5 Tips for Past vs. Passed From Language Lady

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Slideshow: 5 Tips for Past vs. Passed From Language Lady

#1

 

Pass Is the Verb

The first thing I teach my students is that PASS is the verb. It is the current tense. We do not say Today I PAST the test. PASS/PASSED is the verb.

To cement this further, I ask them what would happen if we added the past tense suffix ED to the non-verb PAST. I love doing this because they look at each other and try to figure it out aloud: PASS/TED? Then I have them write PAST on their paper and add ED to it. In unison, they say PAY/STED (pasted)! This helps them really think about the fact that PAST is not the verb! PAST with ED has nothing to do with PASSING–it has to do with PASTING, as in gluing!

#2

 

Focus on PAST as a Preposition First

I like to break down and “play with” the word PAST first. Past can be one of three parts of speech (at least). Past is a preposition when it has an object following it: PAST the barn. PAST the house. PAST the school. 

I remind them of their Preposition Practice Pal and/or Preposition Check Sentences: Birdie flew PAST the tube or The angel flew PAST the cloud. Yep. PAST is a preposition. We practice with PAST as a preposition with many objects–and if I feel they are “getting it,” I will also have them highlight the verbs in the “past as a preposition” sentence. This helps them see that past is a preposition, and there is already a verb in that sentence. (More on this later….I don’t do too much of this yet!)

#3

 

Focus on PAST as Other Parts of Speech for Older Students

If the students are well-versed in prepositions with me, they are also well-versed in the fact that prepositions can also be other parts of speech. (We talk about this ALL the time, beginning with the preposition TO also used as part of an infinitive phrase: to run, to be, etc.) So they are used to my talks of “prepositions can also be….”! So we delve into two of the other things that the word PAST can often be: adverbs and adjectives. 

PAST is an adverb when it tells WHERE you went: We drove PAST. We just walked right PAST. (Some would argue that these are prepositions with their objects missing!) More importantly, however, PAST is an adjective that tells after a time or before and describes a noun: half PAST twelve; it is PAST noon; those are PAST memories. (Of course, PAST can be a noun when used in place of the word history or distance, but since it is usually a noun that is the object of a preposition {in the PAST; don’t dwell on the PAST}, I don’t bring this up—first PAST is a preposition, then it’s an object of a preposition????–Stop the madness! Poor kids!) 

#4

 

Use Structural Analysis When It Works

I like to give students as many tricks, tips, mnemonics, rhymes, jingles, and more for learning as I possibly can! And I like to use as many DIFFERENT ones as possible since one trick (recitation, for example) might work wonderfully for this student but not for another. Visual kids might not HEAR the difference between the base verb PASS and the word PAST (even without the ED added onto the PASS). However, that same visual student might do really well with structural analysis–analyzing the structure of words (and the visual/kinesthetic learner might learn really well by analyzing and highlighting or “coding” in some way). 

Thus, I like to point out that PAST ends with a T….. and THE begins with a T. Then I write on my board (or have them highlight it in their lesson where it is written): pasT The barn; pasT The school; pasT The park, etc. This further cements the fact that past is the preposition, not the verb. (We also place parentheses around all prepositional phrases when we “dissect” sentences, so I will have them do this as well.)

#5

 

Go Deeper With Older Students

For older kids, I give a dozen or more examples of all of the parts of speech that PAST can be–again pointing out that it is never PASS in these instances since PASS is a verb. I also have them practice writing examples of each instance of using PAST.
    a. Preposition: They drove PAST the gate
    b. Adjective: He is the PAST president. 
    c. Adverb: He flew PAST. 
    d. Noun: Let’s leave that in the PAST. 

Older students can also grasp the concept that if there is another MOVEMENT verb in the sentence (and it’s not a compound verb), you want the word PAST with it: We DROVE past the park. However, if there is not another movement verb in the sentence, you want the VERB PASSED: We PASSED the park.

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5 Tips for Beginning Essay Teaching From Language Lady

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5 Tips for Beginning Essay Teaching From Language Lady

#1

 

Essay Writing Is the Easiest Writing Place to Start

The range of “fun” and difficult in essays can’t be beat! An essay can be fun (three reasons Superman is the best super hero), hobby related (three easy cross stitch patterns), personal (your three favorite vacation foods), straightforward (three colors of the rainbow), formal (three quotations about a topic or by a person), or research-based (three reasons smoking should be banned in public buildings). Essays are easier to scale in terms of difficulty level because even second graders can learn to write a one paragraph personal essay (compared to a research-based report or story with story writing elements).

Along with the difficulty level in general, the number of skills needed is significantly less in beginning essay writing than in other types of writing. A student in elementary school who has learned the fundamentals of what a sentence contains, what a paragraph contains, and how to create a simple outline can start essay writing. There are myriad of skills that are needed for research writing and/or story writing. (Not that essay writing can’t be complex, as shown in my book, Meaningful Composition 11 I: The Three P’s of Persuasive Writing. However, those skills are not needed to begin essay writing.)

#2

 

Teach the Three-Topics-Three-Paragraph Method to Your Older Students

If your high schooler has never written a five-paragraph essay before, I recommend that you begin with what I call the “three topics/three paragraphs for the body” (P’soB) approach. This is a simplified way of teaching students how to write multiple paragraphs when they are not used to writing more than one or two paragraphs. In this approach, the student writes about three different things, such as three different foods or three different beaches or three different novels, etc.  For the overwhelmed older student who is trying to catch up in his writing skills, it is ideal because it feels like “three little essays” as opposed to three complete paragraphs for the body of a one-topic essay.

The beauty of this approach is that a student does not have to think about so much information for three paragraphs. He can simply plan out information for one paragraph of 6 to 8 sentences about one topic. He moves onto the next paragraph, and it is about a completely different topic. Then the student can tack on a thesis to the first paragraph and a closing sentence to the last paragraph—and have a three paragraph essay! I use this method extensively in my junior high writing books to teach students how to move into multi-paragraph writing painlessly.

#3

 

Always Have Students Outline Before They Write

I have had students who come back from college and bring me a paper to help them edit. When I mention that it seems a little “rambly,” the student sheepishly tells me that she didn’t have time to outline. And it shows. (She couldn’t have gotten away with that in my cottage classes as we take a grade on the outlining/prewriting step as well as any research steps that are needed for report writing!)

Outlining keeps a writer from rambling. It helps him get thoughts on paper in shortened form—while the ideas are flowing. He doesn’t have to interrupt the creative process with writing out full sentences or paragraphs. He can jot down notes quickly—thus, keeping up a little better with the mind than writing full sentences usually allows .Outlining is the thinking/creating step. Writing is the style step. By learning to outline first, the student’s focus is on gathering data and organizing it in the order he wants it. He doesn’t have to do so many skills at one time—research (or think in creative situations), write notes, determine order/placement of material, write quality sentences, divide paragraphs, edit, etc.

#4

 

Do Not Expect a Student to Include Too Many Unusual or “In Progress Skills” in One Essay

One of the most important things in teaching to me is student success. I want them to feel successful at the end of each project. The opposite of this happens when we assign a project without giving them the skills that are needed to complete the project. Because of this, all of the writing assignments in my books have skill building lessons for the tasks that are needed to complete the project. Thus, if they are doing a quotation essay, students will have lessons on how to punctuate quotes. If they are doing a research report, they will have lessons on how to research and organize material.

 

When students are first learning skills, we don’t want to expect too many of them all at the same time. For example, if he is still in the quotation process, have him simply add one quotation and be sure that, that week’s lesson includes quotation writing as a skill building lesson. Don’t assign a project with a formal tone if he doesn’t know the difference between first person, second person, and third person. In every project, a student should know how to do the skills that are expected of him in that type of writing.

#5

 

Don’t Make the Essay Writing Process Too Open Ended

One of the reasons why students have so much trouble in writing is because we simply give them writing topics. I know because when I first began writing curriculum in language arts and composition, I had a bookshelf full of writing prompts or writing idea books. We have to understand the difference between telling a student to write something and teaching a student how to write that.

We need to be sure that he understands the parameters–how many paragraphs, what each paragraph should contain, whether he is doing an opening or closing, whether the opening or closing had to be a specific style, what person he’s writing in, the tone of the paper, and much more. Writing idea books and writing prompts do not give a student the tools needed to learn how to write.

Resources for this Slideshow:

  1.  Essay Writing Is the Easiest Writing Place to StartCheck out a two-week sample from one of my intermediate essay books

     2. Teach the Three-Topics-Three-Paragraph Method to Your Older Students Check out a two-week sample from my upper level high school essay book

  1. Always Have Students Outline Before They WriteGet a free one month writing book at any level 
  2. Do Not Expect a Student to Include Too Many Unusual or “In Progress Skills” in One EssayCheck out these pre-writing skills…
  3. Don’t Make the Essay Writing Process Too Open EndedSee how students need specifics, not vagueness in this lesson and download

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5 Tips for Teaching & Learning Nouns From Language Lady

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5 Tips for Teaching & Learning Nouns From Language Lady

#1

 

Nouns Are Not the “Simplest” Parts of Speech

Kids from second grade on can often tell you that a noun is a “person, place, thing, or idea.” We tend to think that nouns are “easy.”  However, that simply isn’t true. Nouns are one of the most difficult parts of speech to spot because nouns act like other parts of speech all the time.

Look at these “nouns” that are acting, either directly or with suffixes added, like other parts of speech:

Noun                                  Verb                                   Describer
Taking a walk…         I walk down the road.            Walking stick
Set the table.            Let’s table that for later.        Table tennis
She is a beauty.       Beautify our yard.                 Beauty pageant

#2

 

Nouns Are Often Preceded by Noun Markers (Articles)

Because of the difficulty in recognizing nouns, I focus my noun teaching on helping students recognize words that tell them that a noun is coming. One category of words that tells us that a noun is coming is the noun marker or article. (I like to call them noun markers because the name tells what they do—they mark nouns, or tell you that a noun is coming.) While a noun marker doesn’t necessarily mean that a noun is the next word up, it does mean that one is coming soon.

Thus, learning to recognize these three little words is super helpful. You can use my rhyme if you’d like. (Oh, and notice the order….when you have a and an together, and you have the word and between them, students think AND is a noun marker.)

              An, the, a….three little words…

            Tell you that a noun is about to be heard.

#3

 

A Preposition Tells You That a Noun Might Be Coming Soon

The next category of words that indicates that a noun might be coming soon is the preposition. The preposition is the first word of a phrase (group of words that is not a sentence) known as a prepositional phrase. A prepositional phrase begins with a preposition and ends with the object of the preposition. That is where nouns come in: The object of a preposition is usually a noun (to the STORE) or pronoun (to HIM).

Thus, a preposition tells us that a noun might be coming soon. Since my students (my personal ones and those using my books) learn prepositions early and often, it is a natural step to teach that when you see a preposition, a word or two or three over will either be a noun or pronoun: INTO the river; OVER the rickety, dangerous bridge.

#4

 

An Adjective Tells You That a Noun Might Be Coming

An adjective is a describer that tells you something about a noun or pronoun. It describes a noun when it comes before a noun (the KIND lady). It describes a pronoun when it is a predicate adjective—an adjective in the predicate part of the sentence (the second half of the sentence) that describes something in the first part of the sentence. Predicate adjectives can describe nouns (The boy is STUDIOUS—studious describes boy) and pronouns (He is STUDIOUS—studious describes he).

Some handbooks consider possessives, articles, and clarifying words to be adjectives. Regardless of whether you learned it this way or not, descriptive adjectives should be taught as signaling words for nouns. Students can learn quickly that when they see a descriptive adjective, a noun will usually be following. An adjective tells us that a noun is coming right away (pretty DAY) or that a noun is coming in a little bit (in the case of two or more adjectives in a row—the noun isn’t necessarily right after the first adjective): pretty, warm, sunny DAY).

#5

 

A Possessive Tells You That a Noun Might Be Coming

As mentioned previously, some protocols teach that a possessive noun (Donna’s) or possessive pronoun (her, its, our) is an adjective. Regardless of how you classify possessives, they tell you that a noun could be coming next (or soon, if there is a describer between the possessive and the noun. Thus, I teach my students that possessives OWN (or possess) something (often a noun). This could happen right away: It is HER bike. Or it could happen after a possessive and some describers: That is Donna’s pretty, smooth pen.

It might seem laborious to teach all of these types of “signals” for nouns. However, they are parts of speech that students learn in grammar and writing all of the time. So let’s teach all of the uses for them at that time and make finding nouns then matching nouns with their correct case of describers and even correct number of noun markers, etc., much easier. After testing my books with one hundred students a year for nearly twenty years, I am all about making concepts as easy as possible for our amazing students!

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Slideshow: 5 MORE Preposition Tips From Language Lady

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5 MORE Preposition Tips From Language Lady

#1

 

Use Two Preposition Check Sentences to Introduce Prepositional Phrases

I talked about these in last week’s slideshow for Teaching Beginning Prepositions, but they work wonderfully for teaching prepositional phrases as well as lists of prepositions. The first Preposition Check Sentence that I teach is one that is focused on spatial relationships: The plane flew XXXX the clouds (under the clouds, through the clouds, over the clouds, in the clouds, between the clouds, atop the clouds, etc.). The second one that I teach is focused on time: The boys played XXXX the break (during the break, after the break, , before the break, etc.). These Check Sentences are amazingly efficient for helping students memorize long lists of prepositions while focusing on the PURPOSE of prepositions (showing spatial or time relationships).

Besides being invaluable for memorizing prepositions, these Check Sentences also teach students indirectly what a prepositional phrase is. The Check Sentences themselves contain prepositional phrases, so as students memorize prepositions, they are actually using prepositional phrases (under the clouds, through the clouds, over the clouds, in the clouds, between the clouds, during the break, after the break, , before the break, etc.). It is a natural progression to show students that in the Check Sentences, the object that the plane is underoverthrough, etc., is the object of the prepositional phrase.

#2

 

Isolate Prepositional Phrases With Parentheses

After using these Preposition Check Sentences with students, they are able to start finding prepositional phrases easily. They can HEAR the object because the Check Sentences have taught them the purpose of prepositions (not just a list of them). I use a Teach-Practice-Apply method in my books and classes, so as we go through practice sentences finding prepositional phrases together, we start out by highlighting all of the prepositions that they can find. Then I tell them which words they should have highlighted as prepositions, and on each one, I ask them PREPOSITION WHAT? or PREPOSITION WHOM? So when I come to by, I ask them “by WHAT?” I do this with every preposition they have highlighted: “to WHOM?” “for WHAT?” “over WHAT?” “from WHOM?” “under WHAT?”

THEN, we are ready to learn to isolate prepositional phrases with parentheses. This is an important step in the next point–we place parentheses around all prepositional phrases with the beginning parenthesis before the preposition and the closing parenthesis after the object of the preposition: (For example,) (in a given sentence), we place parentheses (around words) (like this). We do this after they have highlighted all of the words that they think are prepositions. This might sound laborious, but it becomes second nature very quickly–and is crucial for the REASONS for learning prepositional phrases: (1) To ignore them so you can match subjects and verbs; (2) To use as sentence openers (and punctuate them properly).

#3

 

Teach the Reasons for Learning Prepositional Phrases

The first reason that I teach students for learning prepositional phrases is the easier one (and one that they are familiar with because of my Checklist Challenge for their reports, stories, and essays) is to use them as sentence openers. Sentence openers are also called introductory material or non-essential information. Prepositional phrases make great sentence openers, and students need to learn how to locate them easily and punctuate them correctly. Therefore, once they can spot prepositional phrases quickly, they can use them in their writing–and place commas in the correct spots.

The second reason that I teach students for learning prepositional phrases is more difficult–but super important. They isolate all of their prepositional phrases with parentheses at first and then mentally later because the sentence’s main subject (and usually ANY subject) and main verb (and usually ANY verb) are not found within a prepositional phrase. This is crucial for subject verb agreement. Consider the isolation and main subjects and main verbs in the sentences below and the difference it makes when you don’t have the option of considering the prepositional phrase’s object in subject verb agreement:

  1. Thegirls (along with the one boy) WERE happy today.
  2. Thebaby (with the other kids) WAS cranky.

#4

 Teach That the Word TO Can Be a Preposition or the Beginning of an Infinitive (Special Verb)

There are many prepositions that are also other parts of speech. One of those is the word TO. The word TO is a preposition when it has an object following it (to the storeto Mom, etc.). The word TO is not a preposition when it has a verb with it (TO run, TO jumpTO be). Obviously, all “exceptions” and “special circumstances”  in grammar and usage can be confusing, but this one is especially challenging because TO is a high utility word, and prepositional phrases need to be located so that students are not tripped up in the aforementioned subject-verb agreement scenarios. 

I teach that TO + a verb is a special verb very early (second grade during our beginning preposition practice). It’s okay if they don’t know if it is called an infinitive. Once they know their BHL verbs (Be, a Helper, Link verbs) and have their Preposition Practice Pal, they are ready to NOT highlight TO as a preposition when it has a verb following it. At first, this is low key: “To run….can you do that? Then it’s not a prep!” Lessons, of just finding infinitives (to+verb) for a while then lessons telling when TO is used as a prep and when it is used as a special verb called an infinitive quickly follow that. This might sound difficult for second and third graders, but interacting with sentences is something we do every day in my classes and books (and applying these to their writing is something they do every week in the Checklist Challenge), so it becomes a natural response for them and something that we have many discussions about. 

#5

 

Teach That Some Prepositions Are Also Adverbs and Some Are Also Subordinators

As previously mentioned, all usage exceptions are complicated to teach. However, the ones that students encounter early and often must be given special priority. Such is the case for prepositions that are used as other parts of speech different times. In addition to the to+verb=infinitive situation, some prepositions are also adverbs, and some are also subordinators.  I talk them through these: “Up is a preposition. But remember that in order for a preposition to be a preposition, it must have an object following it. So in the sentence He woke up, UP tells how he woke and is an adverb. However, in the sentence The squirrel ran up the tree, UP is a preposition and the PP is UP the tree.” Prepositions that are also used as adverbs are those that sometimes follow a verb but do not have objects of the preposition with them: He woke UP; She slid DOWN; He shouted OUT; They fell DOWN.

Prepositions are also sometimes subordinators. As a matter of fact, there are so many prepositions that are also subordinators that I teach an entire group of them as students learn preps and subs (in my books and in the Think Fast Grammar Quiz downloadable packet). A subordinator is a word that is found at the beginning of a subordinate clause. We teachers and parents often learned this group of words as a dependent clause. I use that word sometimes as well, but I try to teach with a content-based focus, so I call them subordinate clauses because they contain subordinators at the beginning of them, and they are subordinate to the rest of the sentence (i.e. lesser). Subordinators that are also prepositions usually have to do with time relationships, such as during, after, as, before, etc. These are used as prepositions when they have objects (during the break, after the break, before the break, etc.). They are used as subordinators when they have subjects and verbs following them (and create subordinate clauses): After we left class; Before she resigned; As he bought groceries.

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Slideshow: 5 Beginning Preposition Tips

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5 Tips for Beginning Prepositions

#1

Start With Object Lessons

I start up my preposition teaching with young children by using objects to teach relationships. They learned that prepositions show position for recitation. Then I use an object such as a little Preposition Practice Pal. It’s a little toy,  like an army man, Polly pocket, or a character from a movie. They use this little character with a bathroom tissue  tube to show the position of the character to the tube.
A young student can learn up to one hundred prepositions with this method. For example as they manipulate their little character and a bathroom tissue tube, we say aloud,  “Birdie is UNDER the tube”; “Birdie is IN the tube”; “Birdie is AROUND the tube”; “Birdie is BETWEEN the tube”; “Birdie is AWAY from the tube”; “Birdie is THROUGH the tube.”

#2

 Use Rhymes and Mnemonics to Teach the Basics of Prepositions

I start all of my students out with the rhyme/recitation: “Prepositions Show Position.” One of the most important things that prepositions do is show a spatial relationship between one thing and another thing. We recite this rhyme weekly for several weeks and then do our practice with our objects.
Through the objects, as well as the rhyme, “Prepositions show position,” I am reinforcing the fact that a preposition has to have an object. I don’t even tell the students at this point that a preposition is the beginning of a prepositional phrase and that it has an object. They intuitively know that a preposition has an object that it is spatially related to. This makes it much easier later on to explain prepositional phrases. All of their positions with their toy and their tissue tube result in prepositional phrases naturally.

#3

Use Preposition Check Sentences to Teach the Spatial Relationship and the Time Relationship of Prepositions

Once students have learned the rhyme “Prepositions show position” and have practiced extensively with their objects to learn at least 20 to 50 prepositions, I move into the two Preposition Check Sentences that I use for all  levels from fifth grade and above. A Check Sentence continues to reinforce the spatial relationship: “The plane flew XXXX the clouds.” We have also used the sentence “The angel flew XXX the clouds” in our religious books. This first Check Sentence re-emphasizes what they have been doing with their little Preposition Practice Pals, except they start to do it in their heads rather than with physical objects. Most students can get up to 100 propositions memorized quickly with this check sentence alone.

The second check sentence that I use is one that shows the relationship of prepositions to time. While there is a small list of prepositions that have to do with time, there are enough to warrant their own check sentence. This Preposition Check Sentence  reads like this: “The boy played XXXX the break.” This check sentence accommodates the propositions that have to do with time: during, after, before, in the middle of, etc. 

#4

 

Don’t Rely on Songs or Rhymes Alone for Teaching Prepositions

Many students, myself included, have learned prepositions with songs or rhymes that have 30 or 40 prepositions in them. These lists are oftentimes  in alphabetical order, which helps with those many many propositions that begin with the letter A. However, since there are well over 200 preposition possibilities if you consider two or more words prepositions, compound prepositions, and prepositions that are used as other parts of speech at times, learning only thirty of them in a rhyme or song is not useful enough.
The other problem with learning them in only song or rhyme is that the song or rhyme has nothing to do with the usage of the propositions. While I use all types of songs, rhymes, mnemonic, jingles, and more to teach parts of speech, it is important that we use a mechanism that actually teaches students that use of that part of speech. Check sentence (for prepositions and for subordinators) teach students not only these lists of words, but they teach them these lists of words in the context of how they are used. In other words, they don’t just learn a list of prepositions, but they learn them in a spatial relationship sentence, which teaches them HOW they are used AND gives them a lengthy list of them in their repertoire. 

#5

 

Teach Students the Reason They Are Learning Prepositions As Early As Possible

As soon as students have an ample list of prepositions memorized, I teach them the reason that they are learning prepositions. The transition from learning a list of prepositions to finding prepositional phrases is a fairly easy one for students who have learned prepositions with a Preposition Practice Pal and Preposition Check Sentences. Just like in the Check Sentence when I asked the student “The plane flew in WHAT?” or “The plane flew around WHAT?” I do the same thing to teach prepositional phrases. First, students highlight prepositions in a paragraph, then we go through and put parentheses around prepositional phrases. We do this by my asking the question “Preposition WHOM?”  or “Preposition WHAT?” For example “By what?” (by the store) or “To who?” (to Joe). 

Once students can spot prepositional phrases easily, they learn that prepositional phrases are needed for two specific reasons. First, they are used as sentence openers. They learn that a prepositional phrase opener is often followed by a comma. They also learn prepositional phrases with in sentences are not followed by commas. Secondly, they learn to isolate prepositional phrases all throughout their sentences so that they can ignore the words in a prepositional phrases and match their subjects and verbs easily. For example, The girls (in the class) have straight A’s (not class HAS but girls HAVE). 

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Resources for This Slideshow:

1) Start With Object Lessons: http://characterinkblog.com/teaching-prepositions-with-facebook-live-teaching-video/#more-5345
2) Use Rhymes and Mnemonics to Teach the Basics of Prepositions:http://characterinkstore.com/product/beauty-beast-preposition-packet/
3. Use Preposition Check Sentences to Teach the Spatial Relationship and the Time Relationship of Prepositions: http://characterinkblog.com/preposition-practice-packet-product-intro-video/
4. Don’t Rely on Songs or Rhymes Alone for Teaching Prepositions:http://characterinkblog.com/beauty-and-beast-preposition-practice-new-digital-product/
5. Teach Students the Reason They Are Learning Prepositions As Early As Possible:http://characterinkblog.com/learn-teach-prepositions/

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