When Teaching Prepositions, Start with a Book or a Video
Incorporating a book or a video into any lesson is sure to engage learners. Luckily, there are quite a few picture books and videos you can use when teaching prepositions. Quite a few include prepositional phrases and are perfect for upper elementary students.
- If you were a Preposition by Nancy Lowen has to be the top pick here as a read aloud for prepositional phrases. It is a quick story that highlights prepositions by describing them and changing the color of the text when one is used. It even goes into details about how prepositions do not work alone and create a prepositional phrase.
- Under, Over, by the Clover: What is a Preposition? by Brian Cleary is another fun book about prepositions that students always love. The illustrations and colored text captures their attention and makes it any fun and easy read aloud.
- Behind the Mask: A Book About Prepositions by Ruth Heller introduces ALL of the different types of prepositions and includes a tremendous amount of examples. This book is best used by section if time constraints are a concern, but it is definitely a great one to have in your classroom to share with students.
- Brainpop has a quick two minute video that explains exactly what a prepositional phrase is. It's an easy way to set up your lesson on prepositional phrases for students.
- Flocabulary has a longer video on prepositions, but students love the catchy rap and storylines used.
Whole Group Lesson
As with any new skill, explicit instruction is necessary. Whole group grammar lessons can incorporate posters, anchor charts, or interactive notebook activities. The trick is to use something that is visually appealing for students and that they can quickly transfer into their notebooks.
- Displaying posters in the classroom or on your white board is a quick way to showcase the grammar skill.
- Anchor charts usually take a little more time, but students usually love to incorporate these in their notebook. You can create one in class and have them follow along, or you can create a notebook sized one, copy it, and give it to the students to glue into their notebooks.
- My favorite way to incorporate notes into their interactive notebook is to use print and fold grammar booklets. The prep involved is only printing and students love highlighting the notes and completing the activities.
Provide Practice Activities
Activities for teaching prepositions and prepositional phrases are a fan favorite when it comes to students and teachers. This is because it can involve as much movement as you'll allowed. Get ready for a ton of engagement and lots of learning.
1. Prepositional Charades
Choose a student to start off. Give them an index card with a prepositional phrase on it. (Ex. under the desk, next to the computer, on the chair) Have the student act it out and have other students raise their hand and try to guess what the prepositional phrase is.
2. Flying Objects
Yes, you read correctly, but don't cross this one of the list because it is one of the students' favorite activities and gets EVERYONE in on the action at once. I promise you, students will LOVE either one of these activities.
- Flying Airplanes: In this version which I first discovered from Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6, students fold a sheet of paper into a paper airplane. Students will throw the paper airplane across the room. Wherever it lands or where it flew, students write it on the paper airplane as a prepositional phrase. (Ex. on the table, under the chair, between the desks, behind the bookshelf)
- Snowball Fight: This version is exactly like the airplane version except that students will crumble a sheet of paper and toss it across the room. Once it lands, students unwrinkled their paper and write the prepositional phrase inside the snowball.
It is best to give students different colored paper for the snowballs, so they can easily identify them when they land next to someone else's. It is also best to have students use a marker to write. (Pencil may make it more difficult to read as the paper gets more and more wrinkled.)
3. Detective Work
Have students take out the book they are currently reading. Give them each 2-3 sticky notes. Have the students look for 2-3 sentences in their book that contain a prepositional phrase. Have them write one sentence on each sticky note and place them on a prepositional phrase anchor chart.
4. Digital Task Cards
Digital task cards are an easy, no prep, and engaging way to have students practice prepositional phrases. They can be used during centers, in small groups, or as a whole group activity.
- Assign as an activity to complete technology center
- Give one laptop or tablet to a pair of students and have them work on the task cards together
- Project the digital task cards on the board and have students answer using independent white boards
Assessing Students' Understanding
Quick and short assessments allow you see who has understood the skill and who still needs further practice.
- Have students create and write 5 sentences on their own. Tell them to include one prepositional phrase in each sentence.
- Give students a standards-based quick check quiz that is quick and easy to grade.