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Using Visual Art to Teach Prepositional Phrases

  • Author(s): Quinn, Robert D.
  • et al.
Abstract

A preposition, as one of the eight parts of speech, indicates a relationship between persons, places or things mentioned in a sentence. Many state curricula introduce prepositions at intermediate grade levels. Other states wait until middle school to do so. Students at such advanced levels of language learning should be able to readily assimilate prepositions into learning. Developing youngsters’ ability to recognize and use spatial language, such as the preposition, is an extremely important goal in the language arts. Fundamental, perhaps, to gaining entrance into the world of prepositions is the ability to visualize spatial relationships. The visual arts provide an ideal venue for discussing spatial concepts in written and spoken language, particularly through the use of prepositions. This article describes a unit of instruction used to engage pre-service generalist educators in an artmaking experience in illustration, printmaking, and bookmaking. The aim of the unit of instruction was to teach these undergraduates how to enhance their future students’ visual literacy in order to familiarize students to prepositions as a part of speech and the functions of prepositional phrases in a sentence. The goal of the unit was to create an alphabet book of illustrations representative of a variety of prepositional phrases. Since a prepositional phrase is comprised of a preposition, its object and any associated adjectives or adverbs, the visual arts provide an excellent way to envision the relationships between the preposition, its object, and any modifying words. In the unit of instruction, the students generated a variety of prepositional phrases derived from a collaboratively selected theme. Using a provided chart, students were assisted in generating outstanding prepositional phrases. Students were encouraged to create a sentence that provided rich visual imagery that could easily be illustrated. Students illustrated the prepositional phrase using a simple linoleum block printmaking process. The class’s finished illustrations were then collected together for a class book.

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