Before She Was Harriet: A Mentor Text for Sequencing

Before She Was Harriett: Mentor Text for Sequencing Cathy Collier

Before She Was Harriet is genius. Sequencing is a crucial comprehension skill that lays the foundation for understanding the order of events in a story…and therein lies the genius!

Before I continue, let me introduce myself. I’m Cathy Collier of Cathy Collier, The WISE Owl. I am happy to swap blogs with Teresa today. I am a former Reading Specialist with a heart for reading. Picture books are my favorite because there is nothing as great as sharing the love of reading. Teresa and I are actually teaming up with 8-10 other blogging teams for this swap. At the end you’ll get a chance to win case and prizes…so make sure you read to the end. After you finish this post, you will want to jump over to my blog and read her post about Cause and Effect.

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to a captivating picture book that not only brings history to life but also encourages young minds to unravel the past through the skill of sequencing. “Before She Was Harriet” by Lesa Cline-Ransome is a remarkable journey told in reverse sequence, offering a unique perspective on the life of the legendary Harriet Tubman.

I do want to pause for a moment and talk about Harriet Tubman. She was quite amazing.

I had the distinct pleasure of going to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Museum in Church Creek, Maryland.

This museum is powerful and quite informative. The museum includes bronze statues of Harriet throughout her life.

It allows the visitor to walk through her life, from enslaved to free to hero. It is also humbling to walk through the museum and on the grounds and know that that ground was once walked by those walking to freedom.

Before She Was Harriett: Mentor Text for Sequencing Cathy Collier

I wrote about my trip and other thoughts on my own blog last year, Harriet Tubman: A Life of Courage, Bravery, and Freedom.

Before delving into the ways we can explore sequencing with our young learners using this book, let’s take a moment to appreciate the superb craftsmanship of Lesa Cline-Ransome’s storytelling technique.

before she was harriet

The Backward Brilliance of “Before She Was Harriet.”

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, Cline-Ransome masterfully weaves the narrative backward, starting with Harriet Tubman in her later years and moving backward in time through her remarkable life. This reverse sequencing not only engages young readers but also prompts them to think critically about the order of events in history. As students turn each page, they uncover the layers of Harriet Tubman’s life, each one contributing to the person she became.

Exploring Sequencing with “Before She Was Harriet”:

Before She Was Harriett: Mentor Text for Sequencing Cathy Collier

1. Interactive Timeline Activities

Encourage students to create an interactive timeline of Harriet Tubman’s life. Provide them with images and key events from the book, allowing them to arrange them in chronological order.

This hands-on activity enhances their understanding of sequencing while fostering creativity.

2. Story Retelling in Reverse

Challenge students to retell the story of “Before She Was Harriet” in reverse.

Start with the last event and work backward, helping them develop a deeper grasp of the concept of sequencing. This activity not only enhances comprehension but also hones their storytelling skills.

3. Visual Sequencing Cards

Create visual sequencing cards representing significant moments from the book. Have students work in pairs to arrange the cards in the correct order, fostering collaboration and reinforcing their grasp of historical timelines.

4. Reflective Journals

Provide students with reflective journals to express their thoughts on the reverse sequencing technique.

Encourage them to articulate how this storytelling approach enhances their understanding of history and Harriet Tubman’s legacy. Ask students to create a reverse sequencing story for themselves.

Before I was in third grade, I was learning about magnets in second grade.

Before She Was Harriett: Mentor Text for Sequencing Cathy Collier

Before I was in second grade, I was learning about caterpillars in first grade. Before I was in first grade, I was learning about frogs in Kindergarten.” Ask them to think of themselves in reverse.

“Before She was Harriet” is a powerful tool for teaching sequencing to first to third-grade students. Through its reverse storytelling, the book not only captivates young minds but also instills a deep appreciation for the importance of knowing and understanding the order of events in history. As teachers, let’s harness the magic of this remarkable picture book to empower our students to unravel the past and develop critical comprehension skills that will serve them well throughout their academic journey. Teresa also has a blog post about the wonderful mentor text of American Freedom, Henry’s Freedom Box.

Before She Was Harriett: Mentor Text for Sequencing Cathy Collier

Before She Was Harriet FREE Set today is included with this blog post. You’ll need to provide your email and you’ll be added to my newsletter, but you are welcome to unsubscribe at any time! I do hope you’ll stay. The FREE set includes 9 stages in Harriet’s life told in reverse. Students will match the written word to the picture and make a folding book.

If you like this freebie, take a look at the whole set: Harriet Tubman Reading And Writing Activities for an American Hero.

Before She Was Harriett: Mentor Text for Sequencing Cathy Collier

This Harriet Tubman set includes:

  • Word Search
  • Word Sort (people, places, things, and actions)
  • Syllable Sort
  • ABC Order
  • Beginning Sound Match
  • Harriet Tubman 4 Square Writing
  • Where is Harriet Tubman? Flap Sheet
  • Adding Sets to 12 Math Quilts
  • Timeline with Traceable Words
  • Timeline with More Details
  • ABC’s of Harriet Tubman for a Class Book or Wall Display


Before She Was Harriet: A Mentor Text for Sequencing
Before She Was Harriet: A Mentor Text for Sequencing
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