According to the Writing Centre at the University of Ottawa, traditional grammar categorises words based on the eight parts of speech. Included in those parts are prepositions, which link nouns and pronouns to other words. To help children grasp the concept of prepositions and correctly identify them in sentences, teachers use classroom exercises that impart fun and enthusiasm.
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Hide a Stuffed Animal
This preposition activity starts with selecting one or two students to wait outside the classroom while a stuffed animal is hidden in the room by the teacher and remaining peers. The animal can be a teddy, lion or other easily-recognised creature. After the animal is adequately hidden, such as under a dustbin, the child or children return to the room. The rest of the class must then answer questions, posed by the selected students, concerning the location of the animal. Questions should be phrased with apparent prepositions, such as, "Is the animal beside a book?" Answers to the questions are used to locate the hidden animal, with each student or pair of students taking a turn.
Simon Says is a time-honoured game appropriate for teaching children lessons in obeyance and grammar. One of those lessons concerns prepositions of place. For such a purpose, typical teacher commands should include, "Simon says put your elbows on your knees," and "Simon says put your hands under your chin." These commands emphasise prepositions and the proper use of them. This game also ensures that students understand more difficult prepositions, such as along and through.
Map Game Show
The Map Game Show activity requires each pair of classroom students to receive a copied local street map with many distinct features. Once the copies are distributed, the teacher silently selects a spot on the map and writes on the chalkboard two descriptive sentences pertaining to the location. The sentences need prepositions, such as "The place is on Main Street and beside the post office." The students must then correctly identify the location.
The game show component follows this initial exercise. As demonstrated by the teacher, students select five locations from the map and describe them with two sentences using prepositions. The teacher, or a pair of students, then collects the locations and corresponding descriptions and reads them aloud to the class. Still working in pairs, the students must guess the locations, and the couple with the most correct answers is deemed the winning pair.
Sing a Song
The goal of learning and singing a song is to help students memorise prepositions for use in their writing. A traditional tune for singing such a song is "Battle Hymn Republic." Keeping the prepositions in alphabetical order, students can then recite the prepositions to the tune, starting with aboard, about, above, and continuing to with, within, without. Teachers should lead the song daily during class, by way of practicing, until students feel comfortable with the memorisation and are ready for a quiz. The quiz is as simple as a blank sheet of paper on which all of the prepositions from the song must be listed.
Create a Storybook
For this exercise, students individually create storybooks that illustrate prepositions. To help the brainstorming process, the teacher should list on the front board common prepositions, such as under and beside. The class usually engages in this process, thinking of words, for example, that describe the position of a squirrel or dog in relation to a tree. Students then use such craft supplies as magazine cut-outs, glitter and writing utensils to create picture books that illustrate the prepositions. After the exercise, students should present their books before the class and discuss the preposition from each page.
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- British Council; Teaching English; Where are You? Prepositions of Place; April 14, 2010
- ESLFlow.com; Preposition Activities; Preposition Activity 2
- Teachers.net; Prepositions Song; Anne Moran; August 9, 2000
- Teachers.ent; Lesson Plans; Prepositions; Amber Karllo; November 30, 2000
- The Writing Centre; University of Ottawa; The Parts of Speech
- The Writing Centre; University of Ottawa; What is a Preposition?