Dr. Jan Van Dijk developed the sequence box as a strategy to help students who are blind or deaf-blind learn to anticipate events and mentally sequence the day's activities. It helps students understand such concepts as "work", "finished", "next", "more work" and moving sequentially, left to right. The sequence box involves a selection of objects to represent activities occurring during the day. It communicates to the student what will happen during the day.
A sequence box can be made with different materials such as adhering pieces of wood together; by securing small plastic tubs together side-by-side; and by attaching shoe boxes the same way. It is important that there be a way to separate each activity for the student and that the size of each section accommodate the representational object for each activity. It should have at least three sections or as many as eight.
To use correctly:
- Make a list of objects/activities and use them consistently. Select objects that fit the spaces of the calendar and that represents the activity or are an actual PART of the activity. Use objects that are familiar and will be recognized out of context.
- Before each day begins, place the objects left-to-right in the box and honor this sequence as the day progresses.
- Ideally, have the box on or close to the student's desk/work table in the same place or keep it by the desk and place and remove as each activity occurs.
- At the beginning of the day, have the student feel each box and object left-to-right and give each a name sign. Go through ALL the boxes at the beginning.
- Then go back to the first object, have student remove it, do the activity and when finished, throw the object in a "finish box" (a carton or tub is fine) to the right of the whole sequence box. Help the student return to the box, feel the empty space and move onto the next compartment with an object in it, always moving left to right.
- If you run out of compartments for the activities you have planned daily, fill the box twice: once for the morning activities and once for the afternoon activities.
- Try to avoid "surprise activities" or, if you know there's going to be a birthday party or a treat, have an object that represents "surprise" and put it in one of the compartments.
Consistent use of the sequence box will help you plan your teaching more effectively and enable the student to better comprehend their day-to-day world. Whenever possible, have certain events occur at the same time daily, such as lunch, gym and grooming.
Once the student has mastered the sequence box for daily activities, a sequence box could be created to represent the different days of the week. Each compartment would represent a day of the week and an object would be used that represents an activity or event that occurs on that day. If swimming happens every Monday then a pair of goggles or a swim cap could be used to represent that day. Do this for each day of the week. On Monday, at the beginning of the week, have the student feel each compartment and sign the day and the activity sign as the student touches the object. Then, have the student remove the first object and you then place it in the compartment of the daily activities box where that special activity occurs as the day progresses. It will then be placed in the "finish box" when finished. On Tuesday, have the student first use the M-F box, feel the first empty space and, moving left to right, find the "Tuesday" compartment and remove and use the object as described for Tuesday. You may also want to select an object that represents no school or vacation days to communicate to the student when there will be no school. Remember be creative and consistent!