How to teach prepositions

A story and lesson plan dedicated to teaching prepositions!


The Easter bunny is out and about hiding eggs for all children who have been good.  He is not sure where to hide them, which is a good excuse to use twelve prepositions!  


Attention: There is no need for it to be Easter to use this story!  Simply don't read out the word "Easter" and the story works just as well, so you may use it to teach prepositions at any time of the year.


This story shows you how to teach prepositions step by step in a way your children will enjoy and remember them.  Here's proof!


Inge Williams from Inglés Brincando in Brazil says: "This morning even the 7-8 year olds were hopping round like bunnies to the easter bunny song. A week or so ago I thought it was going to be impossible to teach them ALL the prepositions from the Easter story, but they really know most of them already."


Prepositions vocabulary flashcards Included for the ESL lesson:


Across                In                           On           

Behind               In between          Out

Down                 Into                        Under

In front of          Next to                  Up


Plus these flashcards for extra vocabulary in the story: Bunny, bush, egg, flowers, pond, pot, tree



Here is an extract on how to teach prepositions, taken from the prepositions lesson plan:


Introducing the prepositions with objects and the body

The best way to teach prepositions is by using the body to demonstrate them.  Here are some ideas to do that which appeal to all four main learning styles due to seeing the objects or body in a given position, hearing the words repeated, moving the body and touching.


Introduce four contrasting prepositions by demonstrating them with your body or objects.  For example for 'under' and 'on' you might get underneath your desk or chair and contrast that with sitting on it.  ‘In front’ or ‘behind’ may also be done with a piece of furniture.  Equally these prepositions could be demonstrated by holding a pen over a chair and then holding it underneath, this is slightly more abstract than using the whole body to get underneath something.  It would be better to use a teddy bear or doll than a pen.


With 'in' and 'out' use a bag, basket or any kind of container, even an envelope.  Use as many different recipients as possible to give variety while you present those two words.  Children will enjoy feeling a part of the activity if you use pockets in their clothing for in and out, or even putting something inside a sock while they are wearing it.


Listening game with movement


Now the first batch of prepositions have been introduced proceed to a listening game with the children in pairs.  On your command children jump into a position that illustrates the preposition that you name.  Work these out with the children first as described above before you play together. For example one child could be static while the other demonstrates the preposition in relation to the static child.   For 'under' or 'on' one child can be on all fours while the other lies underneath or straddles him or her.  If the child straddling the other remains standing you don't need to worry about heavy children squishing lighter ones!


If you have limited space demonstrate these in pairs with more contained postures like holding hands underneath or over the other child's outstretched arms.


In front or behind can be done with two people, one standing behind or in front of the other.


In and out might be shown with one child making a circle on the floor with his or her body, or at the desk using both arms, while the other child stands in the circle or out of it.  Hoops are fun to jump in and out of.  Place a piece of material on the floor or designate a pretend swimming pool or pond and tell the children to jump in and out of it.


The lesson plan on how to teach prepositions continues with more games, gradually bringing the children along until they know them all by heart and can use them in sentences.


Go to the ESL Prepositions / Bunny Story page for ordering options.