OVER THE MOON: Teaching Prepositional Phrases with Poetry

Aboard, about, above, across, 
against, along, around…


If the tune of Yankee Doodle is echoing in your brain right now, you’ve probably taught the preposition song to students at some point. Perhaps you’ve shown your class the School House Rock “Busy Prepositions” video.


Being able to identify and use prepositions is a grammar skill written into language arts standards across grade levels. But to really get students to see the versatility of this “busy” part of speech, throw some poetry into the mix.


Wait. Using poetry to teach grammar?  


This might seem an unlikely combination.  But like peanut butter and chocolate, when paired together, poetry and grammar yield surprisingly appealing results.

As a teacher, I’m always looking for ways to make grammar lessons more appetizing. 

I prescribe to a functional approach to grammar. This method, explained in Teaching Grammar in Context, by Constance Weaver, focuses on how language works in real-world contexts. It maximizes the use of examples from mentor texts and encourages students to explore concepts in their own writing. Poetry, with its concise but rich format, provides great grammar mentor texts. 

I especially enjoy using poetry to show students the power prepositional phrases give writers to connect and expand ideas.


One book that’s a super prepositional phrase mentor text is Among a Thousand Fireflies by Helen Frost. Frost’s book is a long free verse poem embedded with prepositional phrases. As I read the book, I ask students to write down prepositional phrases that strike them.  After students identify the prepositional phrases within the book, I ask them what they notice about the placement of those phrases.  How do they connect ideas? Help the poem flow?


Then I have students go on their own “prepositional phrase hunt” through other picture book poetry collections. (For a list of poetry picture books that make great mentor texts, see my post POETRY: LITERACY’S SUPERFOOD.) When they find a poem that uses prepositional phrases, I have the students write down those phrases Then we share all the prepositional phrases we’ve discovered.


Finally, I have students write their own prepositional phrase poems. I challenge them to follow these parameters:


·      Write at least ten lines. 

·      Start most of your lines with a prepositional phrase. 

·      Use a variety of prepositions to create a “picture” for your readers.

·      Identify your prepositional phrases with italics.


I use my own prepositional phrase poem as a model. (I originally wrote this poem for my book Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market. However, it was not included in the final edition because we decided to focus on summer markets.)

To give students another example and more inspiration, I also share this prepositional phrase poem by a former student:


In The Circle

In the circle

With dark blue and white socks around my ankles

Around me

Nine sweaty boys

In sleeveless shirts

The ball

Up in the air

On my hand like a glove

Flying back

Behind me in my teammate's hands

Around the arc

In the post

In the basket


Fourth quarter

Down thirteen

With no hope

Throw in the ball

Up the court

Shot after shot

Into the net

For the tie!

Off the glass and into the net

Press! Press!

Grab the ball!

Through the lane!

Over and in

Up by two!



The sound of the net's splash

In my ears


Into the out of bounds

Free throw

Over the rim and out

We lose, but we'll be back


-Ibrahim, Grade 7


For a step-by-step lesson on how to use poetry to boost understanding of prepositional phrases, click HERE.


Writing prepositional phrase poems helps students reinforce a key grammar skill…


beyond boring worksheets

through an accessible form

in their own creative way!


You’ll be over the moon with the results!

About Michelle Schaub

Michelle Schaub is a language arts teacher and award-winning children's poet. She is the author of the picture book poetry collections Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market, (which won the 2018 Growing Good Kids Award and 2019 Northern Lights Book Award,) and Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections. She also wrote Kindness is a Kite String and the bedtime STEM book in verse, Dream Big, Little Scientists. Her poems appear in several anthologies, including The Poetry Anthology for Celebrations and Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud.  Michelle speaks at conferences on the power of poetry to boost literacy. Find out more at:  https://www.michelleschaub.com/