Series: Focus on the Child

Using Direction Words to Describe Movement of Objects with Child 12

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In this video, a preschool-age English Language Learner uses direction words to tell a story about finding a lost teddy bear. Direction words, particularly positional prepositions, can be a challenge for non-native speakers of English to master. Practicing these words in the early years when children are still developing their language skills, therefore, is very important.

“Acting out” direction words gives English Language Learners immediate visual representations of otherwise abstract prepositions. In this video, the English Language Learner moves the toy dog based on the preposition she hears. She then is given the opportunity to practice saying direction words out loud, as she gives orders about where the toy dog should be moved.

Students can act out these words themselves, as well. Part of our Focus on the Lesson video series, Walk with Rosie uses Pat Hutchins’ classic storybook Rosie’s Walk as the basis for an interactive math activity. The book follows Rosie the hen, as she unwittingly traverses a treacherous path. She returns home unscathed, but the fox who was following her is not so lucky. The teacher in this video sets up an obstacle course in her classroom and lets students traverse it themselves. Those not currently going through the obstacle course repeat the actions out loud: crawling under the table; walking between two chairs. This activity allows students to say and act out these important direction words.

Focus on the Child videos are taken from one-on-one interviews with individual children. The interviews are designed to elicit evidence of children’s mathematical thinking. They are not teaching episodes or formal assessments.