5 simple and fun activities to teach positional language to young children!

Do you ever let your child lead the way on a walk? Not always a safe or easy option (and it can take you down some interesting routes, so you may want to guide them a little!)… but we did this today and it led us to a learning opportunity!

My daughter chose to take a path under a bridge. She stood for a while listening to the sound of footsteps from the people walking over… it was the perfect moment for developing her language skills. We talked about being under the bridge and the bridge was going over us. I asked her to find the way to take us over the bridge; once on the bridge we watched the ducks swimming under the bridge… but why is positional language like this important for young children to learn?

Why is positional language important?

A good understanding of words such as; over, under, on, in, out, beside, beneath, above, outside and inside supports future mathematical concepts and literacy skills. It also helps a child to understand how they fit into the world around them and how objects relate to each other.

According to Development Matters, 2021, by the time children are 3-4 years old they should be learning to understand position through words alone -for example, “The bag is under the table,” -with no pointing.

5 activities for teaching positional language to your child

  1. Make an obstacle course; something for them to climb over, under and through, something to stand on… be creative and use what you have to hand.
  2. Teddy Hunt; Hide teddy and describe where it is so that they can go find it…. then it’s their turn – can they hide teddy and describe where it is so you can do the finding (encouraging positional language).
  3. Books; We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen is perfect for teaching positional language; I like to get my children to use their hands to make an over, under and through action. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill repeats positional language such as in and under.
  4. Playgrounds and soft play; a trip to either would create lots of opportunities to use positional language… on the steps, in the tunnel, under the slide, for example.
  5. Simon says; The grown-up can say things like Simon says put your hands on your head, Simon says put your hands under your foot, for example.

So next time you are out for a walk, let your little one lead the way if it is safe to do so… who knows what new adventures and learning opportunities you will find!


Play is worth understanding… visit PlayWorth.uk for information and to find more simple and fun ways to keep young children busy and learning through play.


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