Jenna and I are always brainstorming together fun ways to get our students learning and speaking.
We love it when we come up with great ideas that really work. And last week we had some outstanding results – as well as great laughs– even with our most reluctant speakers!
Prepositions can be tricky to learn so we try to stimulate as many senses as possible before getting kids to use the words in spoken and written exercises.
Prepositions of place are perfect place to start kids off because you can add so much movement into the games. Here are some the ones we played with kids between 3 and 8 years old.
We have been regularly singing our own version of the nursery song Open, close them for a few years now.
We sing our new verse and use our hands to perform the actions. To start, hold one hand out in front of you and move the other one while you sing:
Over, under. Over, under
In front and behind (hold your hand in front of your face, and then behind your head)
Left side, right side (place your hand on either side)
Left side, right side
On top, between, beside. (Place your hand on top of your head, between your feet and next to you)
To mix it up, kids sing the song holding all sorts of different objects like blocks, small toys, leaves, coloured balls and crafts. We often sing it slower and faster and fastest! Softer and louder, loudest!! – and I’ll leave you to guess which combinations the kids love to sing the most.
It was a great teaching moment for us to see children who learnt the song when they first started a few years ago and are now using the lyrics and actions to help them complete writing tasks. To pardon the pun, it was like everything suddenly fell into place for them.
This is especially fun with small children and a couple of stuffed toys.
Place two chairs in a row with a gap in between. Then the teachers ask the kids to sit on, stand behind, on the left, the right or between the chairs and so on.
The fun starts when the kids get to have a turn and they call out directions to arrange themselves. Our poor soft-toy dog gets squashed under a chair, sits on top of someone’s head or someone sits on top of him!
Another great one we play with the smaller kids. We have a box full of different coloured blocks and we dump them out onto the carpet – always a fun way to start!!
Then we have sort the blocks with lots of enthusiasm and speed! For example, the teacher calls out “Let’s put all the blue blocks into the box! And the yellow ones under the box! Let’s put all the green ones on top of the box! Then let’s take all the blue blocks out of the box…” and the ones on the lid all fall off behind the box when we lift the lid! It is laughs, learning and giggles.
Once the kids warm up, they are eager to have a go at calling out directions. As well as practicing prepositions, they are practicing colours, sentence structure and counting – because of course we had to count every colour group to see which had the most and the least!
For the older kids, we played as warm up “Classroom items eye spy”. Their classroom table was covered with a huge jumble of classroom items – pens, pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, erasers, staplers, rulers, paper clips and so on.
Kids had to call out directions to see if the others could guess what the item was. For example “I spy with my little eye something that is between a pencil and an eraser”. Given the amount of objects on the table, there was often more than one thing between them – and they had to give another hint. And so on.
This worked at treat! Particularly for some of our reluctant talkers who don’t like to talk in front of the whole group, even though we are a maximum of 6, or are shy to talk in front of the teacher.
After drilling vocabulary, kids were paired off each equipped with a colouring-in page of loungeroom on a clip board and some coloured pencils. Kids had to take turns calling out objects to colour in. For example “colour the bag on the sofa red”. Fantastic fun.
We sometimes use digital games for some extra educational fun. We found a super website with a prepositions of place game and let the kids take turns. The game was very simple. At the bottom of the screen there were three objects and a direction. You had to read the direction and place the correct object in the correct spot.
For the younger kids, teachers did the reading. For the older kids, this was a nice way to get them to practice reading in English.
Do you have any other suggestions for us? We would love to hear about them.