English is full of prepositions, and they ESL students nearly always benefit from a quick, creative review of these important little words.
Here are some activities you can use with almost any class from beginning to advanced that will be big fun and worthwhile review of English prepositions.
Try These 5 Fresh Activities to Review Prepositions
Classroom Clue Hunt
This game gives your students a chance to practice prepositions of location while reviewing classroom vocabulary. Have your students work with a partner to choose one item in the classroom as their “treasure”. Each pair will write a series of clues using prepositions of location that will direct another team to their treasure. Give each pair a distinct color of sticky notes which they will use to write their clues. Everything should be written on the sticky side of the notes. Before students start writing clues, write the following prepositions on the board: under, between, on, above, next to, behind, in front of, and near. Students will then write a chain of clues using each of these prepositions one time, and each clue will lead to the next and ultimately to the treasure. On their first sticky note, a pair writes a clue that will lead to the second clue. They might write something like the following.
- Clue #2 is under the teacher’s desk.
Under the desk, that same pair would place clue #2 which also leads to clue #3. (Remind students to write on the sticky side of the notes so their clues will be face down when they hide them.) For example, clue #2 might say,
- Clue #3 is above the clock.
Students should write a total of eight clues using each preposition of location one time. Clue number 8 will lead to the treasure.
- The treasure is in SuJan’s desk.
Once every pair has written their clues, give each pair of students a small star sticker to identify their treasure, collect clue #1 from each pair, have students place their subsequent clues in the appropriate spot, and shuffle and redistribute clues #1 to the pairs. Students then work together to follow the trail of clues left by their classmates to locate the treasure.
In this 20 Question style game, students ask questions to determine what is wrong in a hypothetical classroom. Ask one student to volunteer to answer questions. They should think of an unusual situation that could happen in a classroom, or you can assign an unusual situation to them. For example, you might use the following or similar situations.
- The students are under the teacher’s desk.
- The teacher is in the garbage can.
- The books are under the television.
- The white board is on the floor.
The rest of the class then takes turns asking questions that use a preposition of location to determine what is wrong in the classroom. If after 20 questions, the class is able to guess the strange situation, they win. If they cannot guess within that number of questions, the student answering questions wins. You can also play this game any time you have a few free minutes at the end of class. It’s a great filler and takes no prep on your part!
In My Room
The next time you have some time in the computer lab, try this activity with your students. Start by giving each person a sheet of blank paper and asking them to draw a simple diagram of their bedroom. Ask each person to write a paragraph describing his or her bedroom. In the paragraph, she should use at least six different prepositions to describe what is in her room. She might write something similar to the following.
- My bed is against the wall and under a window. I have a poster on the wall next to the window. I have three large pillows on my bed. The door is across from my desk, and my desk is next to my closet.
When she is finished with her paragraph, read her paragraph and check to make sure she has no errors with prepositions, then have her print out the paragraph. Then using the same file, have your student replace every preposition in the paragraph with a blank and print it again. Now she has a cloze exercise with an answer key. She should staple the first page (the answer key) under the second one and put the diagram on top. None of the pages should have the student’s name on it. Then collect the paragraphs and redistribute them among your students. Now each student must complete the cloze exercise using any prepositions that are logical. He should refer to the diagram as needed to complete the paragraph. Once he is finished, he can check his answers with the page underneath. After he checks his answers, ask the person to guess who wrote the paragraph describing this room.
Preposition of Time Dominoes
This game gives your students a chance to practice using the prepositions of time in, at and on. Give each person twelve index cards which they will make into dominoes. On the left side of each card, have students write a time. They can choose any time they like for each card, but they should have at least one of each of the following: a holiday, a specific day of the year, a time on the clock, a day of the week, a season, a year, and a time of the day. On the right side of the cards, he should write a preposition of time. He should have three cards that each say at, on and in. Then have students play this unique version of dominoes in groups of three. The person whose birthday is closest to today lays down the first domino. The person to her left should then place one of his dominos on the chain that would complete the prepositional time phrase. For example, if the first card read July/on, a matching card might read Friday/in. The key is that the preposition of the first card matches the time on the second card (On Friday) or that the preposition player two lays down matches the time on the first card (In July) Play continues around the circle. If a student cannot play a domino, play moves to the next person. The person to use all his dominos first wins. If you like, have students keep their preposition of time dominos to play during a free period or collect them and use them to set up a learning center.
All you need for this game is a blindfold and a spirit of adventure. Before the activity, review with your students prepositions of movement (across, around, away from, down, into, off, onto, out, over, past, through, toward, under, up) and how to give directions (turn left, turn right, go straight.) Put students in groups of three, and ask each group to choose one person to walk the maze. Each of these players must wait in the hallway until it is his turn to walk. Once all the players are in the hallway (and you have blocked any windows into the class – no peeking!) the remaining students rearrange the desks in the classroom into a maze. The maze should have only one way in and one way out, but it can have as many tricks and traps in the middle as you like. Go into the hallway and blindfold the first player. Bring them into your classroom and position them at the entrance to the maze. His two teammates should then call out commands using prepositions of movement and directional commands. The goal is to get the player through the maze in the least possible time. If a player bumps into a desk, add five seconds to his time. If a caller says something in his native language, add five seconds to the time. If you like, once each group has had one turn, have your students choose another player to wait in the hallway. Rearrange the desks into a new maze and time the second players. Do the same thing for the third person in each team. Then, add together the scores for all three rounds to determine which team had the best time and wins bragging rights.