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EFL - ESL activities and games for teaching prepositions of time

An ESL lesson plan for teaching prepositions of time to intermediate level students. Feel free to use these ideas your classes and If you use an iOS or Android device, don't forget that you can get offline access to these materials through the TEFL Handbook app.

Lead-in activity

This ESL sample board can be used to highlight the usage of the prepositions of time in, at and on. Students at this level will be aware of these prepositions, but some will still get confused with their use. Therefore, the board serves as a nice lead-in activity that should get your students on the same page. The text in blue suggests opportunities to elicit responses.

EFL - ESL Lead-in activity for prepositions of time | Intermediate

ESL activities for prepositions of time

Preposition table

A pairwork activity where students have to complete a table by associating time expressions to prepositions.

Start by drawing a table on the board with the columns No prepositionInOn and At. Then tell your students to copy the table and populate it with the following expressions of time. You can add these to the bottom of the board.

Friday evening, September, yesterday morning, Christmas day, summer, midday, the 8th of September, tomorrow, the 15th century, the afternoon, Easter, tomorrow evening, the morning, lunchtime, 1981, half-past seven, next year.

Students then work in pairs to populate the table with these expressions.

Weekdays vs weekend

Students work in groups to contrast weekdays with the weekend.

First, elicit some everyday activities and add them to the board. Some examples could be:

Get up
Have breakfast, lunch or dinner
Arrive at work/school
Meet with friends
Do sports/hobbies
Spend time with family
Go to bed

Next, split the class into groups of three or four and have the students ask each other questions to find out how their weekday routines differ from their weekends. Monitor for the correct usage of time prepositions and demo with a student before the others begin. You may also want to encourage the use of frequency adverbs:

Teacher: What time do you get up on weekdays?
Student: I usually get up at 7:45.
Teacher: What about at the weekend?
Student: A lot later, normally at 11 o'clock.


For this speaking activity, students will take turns interviewing each other about what they did yesterday.

They should talk about each part of the day and use times where appropriate. The person who is interviewing should be encouraged to ask follow-up questions. During the interviews, you should monitor for the correct usage of prepositions of time, frequency adverbs and the past simple.

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Related games

Our game ideas are suitable for low-resource classrooms, so all you'll need is whiteboard, markers and some students.

Preposition sketch 

Students first have to write a sentence containing a time expression, before drawing a picture that will illustrate it to their teammates. 

Each student will need a small blank piece of paper, about half the size of an A4 sheet. Divide the class into two teams in a manner where no team member is sitting next to another. Assign each student a time expression and tell them to write it in the corner of one side and their name in another corner on that same side. 

Students then turn over the paper and write a sentence that is true for them using the given time expression. They will write about something that they did or will be doing at that time and must keep it secret. 

Once they have finished writing, have them turn over the paper again and inform them that they will have two minutes to draw a picture that represents their sentence. 

After the time is up, collect the pieces of paper, keeping a separate pile for each team and making sure that the drawing is facing upward. One group at a time, elicit the correct sentence for each piece of paper. The owner must remain silent while their team is guessing. Award a point when a team guesses a sentence. Some sample time expressions to help you: 

1. Friday evening 
2. September 
3. lunchtime 
4. the afternoon 
5. the morning 
6. 2014 
7. Christmas day 
8. Christmas 
9. midday 
10. next year

More B1 ESL lesson plans

We hope that you were able to grab a few ideas from this lesson plan. Our suggested next lesson is on the present tenses. Be sure to check out our complete collection of intermediate level lesson plans. For other levels, have a look at our entire collection of ESL lesson plans. Also, if you are an iOS or Android user, the best way to view this content is through the TEFL Handbook app. An ESL lesson planner for English teachers, designed for in-class use.

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