In, At, or On? 6 Simple Activities for Practicing Prepositions of Time

In, At, or On? 6 Simple Activities for Practicing Prepositions of Time

Prepositions, prepositions everywhere!

Simply teaching your students all of the prepositions in English is overwhelming for everyone involved and not usually a good idea. I suppose that is why we tend to teach them in bunches, prepositions of location…prepositions of time…The following exercises focus on prepositions of time and give you a variety of exercises you can use to practice these little words in class. So read on and see how many you have used with your students and how many you want to make time for in the future.

Use These 6 Simple Activities for Practicing Prepositions of Time

  1. 1

    Preposition Memory

    Memory is a great game to play with ESL students, and the game is easy to tailor to your specific goals. To play preposition of time memory, write several fill in the blank sentences missing their time preposition on index cards. Then write the answers on separate cards. To play, students shuffle the cards, lay them in a grid face down, and then take turns flipping two cards at a time looking for a match between the fill in the blank sentence and the preposition needed to complete it. If a player gets a match, he takes another turn. Play until all the cards are gone. The player with the most cards wins the game. You can also play the game without the answer cards. In such a game, students would seek to match two fill in the blank sentences that require the same preposition to correctly complete the sentences.

  2. 2

    Preposition Dash

    Another fun activity for practicing prepositions of time will get your students moving from head to toe. Using the same fill in the blank sentences from the memory game or creating a new set of sentences, you will read a sentence aloud to your class and students will have to choose the correct preposition to complete the sentence. The answers should be posted in your classroom on different walls. For example, you might have a sign on one wall that says ON, on another wall one that says IN, and on another wall one that says AT. After you read a question, students run to the wall with the correct answer. You will get a quick and easy read on how well students know and can use these prepositions.

  3. 3

    Pants on Fire

    How well can your students bluff? You will find out with this preposition of time card game. Start by preparing a set of cards that have several prepositions of time on them. You might have phrases such as the following: in the summer, in January, at 5:00, on Tuesdays, etc. Have enough cards to that there are around twenty-five cards for each group of five that will be playing. Then, have students get into groups of five, shuffle the cards, and deal them out. Play starts when one person asks the person to their left a time question. For example, “When do you get up in the mornings?” The answering student must then choose one of the cards in his hand as the answer to the question and places it in the pile in the center of the players. If he has a card that says at 7:00, that might be a good one to play and be very believable. But if all he has in his hands is “in winter” he will have to play that card, which will clearly be a lie. The student who asked the question then decides if she thinks the other player’s answer is true or false. If she thinks the answer is true, she says nothing and the next person asks a question. If she thinks it is false, she says something like, “Liar, liar, pants on fire”. If the answer was a lie, the answering student must take all the cards in the center of the table. If the answer was true, the asking student must take all the cards in the center of the table. Play until one person has gotten rid of all her cards or until you call time up. The person with the fewest cards when time is called is the winner.

  4. 4

    Fishing for Answers

    This is a full class conversation activity that gets students using prepositions of time. Give each student between three and five index cards with prepositional phrases of time written on them. (You can use the cards from the previous activity, make new ones, or have your students make their own.) Students then mingle around the classroom trying to get their classmates to say the phrases on their cards. To get an answer, a student asks a classmate a question which he thinks the other student will answer with the target phrase. For example, if his card says IN THE WINTER, he might ask, “When do people usually ski?” If his classmate says the correct phrase, he can discard that card. Play until everyone has gotten rid of all their cards.

  5. 5

    Personal Time Schedules

    Have your students write one or more statements about themselves on index cards, each using a preposition of time. For example, someone might write, “I was born in the winter,” or “I have a dentist appointment on Tuesday.” Then collect all the cards, shuffle them, and hand them out to your class making sure no one gets their own card back. Students must then ask their classmates questions to determine who wrote that statement. (Students are not allowed to show their card to their classmates or ask, “Did you write this card?”) When someone finds the person who wrote his card, he can sit down. Play until everyone has found the person who wrote his card.

  6. 6

    Guess the Question

    To do this activity, make a list of around ten fill in the blank statements which must be completed with a preposition of time. Give each person in your class a copy of these questions, and have them complete the sentences with true answers without showing their answers to anyone else in class. Then put each student with a partner. Students take turns reading an answer only to one of the fill in the blank sentences. Their partners must then try to determine which sentence their answer completes.

What are your favorite activities for practicing prepositions of time?

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