Mousy Prepositions

Mousy Prepositions: Paper Version
Mousy Prepositions: Digital

I don’t remember a lot of specifics from  my seventh grade ELA class. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a good teacher, I had a great one (and one who had to endure not only me, but my two younger brothers as well, and still smiles when he sees us!). No, my teacher was not the problem, the problem was it was seventh grade and…well, you remember seventh grade! The long and the short of it is that seventh grade is not a good time of life, and one that is generally best left to the past. I do, however, remember one test in particular. The grammar topic was prepositions, and the test was to take a blank sheet of paper and write a list of all the prepositions in the English language, or at least the most common 30 or so (it sure felt like all of them!). In true middle school girl fashion I was panicked, convinced I’d fail, the world as I knew it would end, and my life would be over (see what I mean about a time best forgotten?). My mother very calmly looked at me and said, “Prepositions are easy. Just think of everything a mouse can do to a box.” That, among a few other famous mnemonic devices (I’ll forever remember the capitol of Nebraska because, according to my mother, “Lincoln had big knees, but he never went to Nebraska.”), became my academic salvation. I did pass my test, and to this day, prepositions, mice, and boxes are forever linked in my brain.

When I became and ESL teacher and had to teach prepositions, my students were whining and struggling, my mother’s mnemonic device was echoing in my ears, and I did what I always do when faced with a boring grammar concept that must be mastered: I created a game. Prepositions are visual and I wasn’t satisfied with simply making a board game with cards and tokens, I needed a mouse and a box! The mouse was relatively easy to obtain, they are plentiful and cheap in the pet section of any store. The box posed a bit more of a challenge as I needed something the mouse could be in, on, go through, etc. After thinking about it for awhile, I took an old shoe box and wrapped it in black bulletin board paper, being sure to wrap the lid separately. Then I cut a hole through each side of it, making a tunnel for my mouse to pass through. A quick game board and some cute preposition cards decorated with mouse clipart, and Mousy Prepositions was born. ​Students could draw a card, read the preposition, use the mouse and box to demonstrate the preposition, and (if correct) roll a number cube to advance on the board. My students loved it and my only challenge was keeping my pet cats away from the toy mice. 😀

Now that digital learning has become a necessity, I didn’t want to give up my fun game, so created a Digital Mousy Prepositions game as well. I simply turned the game board into an image file and inserted it onto a PowerPoint slide that I’d resized to 17×11 (see my earlier blog posts Alphabet Adjective Zig Zag and Too or Enough for more information on how I create my game boards). The clip art for the mice and boxes was easily obtained from Pixaby. The part that I had to think about was the prepositions. I really didn’t want my students having to click from slide to slide to “draw” a card, as they do in other games that utilize the game play script my husband wrote me. I wanted them to play the entire game on the slide that held the game board. The answer ended up being a custom prepositions script, again written by my husband, combined with the dice script he’d previously written. The resulting game was something students could play on a single slide, with minimal clicks. Take a look and see for yourself:

I owe a big thank you to both my seventh grade ELA teacher and my mother for inspiring these fun (and free) games. My students definitely think this is a much more enjoyable way to learn prepositions than endless pictures and worksheets with questions such as: “The ball is ____ the desk.” Stay tuned later this week for two other rodent-free fun (and free) ways my students and I practice prepositions.

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!