Game in Japanese


Under, on, in Prepositions Game

Author: Nigel in Fukuoka
level: Elementary
Target_English: Under, on, in, next to, far from, in front of, behind



Or this is an even better version ...



And you can link this in with any other themes you've done by using the software, e.g. Rooms of the House or Breakfast.



This is a great game for practising the words used in the Under, on, in song. As usual, do a warm up, then the song ( make sure they use their bodies as described) , then as the kids will now know most of the words, let's try the game.

There are two versions, one for larger groups that uses "on" and "under" and one for smaller groups that uses "in front of" and "behind". But you can also split a big class and play the small group version.

Big Class - On the board - Version


1. Put 16 animal picture cards on the board in a 4 x 4 pattern. And put the kids in groups.

2. Pick an animal. For example the snail.

3. You ask "Where's the snail?"

4. Explain to the kids the possible answers e.g.
Under the dinosaur
On the turkey ( or on top of the turkey)
Next to the rabbit
Next to the penguin

In this game with also designate "near" as meaning diagonally away from i.e. we can also have
The snail is near the duck
The snail is near the camel
The snail is near the tortoise
The snail is near the bear.

Plus if you want you can add in the bonus word of "far from". In the game we define "far from" as the card that is the farthest away i.e.
The snail is far from the bee.

OK, you got all that?

5. Now choose a different animal, let's say the dragon.

6. Ask the kids "Where's the dragon?"

7. The first group answers with one possibility e.g. "It's under the lion". They get one point.

8. The next group then gives one answer e.g. "It's near the rabbit". They get one point.

9. If a team makes a mistake they get no points and the next team can answer.

10. Keep going till all the possible answers have gone. e.g. in this case there are 4 possible answers for "Where's the dragon?". ( "next to the tortoise" and "far from the kangaroo" are the other two).

11. When all the answers have gone take that animal from the board i.e. we just did "Where's the dragon?" so we take the dragon picture off the board.

12. The next group gets to ask "Where's the ...?" plus another animal. They get a point if they say it correctly.

13. Continue from step 8.


It's a really fun game and as the amount of animals keeps getting smaller the amount of possible answers keeps decreases, which the kids love.

Sometimes when you have run out of answers a clever kid will come up with "It's not under the duck", which can make things even more complex!

If you keep a good pace it's great practice especially of things like "Under" and "On" which can be confusing if kids have learnt them using something other than Genki English e.g. if Japanese kids haven't done the song using their bodies, they will often get the order wrong and say things like "The camel is on the hippo".


Small Groups - On the desk - Version

For this version you need to make a trip to the 100 Yen or Dollar Store and pick up a 100 yen pack of small toy animals. You arrange them on the desk in a 4x4 pattern, but make sure they are all facing in the same direction. You do the same just the same as above but this time you can use "in front of" and "behind" instead of "under" and "on".

For large classes do the board version first, then split the kids in groups and let then try the small version.

If you are using toys you can also use several of each item to practice "Where are...?" e.g. "Where are the gorillas?" "They are in front of the giraffes." etc.

by Nigel in Fukuoka




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