Step 1: Gather materials.
- Realistic pictures of diagonal, horizontal and vertical objects
- Poster board
- Index cards (4×6)
- Glue stick
Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.
Step 2: Introduce activity.
- Before you begin the lesson, create the table below. Use markers to draw a chart and write the orientation terms on the poster board. Cut out the pictures of the arrows (e.g., diagonal, horizontal and vertical) and glue each one onto an index card and place it under the appropriate heading.
- Explain to the children that they are going to learn new words. Point to the diagonal arrow and say: “Our first word is diagonal.” Using your photo cards, explain: “Now I am going to show you some pictures of objects that are diagonal.” Place one or two of the diagonal photo cards under the diagonal heading.
- Show the horizontal arrow and say: “Our second word is horizontal.” Using your photo cards, explain: “Now I am going to show you some pictures of objects that are horizontal.” Place one or two of the horizontal photo cards under the horizontal heading.
- Show the vertical arrow and say: “Our third word is vertical.” Using your photo cards, explain: “Now I am going to show you some pictures of objects that are vertical.” Place one or two of the vertical photo cards under the vertical heading.
- Ask for volunteers to place the remaining cards in the proper categories. Hold up one of the cards for all of the children to see and ask: “In which category do you think the picture should go?” After the volunteer places the photo card in a category, ask the volunteer why he/she placed the card in that category. By asking the children to explain their reasoning, you should be able to come up with definitions for each of the words. For example, if a child explains that they placed a picture of a rocket ship blasting off into the vertical category because the rocket ship is going up, then you can start to formulate a definition of vertical using the word “up.” Tell the children to place the remaining cards as you write down definitions for each of the three words.
Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.
- After the children have seen all of the photo cards, explain that they will now play a sorting game.
- Take all of the cards down from the chart and pass out a card to each child. Ask the children to look at their photo cards and decide if they show an object that is diagonal, horizontal or vertical.
- Ask the children to choose the category/arrow that their photo card should go under and allow them to put their cards on the chart.
- Repeat until all of the photo cards have been sorted.
- Use real objects instead of photo cards.
- Use the new vocabulary during transition times. While the children are lining up, you can say: “It’s time to go outside. I need everyone to stand up straight and vertical and then line up at the door.” For nap time, you can say: “It is time for everyone to lie down horizontally on their rest mats.”
Step 4: Teach math vocabulary.
- Horizontal: Going side-to-side, like the horizon
- Vertical: In an up-down position, upright
- Diagonal: In a slanted direction
Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.
Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
- Have limited vocabulary and difficulty with word retrieval when looking at and sorting the cards
Home child care providers may:
- Use just one directional word at a time (Ask questions that include a directional word so that the children can answer “yes” or “no” to the questions.”)
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
- Be ready to apply their knowledge beyond the chosen cards
Home child care providers may:
- Use real objects instead of photo cards to show the meaning of vertical, horizontal and vertical
- Use the new vocabulary during transition times (Lining up, you can say: “It is time to go outside. I need everyone to stand up straight and vertical and then line up at the door.” For nap time, you can say: “It is time for everyone to lie down horizontally on their rest mats.”)
- Pattern by Henry Arthur Pluckrose (Danbury, CT: Childrens Press, 1995)
- Ups and Downs: A Book of Positional Words by School Zone Publishing Company (Grand Haven, MI: School Zone Publishing Company, 2000)
Music and Movement
- A visual song that teaches the meanings of many positional/directional words pinterest.com/pin/110056784615830789/
- Sing and play “We’re going on a Bear Hunt.” www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytc0U2WAz4s
- Play an adapted game of Mother May I? in a playground area. Explain that the children can move vertically (forwards and backwards/up and down) and that they can move horizontally (side to side) or diagonally (on the slant). The children will have to ask how they can move towards the finish line (vertically, horizontally or diagonally).
- Fun and easy games about prepositions www.themagiccrayons.com/games/prepositions/
- Use prepositions to find a tiny mouse. www.misscarolina.cl/2008/11/prepositions-where-is-the-mouse/
- A Clifford the Dog positional/directional word game pbskids.org/clifford/games/whichclifford-game-pup.html