Level: elementary to pre-intermediate.
Ages: kids, teens and adults.
Type: competitive games; controlled and freer practice using worksheets.
Skills: speaking; listening.
Language focus: vocabulary and grammar – revising prepositions of movement.
Introduction: This is (hopefully) a fun series of worksheets to revise some prepositions of movement (some of which can also be prepositions of place). Apart from the revision itself, the main aims of the activities below are simply to use the language in a foolishly humorous and team-building way, to make them easier to remember, to encourage engagement with the language, and to strengthen feelings of co-operation within the class.
Note: I wouldn’t use this activity to introduce prepositions of movement to your learners, but to revise them only. This is because the worksheets contain a couple of antonyms – as Paul Nation and other researchers have shown, learning very closely-connected words together (especially synonyms and antonyms) increases memory load, making them more difficult to remember than if you teach them at different times. That said, it won’t be the end of the world if you choose to introduce these prepositions all at once; it’s just that your learners are unlikely to remember them as quickly and easily.
- This series of worksheets, or
- This series of Smartboard pages (if you have a Smartboard interactive whiteboard – see this page to download the Smartboard software).
- photocopy the worksheets or IWB pages, one per student in your class;
- you could also enlarge one copy of each sheet (if you don’t have an IWB) to stick on your whiteboard (don’t forget blu-tack!), or make a transparency for projection (don’t forget markers for the transparency!)
- Board or project the first picture (below), or hand out copies to your students. As a class, ask them how many objects in the illustrated room they can name.
- If necessary, project or show the second picture (also below). Go through any pronunciation patterns as necessary (remembering that the first word in a noun phrase usually contains the main stress).
- Pair your students and hand out the third sheet (as below). Ask each pair to match the prepositions to the actions. Get class feedback, then hand out the fourth sheet, which contains probable answers (though accept any others that would fit).
- Show the fifth worksheet (below). With the whole class, elicit where the mouse can travel to get the cheese. Try to have your students using as many of the prepositions from the third/fourth sheet as they can.
- Put your students into groups of 3 or 4. Ask them to make the most complicated route they can think of for the mouse to take to get the cheese. Set a time limit (e.g., 5 minutes) and ask your students to use as many prepositions as they can, and as many times as they can. It might be good to suggest a small prize for the team which can produce the craziest route, using the most prepositions.
- When your students are ready, stop the route-creation activity. Ask each team, in turn, to describe its route, while one student from that group draws the route on the board (use the first or fourth picture for this). Award a point for each preposition correctly used, and minus one point for each incorrect use. If the group use all the prepositions on the board, award them five bonus points.
- Continue the activity with the other groups. The group with the most points at the end is the winner and can claim their prize, if you have one (a small piece of cheese?).
- Design a route around the classroom or the school, using as many prepositions as possible, or divide your class into two or three groups and get them to prepare a treasure hunt for another group, leading to a counter – first group to return the counter to class (when all groups have finished writing instructions) is the winner. You may need to elicit the English words for items of classroom furniture. One person calls out directions while another follows them – again, you could turn this into a competition if you like.