Prepositions of place are words such as on, in, under, in front of, behind, next to, between, etc. A preposition of place is used to refer to the location of something or someone.
Teaching prepositions to ESL students can be incredibly fun with the right games, activities, and lesson materials.
This page includes a complete ESL lesson plan to teach prepositions of place to kids / beginner learners. Most of the games and activities on this page are geared towards elementary kids. Many of these activities could, however, be modified to teacher older beginner learners.
See below to download the PDF materials needed for this lesson, and check out the bottom of the page for additional resources to teach prepositions of place.
Materials for this lesson:
Prepositions of Place – ESL Lesson Plan For Beginners
Step 1: Introduction
Before teaching your students the key words for the lesson, it is important to put prepositions of place in context. This is to ensure that your students grasp the concept of prepositions and understand what they are going to learn. Fortunately, it is quite easy to demonstrate prepositions of place and even young children can understand the concept.
One very simple way is to use the things around you in the classroom. Place an object in different locations and say the preposition aloud. For example, place a pen on the desk and say ‘on’ and ask students to repeat after you. Then place the pen in the desk draw and say ‘in’. Then place it under the desk and say ‘under’. And so on.
Once students grasp the basic concept of prepositions, reinforce this by showing your students these preposition flashcards. Show each flashcard to the students and ask them to repeat after you. Then ask students to say each word on their own.
After practicing several times, place the cards around the classroom in different locations depending on the preposition on that card. For example, place the ‘on’ card ‘on the desk’; Place the ‘under’ card ‘under a book’, and so on.
While placing the cards around the classroom ask students to repeat after you and to remember where the flashcards are. At the end of the lesson to review, you can ask students to tell you where the cards are. To make this activity more fun, you can also invite some students to place the cards for you.
Step 2: Preposition of Place Song
Using ESL songs in the classroom can be an incredibly effective way to teach new vocabulary and expressions to young learners. Kids love to sing and dance and so using songs in your English class is a great way to increase student motivation. There are several great songs to teach prepositions to kids.
The one you choose will depend on the age and level of your learners. If you are teaching very young students, teaching all the prepositions at once might be a bit overwhelming. This song is the easiest of the preposition songs and teaches the 3 basic prepositions on, in, and under. If you’re lesson includes the prepositions on, in, under, in front of, behind, next to, and between, then we recommend this song.
For a list of the best ESL songs for kids check out our post, Best ESL Songs For Young Learners.
How To Teach The Prepositions Song
First, listen to the song one time without singing. Ask students to listen for any words that you learned in the beginning of the lesson. Next, begin teaching the song lyrics by playing the first part of the song, pausing it, and then asking students to repeat (sing) after you.
Even if you have a terrible singing voice, it is important to show students that you are willing to sing along too. Continue playing the song and pausing it, teaching the lyrics little by little. Once you have practiced all the lyrics to the song, try singing the whole song all the way through. Don’t worry if students cannot sing all the lyrics straight away or if they make mistakes.
After singing the song all the way through, you can introduce some dance moves to the song. It is very simple to make dance moves to the prepositions song.
For example, for ‘on’ make a fist with your left hand and place your right hand on top of your fist. For ‘under’, place your right hand under the fist. And so on for all the other prepositions in the song.
Once you have taught and practiced the dance moves you can now sing and dance to the preposition song. Sing the same song over the next few lessons and students will soon be able to remember all the prepositions and their meanings.
TIP: An easy way to make any ESL song much more fun is to speed up or slowdown the song on YouTube.
Step 3: Speaking Activity – Race Around The World Board Game
This prepositions board game is a great activity to get students talking using prepositions. This game is best played in pairs. Print out the board game and give one to each pair of students. Students will ‘Race Around The World’ while asking and answering ‘Where is the monkey?’.
How to Play: Both students should place their eraser at the bottom where it says ‘Start’. The aim of the game is to make it all the way around the world first. One student will go clockwise, and one student will go anti-clockwise.
To begin, the students will play Rock, Scissors, Paper. The winner can then move their eraser one square. After moving their eraser, the pair of students should make a dialogue based on the image in that square.
For example, ‘Where is the monkey?’ – ‘It’s under the bench.’. Next, they play Rock, Scissors, Paper again, and continue like this until one student has made it all the way around the world.
TIP: If students finish too quickly, tell them that once they make it all the way around the world, they get 1 point. And they should play again until, say, 5 points.
For more printable board games on many topics check out our Board Games and Templates page.
Step 4: Prepositions Memory Game
Once students can make sentences using prepositions of place, this memory game is a great way to review what they have learned.
There are 10 questions. Each question shows students a scene for 5 seconds. They should look carefully at the scene and try to remember where the objects are. After the 5 seconds they will be asked a question, such as ‘Where is the baseball bat?’, and will see 3 multiple choice answers.
This game can be played in many different ways. If you just want to practice speaking, then you can play the video and ask students to raise their hands when they are ready to guess.
Then the teacher can ask the questions and the student will answer using the correct preposition. Alternatively, to also practice writing the sentences, ask students to write their answer down first, before asking them to say their answer.
Step 5: Review
Before the class ends, its important to review what students have learned that lesson, and to check their understanding.
In the introduction to the lesson we placed the preposition flashcards around the classroom in different places corresponding to the preposition on that card.
To review, ask students to tell you, using the expressions they learned during the lesson, where the flashcards are. This is a great way to wrap up the lesson and check students’ understanding.
Thanks for reading. I hope you found some inspiration for your prepositions class. For more free ESL free resources to teach prepositions, check out the links below.