How to Teach Prepositions

Assorted-title of books piled in the shelves.jpg

Learning what prepositions are and what they are used for is relatively easy when the task is presented as a couple of games.

  • A ball
  • A handout which lists at least 20 prepositions.
  • A handout with two “preposition poems (see step #4) on one side and starter lines on the other side.
  • A handout with two paragraphs of prose.
  • Highlighters for each student.

1 How to Teach Prepositions

2 Begin

Begin by using the ball to demonstrate the basic idea of prepositions. Place the ball on the floor and ask where it is. Then put the ball in different locations, eliciting responses such as under the desk, on the file cabinet, between the wastebasket and the bookshelf, across from the dictionary, etc. Explain that you’ve just answered a lot of questions about “where.”

3 Next

Next, ask questions about “when.” When will you be 15 years old? (in five years) When will you go to recess? (after lunch) When will you have lunch? (before recess), when is Independence Day (on the Fourth of July).

4 Give students

Give students a handout which lists at least 20 prepositions. You might use these: about, above, across, after, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, between, by, during, in, into, off, on, over, toward, under, upon, with.

5 Hand out copies

Hand out copies of the following poems and read students the following poem: (Point out that every line starts with a preposition except the last one.)\n\nExample One\nThrough the house they ran. \nUp the stairs and \nInto my room.\nOn top of my bed, \nUnder the covers,\nI found my cats.\n\nExample Two\nDuring the movie, \nBeneath the seats,\nOn the floor,\nWith all the other trash,\nA dumped over box of popcorn.

6 Ask students

Ask students to turn over the sheets with the poems. On the back you will have given them two choices for a first line of a preposition poem they can write (or they might come up with their own first line).\n\n“In my classroom” OR\n“On the playground”\n\nRemind students that each line must start with a preposition except the last one. Poems should be at least five lines in length.

Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.