If you already know your students and their routines and activities, look for photos and pictures representing what you know will be authentic in their lives. Otherwise, stick with images that depict common routines and activities.
Take advantage of teaching in-person and get your students up and moving a bit.
- Print as many of the images as you can afford to.
- Hang one-page posters for each of the prepositions (in, on, at, from…to) on different walls. Have the images all mixed in one pile and lots of pieces of tape already torn off and ready so that you’re not having multiple people touching a tape dispenser.
- Have students come up one at a time to grab an image and tape it beneath a preposition poster while making a sentence about that routine/activity and using that preposition. For example, a picture of breakfast might be taped beneath the preposition “at” if the student says, “I eat breakfast at 7:30 every morning.” Or that same picture could get taped beneath “in” if the student chooses to say, “I eat breakfast in the morning.”
OPTIONAL: You can have everyone write the sentences each student says as they are said, or once all the images have been taped beneath preposition posters, have them write 1-3 sentences for each preposition using the images on the wall.
If your classes are online, you’ll have to miss out on any movement activity, but you’re going to save on ink and likely feel freer to chose large, colorful images. Depending on the skillset of your students, you’ve got two options:
- Arrange all the images on an editable file, leaving space for them to add sentences.
- Just send them the images as jpegs and let them sort them into groups before adding them to a file (Google, PowerPoint, whatever works for you and them). They then add sentences using prepositions of time that match each image.
OPTIONAL: You can have partners exchange files with sentences and record themselves reading each other’s sentences.
Add a little competition now and then is like adding a different spice to a tried and true dish. Breaking them up into teams is still possible, even pandemic style! You’ll need to find or create a list of time expressions such as Monday morning, winter, August, noon, December 16th, the 21st century, night, 6:00 … 10:00, Halloween.
If you’ve got the time to make and cut out cards, I’d definitely go with that. Adding some movement in an in-person class always helps to activate their brains. It eliminates any advantage a student whose own language uses the same or similar alphabet as English might have over someone whose first language has an entirely different script (and so writes much more slowly).
- Write as many different time expressions as you can think of, one per card. (Or, save time by creating a table on a computer file and putting a different time expression in each box. Print, cut, ready!) On larger (or colored) cards, write the prepositions of time (in, on, at, from…to).
- Give each pair or small group of students a set of time expression cards and preposition cards.
- Announce the starting time and call time’s up as soon as the FIRST group says they are finished.
- Check each group’s work. The winner is the group with the MOST correct answers, which might or might not be that group that finished first.
- Make a table with four columns, with a preposition of time heading each column. At the bottom, or on another page, have as many time expressions as you can think of, in random order.
- Give each student a handout. They can still work together but require all the students to write on their own handouts.
- Announce the starting time and call time’s up as soon as the FIRST student says she/he is finished. Check everyone’s work. The winner is the one who has the MOST correct answers, which might or might not be that person who finished first.
OPTIONAL: For either version, include some blanks for students to write their own time expressions.
For remote classes, you’re pretty much stuck with the handout version as described for in-person classes. HOWEVER, you can still use Google documents or something similar that allows multiple students to access and edit the same file simultaneously.
Click the image below to sign up and get access to a free set of public-domain curated images you can use with your students to get visual in your prepositions of time review. Use just these or use this set as a jump-start on your own collection of images. You’ll also be added to the email list to get the weekly password to the Freebie Library of resources for teaching adult ESL.