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Tried and Tested - King of the castle

Subject: English

Lesson: Castles

Ages: Any

Supplied by: Lawrence Pagett, study skills adviser for the University of Wolverhampton

1. What is it?

Castles is a simple, fun lesson to teach prepositions (such as on, at, in, by, over and under) and adverbial phrases through telling a story.

2. Who is it aimed at?

Any pupils polishing literacy skills. You could also do it in other languages.

3. What do you want the lesson to achieve?

This lesson helps you to teach and practise prepositions in a creative way.

4. What happens in the lesson?

Pupils close their eyes while the instructor recounts an imaginary outing. The aim of the story is to describe the journey, get to the castle, go inside and picture all the rooms (and characters you encounter) marking out the prepositions as they come up. Afterwards, pupils get into small groups and share their experiences, particularly noting the prepositions they can remember. They can also write, paint or act out the story. The resulting "pieces" can be viewed, heard and marked by the class, reinforcing and improving learning.

5. How do you know it has been successful?

The lesson runs smoothly when pupils and teachers get fully involved in the process. In addition, you'll feel it's been a worthwhile learning exercise when plenty of preposition practice in written and spoken forms has taken place.

6. Why would you recommend this to other teachers?

It's fun and effective in meeting its aims. It is an engaging visual, auditory and kinesthetic exercise, using internal and external representational systems, which help with memory and learning assimilation. It can take as little as 10 minutes, or you can use it over several lessons.

7. Give us three top tips

- Get pupils to close their eyes as this maximises their attention and removes distractions. The exercise is greatly heightened by shutting off the main sensory input.

- Make a list of the prepositions you intend to practise before you craft your story and weave the tale around these grammar points.

- Keep the story fresh, original and surprising - immerse the pupils with a feast of the senses.

8. Useful resources

- Under, Over, by the Clover: What is a Preposition? by Brian P. Cleary.

- The Preposition Book: Practice Toward Mastering English Prepositions by Tom Cole.

- http:owl.english.purdue.eduowl for clear explanations of grammatical rules.

- www.englishpage.comprepositions for quizzes and exercises.

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