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Language and Communication Understand and use prepositions  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


To understand words, signs or symbols that describe positions for example 'in', 'on', 'under', behind, in front of

Early years skill:Shape, space and measure
Early years typical range:22-36m
P-scales/Curriculum skill:Maths Shape Space and Measures
P-scales/Curriculum level:P6
TAP skill:Language (old categories)
TAP level:TAP36
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info
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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Physical Activities

Materials to use can include: playground equipment, furniture, boxes, hoops, bean bags etc

Show the child how they can be 'on', 'in', 'under' etc these objects. When they are doing an action, say where they are, for example, 'you're under the slide', 'you're on the swing', 'you're under the blanket'.

You can extend this by giving the child instructions containing the prepositions you are working on.

Hide and seek with toy animals

Table, chair, box, teddy, doll

While the doll is not looking, get the child to hide the teddy somewhere by giving them an instruction for example 'put him under the chair'. (Work on no more than two or three prepositions at a time). The doll comes back and asks questions such as 'Is he on the chair', 'Is he under the table'

Give the child an opportunity to say where to hide the teddy. Give them a forced alternative, for example 'shall we put him in or under the box' using a sign for each preposition or physically showing the two positions of the teddy along with each word.

Lotto game

Lotto cards containing pictures of things in different positions, for example teddy on the table, teddy under the table etc.

Draw cards out of a bag or from a stack (without showing the children), and say what is on the card, for example 'teddy's on the table'. Whoever has that picture on their card calls out.

Tea party

Dolls, tea-set

Act out a doll's party where you and the child take it in turns in telling each other what to do. Use lots of position words, for example "Pour the tea in the cups", "Put the cup on the saucer" etc.

Obstacle course

for example: hoops, table, chair

Set up an obstacle course, making use of as many different places as possible. Call out directions involving different position words, for example, "stand on the chair", "go through the hoop", "go under the table"

Giving a puppet instructions

puppet, objects such as spoon, cup, brush etc.

You and the children take turns to tell the puppet where to put different objects, for example "Put the spoon on the chair", "Put the spoon under the plate". (Occasionally the puppet should get something in the wrong place so that the child can correct him).

Tidy up

Ask the child to help you tidy up around the home (or in the home-corner or doll's house). Initially you can tell the child where to put things - for example "put the saucepan on the cooker".

Next you can discuss with the child how to arrange the items and get him to tell you where they should go:

for example "Where shall I put the apple",

"On the plate"

Nursery Rhymes

Sing nursery rhymes which involve position words, for example: "Ring-a-ring-a-roses" - we all fall down; "The Grand Old Duke Of York" - up/down, "Hokey-Cokey" - in/out, "Roly Poly" - in/out, "Wind the bobbin up", "Jack and Jill" - up/down, "Hey diddle-diddle" - over.

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