Prepositions: Teach Basic Concepts at Snack

Prepositions like in, on, under, and behind are concepts that children typically understand by the end of preschool. So preschool is the perfect time to really make sure that children know these prepositions. And what is a more engaging and fun time than snack time?! Before we jump into how to pull off your new favorite snack activity, here's some quick background info you need to know. When it comes to prepositions these are the basic spatial concepts and the ages that they are learned.

Basic Spatial Concepts



2 - 2 ½ yrs in, off
2 ½ - 3 yrs on, under, out of, away from
3 - 3 ½ yrs toward, up
3 ½ - 4 yrs in front of, in back of, next to, around
4 - 4 ½ yrs beside,
4 ½ - 5 yrs down, ahead of, behind
source: So let's move on to the good stuff! and plan how to make and use your snack mats.

Steps to Plan Your Snack Mat Activity

  1. Choose which prepositions to teach.
    1. Which prepositions does your child understand and which ones are difficult?
      1. If your child understands a lot of prepositions and this activity is just to review, then pick 4-5 prepositions.
      2. If a preposition is new to your child, keep the activity simple by choosing 2 opposite prepositions like "on" and "off" or "under" and "on."
  2. How complex do you want the activity to be?
    1. After you've picked out your prepositions, do you want to make the activity more complex by targeting other things like noun modifiers? (size, color, shape, etc)
      1. Yes: When you're making your snack mat, add more variety to the clipart (example later in the post)
      2. No: Keep your clipart simple : )
  3. Plan the Directions
    1. Combine the prepositions and noun modifiers (optional) into directions like "Put a cheerio on the red apple."
    2. Your directions can include adding the treats onto the snack mat and then, once the snack mat is full of treats, can be to eat the treat.
  4. Prepping your materials.
    1. How to Make Snack Mats
      1. Find public domain clipart then copy & paste it onto a Word document.
      2. After you've printed the Word document, preserve it by laminating or putting it inside a plastic sleeve.
    2. Choose Your Snack
      1. You want to keep this activity fun for more than 10 seconds so you need to pick small treats like mini m&ms, cheerios, or mini marshmallows.
      2. Always go with the smallest treat possible to avoid over saturating the reinforcer, aka having so big of treats that the treats are no longer special and not worth working for.

Snack Mat Examples

Here's an example of a really simple snack mat. With this snack mat, you'll give really simple directions like "Put the cheerio on the apple" or "Put the cheerio under the strawberry." This snack mat below is an example of when you want to make it more complex by adding a noun modifier (color). Your directions would sound something like, "Put the cheerio under the red apple" or "Put the marshmallow above the green apple." Multiple targets like noun modifiers (color, size) and different types of items make this snack mat much more complex. Directions would be something like "Put the cheerio under the big red apple" or "Eat the cheerio that's above the small red apple." I love using snack mats because they're so easy to individualize and quick to make!

How do you like to teach prepositions? Have you every tried using snack mats? Click To Tweet

These directions are not only awesome for directly teaching prepositions, but also to develop auditory and working memory skills. When there's auditory/listening skills involved, you'll probably want to incorporate some Listening and Spoken Language strategies like Acoustic Highlighting.

There it is! Didn't think prepositions could be in a legit'ly fun activity?

Give it a try and break out the m&m's!

(P.S. This post may contain affiliate links 'cause momma's gotta bring home the bacon.)

5 thoughts on “Prepositions: Teach Basic Concepts at Snack

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read previous post:
Expand Your Child’s Language in Everyday Conversations

So if your child has difficulty communicating, you do want to help them continue to develop language but you don't...