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Shoebox Preposition Activity

(A three-dimensional activity for third graders and up)

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

  3. 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.

  5. 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.

  7. Cut a slit in the side of the box and attach the "through" slip through the side of the box.

  9. 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.

  11. If a student can’t think where to locate a word, try

    1. thinking in opposites (off/on, above/below, over/under, etc.) or
    2. thinking in comparison to other prepositions.
    3. 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 prepositions?
    4. 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 tape.

  13. 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.

  15. 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.