Step 1: Gather materials.
- The book, Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins
- Masks or other representations of an object or an animal for each child (You will need masks for Rosie, the fox, the wagon, the milk barrels, the farm house, the chicken coop, the windmill, the tractor, the beehives, the haystack, the goat and the pond. There should be a mask for each child in your group or class, so that everyone can participate in the role-playing.)
- Using the book as a guide, create a map of the farmyard on a large piece of chart paper. The map should be large enough so that you can maneuver a cutout of Rosie and the fox around the map to emphasize the positional words. This could work with a felt board as well.
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.
- Begin the activity by asking the children to come near and join you on the rug. Use a couple of directional words to guide their positioning. Say: “If you are too far away from me, you won’t be able to hear. Don’t sit behind the easel because you won’t be able to see.” Emphasize the directional words as you give the instructions.
- When the children are gathered, ask them how they knew what to do. What words gave them a hint as to where to go and how to position themselves? Explain that you asked the children to come near and you instructed them not to be too far away and not to sit behind the easel. Say: “Near, far and behind are all positional words that help you to navigate your positioning. We use positional words to give directions and to make sure we know where other objects are located in relation to ourselves.” Say: “You all are near me. Nobody is sitting behind the easel. And nobody is too far away to hear me.”
- Introduce the book. Say: “Today we are going to take a walk with Rosie. We will be paying attention to all of the positional words that describe her walk around the farmyard. When you think you hear a word that describes Rosie’s location or where she is walking, please raise a quiet hand. Let’s begin by looking at the cover of the book.”
- Ask the children to describe the cover and what they see by using some positional words. Initiate dialogue by first describing where Rosie is. Say: “I see that Rosie is next to the chicken coop. Rosie is in front of the tree. Uh oh! I see a fox behind Rosie.” Ask the children to describe what they see. If they don’t use positional words, redirect their observations using directional words. Ask about several of the objects in relation to Rosie. Say: “Where is the windmill?” (Behind Rosie). You can also point out the opposite use of the positional words. For example, say: “Yes, the windmill is behind Rosie. Or we can say, Rosie is in front of the windmill. Depending on who or what we were asking about.”
- Using the map of the farmyard, model where Rosie is after the children describe her location. Be sure that you can position Rosie and the fox around the farmyard. Continue to move Rosie and the fox around the farmyard map as you read the book.
- Read the book. There aren’t many words in the book, so you will need to ask the questions that describe Rosie’s locations. The first page shows Rosie in her henhouse. In this case, you could put the cutout of Rosie directly on top of the henhouse on the map. Ask: “Where is Rosie?” (In her house) Turn the page. Ask: “Uh, oh. Where’s the fox?” (Under/underneath Rosie’s house/coop) Position the cutout of the fox under the chicken coop.
- Continue reading the book. Prompt the children to describe Rosie’s location in relation to other objects and the fox. Use the fox and Rosie cutouts and the farmyard map to reinforce the positional words.
Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.
- Explain that now they will have an opportunity to act out Rosie’s walk. Say: “Some of you will get to play a farm object and one of you will play Rosie and one of you will play the part of the fox. We will take turns so that all of you will get a chance to play several different parts.” Hand out the various masks to each of the children.
- Position the children all around the room. Encourage them to sit on chairs, crawl under tables and go behind one another. Say: “Everyone get into position and when I say ‘Freeze!’ you will need to stop and we will begin Rosie’s walk.”
- Have the children describe where they are in relation to the other farmyard objects and Rosie and the fox. For example, say: “I am the wagon, and I am next to the barn. I am the chicken coop and I am above the table.” Have each of the children call out their positions.
- Start Rosie on her walk. When Rosie starts walking, have the fox slyly follow her. Again, say “Freeze!” as Rosie is walking and have the children give their positions in relation to Rosie and the fox. For example, say: “I am the windmill and I am far away from Rosie.” Also have Rosie and the fox declare their positions, either in relation to each other or to the objects in the farmyard. For example, say: “I am the fox and I am behind Rosie. I am Rosie and I am in front of the fox.”
- Play this game several times, with the children changing roles each time. Encourage the children to get really creative (but safe!) with their positions to increase the number of positional words that can be used.
- The children can draw their own maps of the farmyard, maneuvering their own cutouts of Rosie and the fox to describe the characters’ positioning.
- Give the children a sheet with some familiar positional words and have them draw a corresponding picture. Be sure to leave enough room after the words so that the children can draw a picture that represents the word.
Step 4: Vocabulary.
There are so many potential vocabulary words that could be listed. Below are some of the words used in this lesson, but you should feel free to add to this list. Keep a list of what has been used and incorporate the words into this lesson.
- In front of: Located before or ahead of
- Next to: Beside, along
- Behind: At the back of
- Under: On a lower level than
- Above: Physically over, on top of
- On: Positioned at the upper surface of, touching from above
- Near: Close to
- Far: Distance in space or time
- Inside: Interior, in something
Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.
Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
- Have limited vocabulary and difficulty with word retrieval when describing the positions of the farmyard objects or characters
- Have difficulty observing their positions in relation to others
Child care providers may:
- Use just a few positional words in the beginning (behind, in front of, next to) and expand the positional vocabulary as the children learn new words
- Ask questions that include a positional word so that the children can answer “yes” or “no” to the questions: “Are you behind the wagon?”
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
- Be ready to expand their vocabulary by adding more positional words to the game and to the story
- Be able to demonstrate their understanding of positional words by not only describing the positions but by writing about and drawing them as well
Child care providers may:
- Suggest some additional positional words to use when reading the book and role-playing (e.g., across from, between, opposite, outside)
- Give the children a list of positional vocabulary words, with space next to the words that can be used to draw and write a definition of each word
- Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins (New York: Alladin, 1971)
Music and Movement
Play an adapted game of Simon Says in a playground area. Call out commands that use positional words. Say: “Simon says ‘Go behind the tree. Simon says crawl under the slide.'”