Choose the classification system you would like to use:

Newsletter sign up

Sign up to the monthly newsletter to hear about the latest free resources.

Sign me up to:



Language and Communication Two part instructions with prepositions and plurals  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


The child listens to instructions with two parts to do. These may involve complex positional language (behind, in front, next to, between, above, below) and plurals (e.g. books, pens).

Early years skill:Understanding
Early years typical range:40-60+m
P-scales/Curriculum skill:English Listening
P-scales/Curriculum level:P8
TAP skill:Understanding of Language/Comprehension
TAP level:TAP48
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Hunt the treasure

Something to use as 'treasure' - an interesting object or toy.

Explain that one person will be the person to hunt the treasure (the 'pirate' if appropriate!). The other children will hide the object and think of an instruction of where to look.

The person hunting closes their eyes / goes out of the room.

Hide the object, and think of an instruction to give a clue of where to look. Make sure the hiding place is not too easy, so that the instruction is long enough to be challenging.

(For example: "walk two steps and look behind the cupboard below the window").

Bring the person hunting the object back, and explain they need to listen carefully to the instruction. Give them the instruction.

They have to follow it to find the 'treasure'.

You may need to support the person hunting the treasure to remember the instruction, by using memory strategies.

If they forget where they need to look, encourage them to ask questions of the group. It is recommended that the group only answers yes / no - i.e. the child must formulate a precise question such as 'is it near the window?' rather than asking 'where is it?'

Alternatively, the person hunting can say 'give me a clue'. The other children must then give them a further instruction to help them, but not tell them exactly where the object is, for example 'go forward 2 steps and look up' You may need to support the children to do this.

Simon Says


Explain to the children they must only do the instruction you give if you say 'Simon says...'

Make sure you give long instructions which are complicated enough to be a challenge for the children, for example 'Simon says, turn around with your arms folded then touch something red'.

The instructions you give do not just need to be actions - they can involve the children finding objects, touching particular colours, etc.

Selection challenge

A range of objects laid out on the table.

The children take it in turns to listen for your instruction, and to select the objects you tell them to find.

You need to ask them to find between 4 and 6 items, or use a mix of descriptive words and names of items e.g. "find red pens and a green crayon" (that's two descriptive words and two item words - four key words in total to listen out for).

To introduce two parts to the instruction, you can ask them to find the objects and then to do something with them (e.g. 'find the green pen and the blue alien, and then put them inside something').

The objects can be everyday classroom objects. To make the activity topic specific, use objects linked to a current topic in class or in the language group.

Using objects the children find interesting makes the activity more enjoyable.

For younger children you could use a box, bag, or basket for them to put the objects they collect in.

To help the children develop self-monitoring skills, write down or draw the list of things you asked them to find (use paper or a white board). When they have made their selection, show them the list and have them check if they remembered what they needed to find.

Practical Activities

Any practical activity where the child must listen to instructions and carry them out to make something - e.g. origami fortuneteller, craft activities.

Explain to the child that they need to listen carefully to the instructions, as you will only say them once.

Give two instructions at a time, to make sure the whole instruction the child hears is challenging enough for this level, for example: 'fold the corners into the middle and then turn the whole paper over'.

After each instruction you give, show them what the result should look like, so that they can check their own work.

This is easily transferable to classroom activities.

Barrier Worksheets

A picture to colour - enough copies for everyone doing the activity, and for the adult too.

Colouring pens / pencils

A big book or folder to make a barrier

More ideas for barrier games (Word document)

Explain that this activity is to practise listening, so the child must listen carefully. You will only say the instruction once.

Give the child / children a sheet (one for everyone) and take one yourself.

Put the barrier up, so that the child cannot see your picture.

Give an instruction telling them to colour part of the picture, and colour it yourself. Make sure the instruction has at least 4 key words, and involves doing one thing before something else, for example: if you have a picture of a robot you could say: 'Colour the star next to the triangle and then colour the squares red.' The words underlined are the key words, and there are 2 steps to the instruction.

When you have all finished that instruction, hold up your picture, so the children can check if they got it right.

The activity is designed so that the child has to listen to, understand, and remember an instruction of 4-5 key words. If you break the instruction up into the different steps, the child will be working with several short instructions instead of one long one. For example, 'colour the robot's head blue'. (Pause, child has chance to start doing this part) 'And then colour two shoes red.' is two instructions not one.

Make sure the child listens to your whole instruction before s/he starts to carry it out.

There is automatic feedback in this activity, as the child will be able to see from your picture if s/he got it right. If s/he got it wrong, s/he will be able to see what the instruction actually was.

If you find the Commtap site useful, please fill out a review of it on EdTech impact. This really helps us to get funding to continue running the site. Thank you!
Ads on this page are provided by Google Adsense - and their presence does not imply any endorsement by Commtap. Report a problem with an ad on this page. Log in (for free) to avoid seeing ads.