Drawing and crafts activities for prepositions of position
The great combination of artistic activities and words like “on”, “in” and “under”.
As much as students and teachers love drawing and crafts activities, it is often difficult to make up ones that are really tied to the language point of the day, really practise that language rather than just lead to language-free pictures of it, and can be explained in English. There are no such problems when prepositions of position is your language point, however, as this is precisely the kind of language that comes up when doing every other kind of craft and drawing task. This article gives some ideas which properly tie in with this language point, really practise it and are easily explainable in English.
Create the preposition races
The teacher explains something including a preposition such as “An elephant on a car” or “An elephant in a car” and students rush to draw it, make a plasticine model of it, cut that shape out of paper, etc. As with those examples, it is usually best if the things they will draw are quite amusing. Points can be given for particularly fast, well-drawn or amusing pictures.
Create your own prepositions races
The game above can also be played with a bit more creativity from the students by giving them just part of the sentence and getting them to use their imaginations as they draw, model, cut out etc. For example, you could give them the nouns “hat” and “tree” and let them decide if the most amusing thing they can come up with is “A hat is on a tree”, “A tree is growing in a hat”, “A hat is floating above a tree”, etc. You could also just give them the preposition (plus maybe some kind of restriction on nouns such as “animals”).
Create it then identify it
Students listen to a description of something without being told what it will be and draw to help themselves guess its identity. For example, “Draw a big circle. Draw a smaller circle on top of it. Draw three small circle in a line on the front of the bigger circle.” etc will make a snowman. The drawing version is usually known as a Picture Dictation, but for this language point the same thing can be done with cut out or 3D shapes, bent pipe cleaners, Fuzzy Felt, Playdoh, Lego, etc.
Self-created picture differences
You can also give students a scene and tell them what to draw but not where. They can then work in pairs to find similarities and differences between their pictures with sentences like “The cat is in the box in my picture”, “Where is the cat in your picture?” or “Is the cat in the box in your picture?”
Students can also create their own Where’s Wally (= Where’s Waldo) type pictures in the same way, e.g. hiding a tiny spider in the picture of a kitchen or twenty spiders all over a house.
Draw it in the right place
Students can also choose what they think is the right place to draw something. For example, the teacher shouts out “washbasin” and the students race to draw it in the right place in the bathroom and put up their hands to describe the place they have put with phrases like “(I have drawn it) between the bath and the toilet” or “(It should be) under the mirror”.
Draw it in the best place
You can also do a project where the position of things is more debatable and everyone must agree before they are drawn, e.g. deciding how to hang some paintings, what security to put where around a famous diamond, what things to add where on a robot, or how to decorate a living room. Unless the students are high level and can be trusted to work just in English this is probably best done as a whole-class activity with students putting up their hands to tell the class and teacher where they want the next thing to go.
Draw it in the wrong place
For a more amusing variation, students can also compete to put things in the silliest place possible, e.g. the toilet on the roof or the tree on the kitchen table. This can be done as a race or students can compete to draw the craziest school, house, etc, labelling the position of each thing as they draw it in.
Colour it there
Especially for students who can’t draw very well yet and students who are still struggling with the prepositions and so would be better off with a limited selection of things to choose from, it is also possible to set up colouring activities for prepositions of position. You need a picture where objects are next to, under, etc each other and there are several examples of at least three or four objects, e.g. a pig under the table, a pig in a bath and a pig in front of the fridge. Students follow instructions like “Colour the cow on the chair purple” or “Find the cow behind the curtain. Colour it pink”. It takes some setting up, but this works much better if the finished picture has some kind of structure. For example, the Puzzle Time books have a great activity where the coloured-in animals make the shape of the word “Hello”. Simpler versions could include animals on the left- and right-hand halves of the picture being different colours when they finish the whole thing.
Another option for students who can’t draw well (or are so fussed about beautiful pictures that drawing activities take forever) is to tell them where to put stickers.
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic blog.