If you are a parent of a child in primary school, you will probably be becoming aware of the increased focus on grammar and punctuation contained in the new National Curriculum. Your child’s school may have provided information about the new English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests which Year 2 and Year 6 children will be taking next summer. Depending upon when and where you went to school, you may find the information coming from school (and the terminology being used by your child) challenging.

Whether you are bewildered by the terminology used or just want to know a little more to support your child, I hope you will find this blog useful. You can click on the Parent’s Start Page to link to information about different areas of grammar and punctuation. Alternatively, enter a term in the search bar or click on a word in the cloud of labels. If you have further queries, get in touch and I will try to help where I can. You can also follow me on Twitter @grammarpuss13.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Prepositions

Prepositions are words that express a relationship between things or beings in a sentence, very often relating to ‘where’ or ‘when’.  They are usually a single word, but sometimes consist of more than one word.

Some common prepositions are contained in the table below.

on
in
at
into
onto
over
under
before
after
between
beyond
because of
until
by
since
like
through
along
of
with
near
from
on top of
past
round
beside
for
towards
off
across
above
below
up
down
inside
about

Prepositions can be used with a noun or noun phrase to create a prepositional phrase:
  • beyond England
  • across the sea
  • by teatime
  • until 10 o’clock
  • along the riverbank
  • like a cheetah
  • with a friend
These prepositional phrases can be used:
  • to extend noun phrases, providing information after the main noun in the phrase (The small girl with the pigtails played the recorder.)

or
  • to fill the adverbial slots in sentences, giving information about where, when, how or why things happen.  (The rabbit disappeared down the burrow.  At that moment the man slipped on the banana skin.  She shivered because of the cold.  The fish darted like silver arrows.)

Sometimes we use prepositions with verbs to extend or alter the verb’s usual meaning.  For example, the verb ‘take’ means something different to the verb ‘take off’.

Although children use prepositions and prepositional phrases from an early age to describe where, when, how or why things happen, they will not usually be taught the term ‘preposition’ until Year 3.  Children will be encouraged to create and use prepositional phrases in their writing to provide their readers with more detailed information.

You can use the following activity to help your child use prepositions to create prepositional phrases describing ‘where’ the action happens.

Make preposition cards from the table below.  Using this picture (or one of your choice) ask your child where a small character, like a mouse, could hide or run.  Turn the cards over and see if you can use each one to create a prepositional phrase.  You can provide part of the sentence at first, but encourage your child to experiment with different ideas, changing the character and actions. 
  • The tiny mouse hid   (inside the wall, behind the plants, up the chimney, etc.)
  • The mouse ran … (over the wall, across the roof, through the drainpipe, etc.)
  • The ant crawled
on
in
onto
into
up
over
under
before
after
between
beyond
down
along
by
inside
through
off
near
of
across
above
beside
on top of
past
round
below
from
towards


You can discuss prepositional phrases that you notice when reading and also create them when you are out an about.  For example, past the shops, over the bridge, towards the church.  Try to remember your journey so that you can write these phrases down on strips of paper when you get home.  Children can then experiment with creating a prepositional poem, putting the strips of paper in the correct order.  

Here's my example of a sequential journey to give you the idea!

My journey to work
Down the lane,
Across the bridge,
Along the road,
Into the village.
Through the lights,
Past the church,
At the roundabout,
Out of the village.
Up the hill,
Under branches of trees,
Over the top
on Woodbury Common.
Between farm shop and fields
Beyond pubs, parks and houses,
Exeter!

It could be fun creating a poem of a shopping trip in the supermarket: above the sugar, below the carrots, behind the beans.  

Or alternatively, use a picture of a pirate map and ask children to describe their journey to the treasure!  Search 'pirate maps for kids' online for some great examples.

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