On Monday I shared with you one of the fun games that my students and I play to practice prepositions, Mousy Prepositions (paper, digital). Of course prepositions is not an easy topic and we practice it quite a bit, so we need more than one game. Today I’d like to share with you three other activities that my students particularly enjoy when learning prepositions: Going Buggy for Prepositions, Preposition Pictionary, and Lego Preposition Build.
Going Buggy for Prepositions
Going Buggy for Prepositions is an activity is based off of The Insect Game, which I read about in a book that I’ve long forgotten the title of. To play you will need plastic toy insects, a set of noun cards, and a set of preposition cards. The free download linked above, and via the button below, will give you noun and preposition cards you can print. I recommend printing the noun and preposition cards on a different colors of paper to make separating them easier. Place students in groups of 2-4 and give each a set of supplies (at least one insect and set of cards per group, but my students always want their own insects). On their turn, each student draws a noun card and a preposition card. The student must then make his/her insect demonstrate the chosen preposition with the selected noun. If he/she is able to do so, he/she gets a point. This game is not quite as exciting as those that follow, but it does get the students up and moving, which is generally a good thing.
I wish I had some great inspiration story to share with this game but, as is often the case, it was born out of desperation. There was some kind of problem in the building, nothing serious, but all students were told to remain in their current classrooms until further notice. Since we’d already been together for over an hour that day, the students quickly began to get restless. I wanted our time together to be productive in some way, but I didn’t want it to be boring. We’d been practicing prepositions, but had already played Going Buggy for Prepositions, and I was struggling to keep students engaged. One of the students started doodling on the board and another started trying to guess what she was drawing. Then it hit me, Prepositions Pictionary! I grabbed the prepositions cards from Going Buggy for Prepositions, quickly divided the students into two teams, and explained the basic rules of Pictionary to them. On a team’s turn, one person would come up, draw a preposition card and, without showing it to anyone but me, illustrate the preposition on the board. Their teammates would then have to try and guess the preposition being drawn. If they were successful before time ran out (I gave them 60 seconds), they got a point. If not, the other team got one chance to guess. They LOVED it! When the announcement came dismissing them to the next class they actually groaned aloud. From then on Preposition Pictionary was the game they begged to play when we had extra time. One enterprising group even revised the rules because there was a field trip and only three people were in attendance. They decided to play as individuals. If you guessed the preposition you got two points and the right to be the next illustrator. The illustrator whose illustration lead to the correct guess received one point.
Lego Preposition Build
Who doesn’t love Legos? I always kept some in my classroom and even my middle schoolers liked just sitting at a table (or on the floor) and building things while chatting quietly with a friend. Some might say they were wasting time, but I think it was a great brain break, and since they were usually talking in English, in an ESL classroom, it was good speaking practice. We also used the Legos in our math lessons (especially when learning fractions), but I always wanted to use them in a grammar lesson. Then one day I received an email with picture instructions for building some object out of Legos and it hit me: prepositions!
That summer I looked for the best deal I could find on Legos and bought some extra (This Classic Set was the best deal I found, especially since I had the time to wait for a sale.). I also saved and printed all of the building directions I could find, which ended up being 50 in total. I have uploaded the pdfs to a Google Drive folder and the button below this post will allow you to view the folder. You will want to either download the files you want, or save a copy to your own drive, to ensure continued access. By the time school rolled around that fall, I was ready to go.
The students partnered off and arranged themselves at tables around the room. I gave a bin of Legos to each set of four students and one of each pair received a set of picture instructions, which they were not to show their partner. The student with the instructions then told their partner which Legos to choose and how to arrange them to form the object in the picture. Since the picture instructions already had the process broken down into steps the student could concentrate on giving clear instructions without worrying about how the object was built. After the building phase was complete students compared the picture to the final product to see how they did. The next day (or the same day when I had a block schedule) the partners switched roles and completed the activity again, but with a new picture. The students loved it and practiced a lot more than just prepositions. The next year when some of my repeat students heard we were going to work on prepositions again they specifically asked to do this activity.
Well, to quote the Looney Toons, “That’s all folks!” Those are four of my best best non-worksheet preposition practice activities. Unfortunately I’ve only managed to translate Mousy Prepositions to the digital world, but I’m still thinking about the others. If I get hit with inspiration, or discover a great resource, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, happy teaching!
January 2021 Update: check out Picture Perfect Prepositions for another fun non-worksheet preposition practice activity!
October 2022 Update: check out Where Do I Need To Go? for yet another free, non-worksheet activity that includes preposition practice!