e.g. “first - touch your nose, second – point to the window, third – clap.” If you are giving a series of instructions and the child can’t remember them, provide prompt cards showing the actions they have to carry out. 
  2. Ask the child to give instructions to you or their peers.

This works best 1:1 or with a small group.

Make sure you stress words such as “first”, “second” etc.

Bear in mind the child’s auditory memory – the more instructions you give, the harder it will be to remember them.

If you find the Commtap site useful, please fill out a review of it on EdTech impact. This really helps us to get funding to continue running the site. Thank you!
Ads on this page are provided by Google Adsense - and their presence does not imply any endorsement by Commtap. Report a problem with an ad on this page. Log in (for free) to avoid seeing ads.