Math shape activities like battleship

5 Easy and Fun Kindergarten Activities for Positional Words

Positional words are fun and easy to teach, though as a teacher, you might be wondering when you might incorporate them into your math lessons. There are so many objectives to teach throughout the year, when can you fit in positional words? Simple answer, during your geometry unit. 

When I teach geometry, I also teach positional words as well. Geometry and positional words do go hand in hand. It is an important skill for kindergarteners to learn, and there are plenty of ways to teach these words and make them interactive and fun for your students. 

In this blog post, I will share with you 5 easy and fun kindergarten activities for positional words. 

What Are Positional Words?

Before you start teaching positional words, you need to know what they are. Positional words refer to where things are positioned or where they appear with other things. 

Prepositional words are the following: 

  • above
  • before
  • behind
  • below
  • beneath
  • beside
  • between
  • by
  • close (to)
  • down
  • far (from)
  • in
  • inside
  • near
  • next to
  • off
  • on
  • outside
  • over
  • through
  • under
  • up
  • with

Having an understanding of position and how things are positioned relative to each other is part of a child’s Visual development.

Activities for Positional Words

There are many different ways to teach positional words to your students. I love finding easy and engaging activities to use with my students. I want them to understand the vocabulary, but I want them to have an authentic experience with these words and not just use worksheets where they are cutting and gluing objects in the correct places on the worksheet. 

Below are 5 ways you can teach positional words with your kindergarten students.

Battleship for Positional Words

Playing battleship is one of my favorite games to play now and as a child.  I play this with a twist though for my students. First, I create a grid with 9-12 boxes with some shapes placed in a few boxes (for example a square, a rectangle, a triangle, and a circle). Then I put students in groups of 2 or three because sometimes, you don’t have an even number of students. I have each student put up a  privacy folder, and then I hand each student a tiny eraser (ones you can find in the Target Dollar Spot), and they can place it on any blank square in the grid. 

battleship can be used for positional words games

Then the students start asking questions such as “Is your eraser next to the triangle?”. If it isn’t, the student says so and the other student can mark that off as a place the eraser isn’t.  They keep guessing using words until they guess the correct place that the eraser is. Then they play it again. It is a great way for students to not only practice positional words but also to review shapes as well.

Real World Pictures for Positional Words

I love using real-world pictures to teach geometry. I even have it in my Number Talks. You can also use real-world pictures for positional words as well. I love taking pictures around my school and showing those pictures to my students. This creates an authentic connection for my students and they can see everyday objects in their positional environment. Once I show the students the picture,  I ask them to find geometrical shapes in the pictures. 

real-world pictures for positional words

I also use these pictures to play a game of “I Spy”. I have an object in mind, and I give them a clue. They make a guess, and if they are wrong, I tell them “Good guess, but it is (under, over, next to) the said object. The students keep guessing until they get the answer. 

Another way I have students guess is by using positional words as well. So instead of guessing the object, they may say “Is it next to____?” and I would either confirm or give them another clue. My students love playing this game and I even let them come up and have the students guess the object that they spy. 

Hide an Object for Positional Words

This is a fun game for my students. I usually choose one student to hide an object in the classroom (I might use anything from a stuffed animal to a math manipulative). While the child is hiding the object, I have my students closing their eyes at the front of the classroom with their backs turned to the “hider”. I go over the rules that if they peek, or look at all, I won’t call on them to make a guess. 

hiding an object for positional words

Once the “hider” is done, I have the students open their eyes and then raise their hands to ask where the object is. So for example they might ask “Is it near the window?” and the “hider” has to answer the question. They keep going until the students have located the object with their questions. 

Draw a Picture for Positional Words

Another game I like to use is directed drawing. I love having students draw an object and then add details following my directions that include positional words. So for example, I might have them draw a snowman (or something easy like that). Then I instruct them to draw other objects with the drawing. For example, I might say “Draw a hat on top of the snowman’s head.” or “Draw a shovel next to the snowman.”

drawing is great for positional words

Simon Says for Positional Words

The final activity I have the students do is a loved game by all students alike. “Simon Says”. This can even be used during your morning meeting time! With this game you can give directions such as “Simon Says, put your right hand on top of your nose.” or “Simon Says, put your hand next to your hip.” Students love playing this game and it also practices their listening skills! Try this out during your next morning meeting time. 

Positional Activities for Kindergarten

Positional words are so much fun to use in the classroom. You can teach the concepts during morning meeting time or during your geometry unit. 

There are many different ways to teach positional words to your students. I love finding easy and engaging activities to use with my students. I want them to understand the vocabulary, but I want them to have an authentic experience with these words and not just use worksheets where they are cutting and gluing objects in the correct places on the worksheet. 

So next time you are teaching positional words, try any of the following:

  • Battleship Geometry, where they are locating where an eraser is on a grid.
  • Real-world pictures where you can play “I Spy” using positional words.
  • Hide an object where students have to guess where the “hider” hid an object in the room.
  • Drawing a picture where they have to follow your directions on what to add to a picture.
  • Simon Says where you play the classic game and practice their listening skills.

Let me know in the comments below what you enjoy teaching during this unit to help your students. 

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Hi, I'm Meg!

I have ben teaching in the classroom for over 15 years! I love teaching math and finding new and engaging ways to teach my students.

When I am not teaching you can find me at Target, at a baseball game (GO Nats!), binge watching fun shows, or snuggling with my cats!

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