7 Engaging Games And Activities For Learning Prepositions

The requirement to learn English is quite evident as people across the globe understand it better than other languages. Statistics reveal that nearly 1.3 billion people speak English making it the most common medium of instruction and communication. Hence, it is important to master it to accomplish various objectives.

To be an effective communicator in English, children are trained in this language from an early age. We have discussed in our previous posts phonics, spellings, etc. These are the building blocks of English reading and writing skills. Moving up to the higher complexity level of concepts, children are introduced to Grammar. Parts of speech is an important lesson in Grammar; a preposition is one of them. In this post, we bring you preposition games and activities that can ease learning for language beginners.

Teaching prepositions is important

The typical English grammar lesson will introduce Prepositions as those words that express a spatial or temporal[1] relation of the object it precedes (usually a noun/pronoun) with another word or element in the clause. For instance, “in,” “at,” “on,” “of,” and “to”, when used in a sentence, show direction, time, place, spatial relations, locations, or for introducing an object. 

More often than not, students falter in the usage of prepositions in agreement with particular verbs and their idiomatic usage. Students must get the necessary amount of practice and sentence usage to master this particularly tricky speech element. By the use of activities and games, these common problems can be mitigated to a large extent.

Multisensory ways dictate gamified teaching patterns

Multi-sensory teaching, that is, getting students to use multiple sensory pathways to ingrain the concepts and recapitulate when needed, may help grasp prepositions effectively. The traditional teaching-learning process involves the visual (reading), oral (spoken), and aural (hearing) senses. An elevated multi-sensory learning method may involve touch sensory perception, such as activities involving tangible objects and variable application of the other senses.

Games and hands-on activities offer a participatory environment to learn[2]. These stimulate creative thinking and also help kids to indulge themselves in learning by applying strategies rather than rote memorizing. It is not just a ‘fun’ time in class; the multi-sensory ways applied in games and activities drive kids closer to meaningful learning.

Hands-on activities and engaging games for teaching prepositions

1. Making Anchor Charts

One good way to incorporate augmented visual aids—pictures, icons, colors— to reinforce concepts of the proposition is anchor charts. For proposition, Anchor charts may have a paragraph with blanked spaces left in sentences. Mostly, these paragraphs are 5-7 liner stories.

Another way to use anchor charts is to write a list of sentences. Ask children one by one to underline prepositions in those sentences.

The anchor charts can be made with interesting pictures too. A picture and sentence describing it can help understand the indication of spatial arrangement by the use of correct prepositions. For example, the book is on the table, the cat is under the table, the cake is in the box, etc.

One of the most common activities to do is to make sentences. Write the prepositions in, above, under, after in the first column and ask children to write sentences using those prepositions. Anchor charts bring in the participatory element and increase a sense of involvement among kids while learning prepositions activity way.

The anchor chart takes the kids a friendlier way of learning propositions where they participate to complete the chart. This sense of participation comes with immense satisfaction to them when you hang it on the walls where kids can see it daily and practice the use.

2. I Spy Treasure-hunt

This activity requires children to use prepositions in everyday use. Pair up students in the classroom and hand out “I spy” sheets. The sheets contain pictures of objects, that one of the teammates should hunt for. When one student locates the object, he describes the location to the partner using correct prepositions. The challenge is not the touch or show the object, but tell the location using descriptive explanation with propositions included in it.

3. Do As I Say

We all are familiar with Simon Says. Let’s modify it to reinforce preposition use in the sentence. Students can be divided into pairs. One student in the pair gives commands to the other, such as ‘lie on the ground’, Stand “on” your bench, Put your hand “under” the desk, Simon says, take “out” a red pencil. The kids will have to apply listening as well as cognitive skills by telling what preposition was used in the sentence and doing the task only when the sentence is preceded by the phrase ‘Simon Says’.

You can also do this activity with a whole group of students. In this case, you will specify things such as ‘those to my left’ or ‘those in the front row’, etc. It prepares kids to remain attentive in the class and do the job on their turn to score points.

4. Designer Description

This activity is aimed at teaching prepositions of place. It is meant for middle school students who need to learn to make descriptive explanations. The students are given the challenge to describe how they will design their room, a garden, or any place of their choice in their house. Using their imagination and creativity, they describe the changes and also tell at the end the prepositions used in their sentences.

5. Dinosaur Game

Dinosaur Game

Bring Dinosaurs to preposition class and make learning super fun. This game is effective for both kids and ESL learners. It is designed to teach the prepositions of time and space such as at, by, on, since, in, for, to, etc. The learners have dice on the screen which they click to get the game started. Every correct answer protects the kid in the game from falling prey to dinosaurs placed at various locations on the game screen. Hence, a purpose attached to answering the questions correctly motivates the learners to be precise in their application of knowledge.

6. Action-based game

Action-based game

It is quite an interactive game that prompts the children to do an action. The action sentence contains the preposition of space, giving them a fair idea of how to apply them in written and spoken English correctly. Apart from improving the knowledge of prepositions, the game enriches the vocabulary of early English learners too. The game has various areas of the house as the backdrop. Hence, kids can get added advantage of vocabulary related to the living room, kitchen, bedroom, etc. Repetitive play may offer a good guide on how to use prepositions in a sentence.

7. Prepositions basketball

Prepositions basketball

Mix basketball with the lesson on prepositions. Does it sound fun? Actually, it is! The game shoots various prepositions of space and time one after the other. Kids can choose to play to win points from choices 1,2 or 3. Using their knowledge of prepositions to choose the correct option, they get the goal scored. It is quite an engaging game and walks kids and ESL learners through the application of prepositions in a sentence. Since the questions are picture-based, you can expect an improvement in cognition and comprehension too.

Conclusion

These games and activities require to be played after the theoretical basis of preposition have been taught. These are meant to be reinforcements and alternate teaching aids. However, with slight modifications, you can also use these games to teach different categories of prepositions to kids. The games can be applied for enhancing vocabulary, sentence formation, and comprehension too. The sky is the limit!

References:

  1. Kemmerer, D. (2005). The spatial and temporal meanings of English prepositions can be independently impaired. Neuropsychologia, 43(5), 797–806. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2004.06.025
  2. öberg, J. (2018). “4. Designing for Increased Participation by Using Game-Informed Learning and Role-Play”. In Games and Education. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004388826_005

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