Shoebox Preposition Activity
(A three-dimensional activity for third graders and up)
You will need:
a shoebox or other cardboard box
colored paper or wrapping paper
slips of paper with one Preposition written on each slip.
tape or glue
string or yarn
pipe cleaners or toothpicks.
Cover the shoebox and the lid (separately) with the colored paper or wrapping
paper and tape or glue it to the box. Now the box is pretty.
Take one Preposition slip at a time and discuss where it should be located
on the box. Then tape or glue the slip to the box.
Use the pipe cleaners or toothpicks to attach words like "near" near but
not directly on the box. Use the yarn to go ‘around’ the box.
Cut a slit in the side of the box and attach the "through" slip through
the side of the box.
Every child will vary in where he or she locates the prepositions. Nine
times out of ten, a student can explain his or her rationale to you. Accept
a variety of rationales as long as none is patently wrong.
If a student can’t think where to locate a word, try
thinking in opposites (off/on, above/below, over/under, etc.) or
thinking in comparison to other prepositions.
Should "Beyond" be beyond "Near"? Or beyond some other preposition? Could
Between be between the lid and the box? Or should it be between two other
These are great questions/discussions because they confirm prepositions
as showing locations relative to other things. (Even relative to each other!)
They also get students thinking about their own uses of these words. Kids
like to decide where the prepositions should go and they love to glue or
With students in fourth grade an above, we notice that many of the prepositions
are synonyms—words that mean the same thing. For example, Under,
Underneath, Below and Beneath. Or Above, Over. What about Atop? Some students
will see the similarity in the three words, while other students will see
distinctions. Both similarities and distinctions are great! Continue to
discuss other prepositions that are synonyms and near-synonyms.
If you have the money in your budget, I have gone to the hobby store and
bought a cardboard house to use with my students instead of a shoebox.
Some students like the house better because it is more realistic and makes
the prepositions more concrete. They also like it because it is more aesthetic.
Submitted to the KISS Grammar Website by Irene Meaker,
Ph.D., Lincoln, NE.