Picture Perfect Prepositions

In October, I blogged about some of my students’ favorite preposition practice activities, Mousy Prepositions and More Preposition Fun. Today I’d like to share with you yet another fun, and free (utilizes common classroom supplies), preposition practice activity or assessment: Picture Perfect Prepositions, a scavenger hunt activity.

The goal of this activity is to assess students’ understanding of various prepositions. Most of our practice activities are very hands-on, requiring students to demonstrate their knowledge of prepositions, which is great. The problem lies in my having something concrete to assess. As I alluded to in my last post, Authentic Open Book Assessments?, I prefer to give open ended, even project based, assessments. If I can find a game, or activity based assessment, so much the better. This prepositions scavenger hunt is the perfect assessment in my opinion. It is very hands-on, provides the students opportunity to be creative, gives me an authentic and accurate assessment of their knowledge, is fun, and even results in a classroom display!

The teacher preparation of this activity is very fast. All I do is prepare a list of 5-10 prepositions that I want to assess. Occasionally I’ll give a list of 15-20 prepositions, and allow students to choose which to include in their final submission. I adjust the number of required words based on how much time we have in class to do the activity. After preparing my list, all I have to do is grab my box of old magazines and catalogs (anything with pictures that students can cut up; I keep a box in my basement and throw in anything that comes in the mail from magazines to Christmas toy catalogs, to advertisements), some glue sticksscissors, and white copy paper. Everything else is up to the students.

Students then hunt for, and cut out, pictures that represent each preposition, glue them onto the copy paper, and write a sentence that describes the picture using the target preposition. As you can see from the pictures, their grammar isn’t always perfect, and their sentences are often very simple, but it is clear they understand the prepositions.

Every student is different in how long he/she takes to complete this project, but on average it takes my high

beginner to low intermediate students about two 45 minute class periods to complete ten sentences (allowing time for students to get materials out, work, and clean up each day).

​I tell students to write their names on the back of the pictures (though they don’t always listen to that part of the directions), and after I record grades, I put the pictures up in our classroom for everyone to enjoy. While it may not be the prettiest of classroom displays, my administrators have always had positive things to say about the students’ work, and are generally impressed at the level of language they are able to produce. 

My students have always found scavenger hunts to be fun activities, and I am able to check my students’ mastery of many skills that would otherwise be relegated to boring worksheet-based assessments. Stay tuned, because on Thursday I’m going to share a similar activity we do with adjectives. Happy teaching, everyone!

October 2022 Update: check out Where Do I Need To Go? for yet another free, non-worksheet activity that includes preposition practice!