Practice with Prepositions (Part Two)

In a previous posting, I responded to a request for classroom ideas for teaching prepositions. I offered two activities for prepositions of location. In this follow-up posting, I’ll offer ideas for teaching prepositions of direction.

  • Follow the Bouncing Ball

Use this approach for presenting or reviewing prepositions of direction. Bring in a small ball (a tennis ball or ping pong ball) and a shoe box with two “doors” cut out on the long ends. Show the different directions the ball can take: through, over, around, along, toward, etc. With two boxes you can demonstrate between.

VARIATION: Bring in enough balls and boxes so that students can model the directions themselves. Give one box and one ball to each small group. You call out a direction (e.g., The ball rolls toward the box.) and students take turns in their groups showing the correct direction.

  • Follow the Hamster & Other Critters

You can watch very brief video clips modeling different prepositions of direction. Prepare a fill-in-the-blank exercise to accompany each clip. Use my suggestions and/ or find your own:

  1. Clip 1 (Hamster): The hamster is crawling [through] the tube.
  2. Clip 2 (Hamster): The hamster went [up] the ladder, [down] the slide, [in] the sandbox.
  • How-To Solutions

Describe brief situations involving a problem that can only be solved by stating a direction someone or someone must take. Use my ideas below or create your own. Students can discuss their ideas in pairs and then offer a solution to the class. Remind students that solutions must make use of prepositions of direction. (You can list choices on the board as prompts.)

1. You forgot your key to your first floor apartment. There is no one to help you. You look at the windows of your apartment and see that they aren’t very high off the ground. How will you get into your home?

Model: I’ll find something to stand on, and I’ll go through the window.

2. You’re in the woods, and there’s a bear coming. You see some tall trees close to you. Your car is behind the bear. What will you do?

3. You’re a small monkey in a zoo. You want to run away. There’s a low fence, but many visitors are standing near it. There’s a tall gate, and no one is near it. How will you get out of the zoo?

4. It’s night, and your car broke down. You’re looking for a gas station. You begin to walk and then see a tunnel. It’s very dark in there, and the road is very narrow. Train tracks are nearby, and they go around the big hill. How will you get to the other side?

5. You’re traveling on horseback, and you come to a small bridge. You see the bridge is very old and may break. The bridge is over a small river.  How will you get to the other side?

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Nina Liakos says:

    Hi Jennifer! I’ve been reading through your TESOL Convention posts plus a few more. Thanks for the good ideas for articles and prepositions!

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      Thanks for visiting, Nina! TESOL was a wonderful experience this year. I hope my posts encourage teachers to attend in 2011. The Electronic Village is a great experience in itself, as you well know! I’m happy to spread the word about EV and EVO (The Electronic Village Online).

  2. Mahesh Prarambha says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Your posts are extremely useful to anyone who adrently cares about learning English. Do keep your generous efforts up. Thank you

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      Thank you for the support!

  3. Great post — thanks very much! Prepositions are always really hard for people to grasp at first because they seem so random, so it’s useful to have such more ideas for teaching them. I’ll recommend this page to all my friends who are learning English!

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