Prepositions can be a confusing concept of language to learn. Many prepositions have multiple meanings making it a complex concept for some littles to understand, such as the distinction between “up” and “above” or are you “in the coffee shop” or “at the coffee shop.” The development of spatial prepositions suggests the following hierarchy:
1) In, on, inside, out of
2) Under, next to
3) Between, around, beside, in front of
4) In back of, behind.
Generally, children learn more easily when real objects are used in play or large muscle activities are used as children go in and out of boxes/closets or on and off the tables/chairs.
Feeling cooped up!? Let us find a reason to get out to the neighborhood park! Parks are a great resource in our neighborhoods for socializing and language development. When you first arrive, walk around the park, and identify major pieces of equipment and other objects the kids see. Now, we are ready to go! Here are some fun ways to incorporate prepositions during play:
I SPY – Place the objects that you find on your initial walk such as leaves, rocks, flowers, or bugs (if you’re brave enough) in various locations. Create “I SPY” statements so your child can identify where the objects are located such as ‘I SPY a rock on the slide.’ or ‘I SPY an orange leaf under the swing.’ And then have your child search for the item!! Have multiple kiddos? You can turn this into a scavenger hunt by creating clues with prepositions ahead of time.
Who is Where!? (formerly known as hide and seek) – Again, discuss various things on the playground such as sandbox, tunnels, slides, monkey bars, swings, bench, teeter totter. This provides the base vocabulary the child will need to play! Have one child close his/her eyes and count, while the other children find a location to ‘hide.’ When the countdown is over, have the child answer the question “Where’s (name of child)?” with “He/She is in/on/under the (name of thing on the playground).” Want to expand language skills? When a child is found, they can ask the question “Where’s ______?” for the next kiddo.
Imaginative Play – Don’t forget your binoculars!! FYI: Finger binoculars will be just fine. Pretend to be an explorer with your child. Explore around the playground structures for animals with your finger binoculars as the child instructs ‘where’ you are heading next. You can model phrases such as “I see Dinosaurs on the swings!” or allow the child to instruct “Let’s find tigers in the sandbox.”
Most importantly, remember to have fun with these engaging opportunities throughout your day to encourage language development for your littles.
With warmth and gratitude,
The Fox Team