Activities for Practice: Food on the Shelf

(excerpted and adapted from Tutoring ESL: A Handbook for Volunteers)

MS Word .doc version (39 kb)

Purpose: Practice nouns and prepositions.

Materials: Actual refrigerator or model of refrigerator, and/or actual or model of food storage cabinet, actual food or play food.

If you decide to use models, you can acquire them at a thrift store. Or, during an earlier lesson, you and students can work together to make the models of the refrigerator and/or food storage cabinet and the models of the food items.


You can give the directions and ask the questions in this activity, or two students can do it independently.

One person directs the other in placing the “food” on the “shelves,” using directional vocabulary. Example:

Student 1: Put the milk on the top shelf. Put the lettuce on the second-from-the-bottom shelf, next to the bread.

Then, the students can practice questions and answers. Example:

Student 1: Where is the milk?

Student 2: It’s on the top shelf.


Start out with a few items and simple directions, then gradually increase the complexity.

If you use models, be sure that students understand the relationship between real shelves and the symbolic ones.

If you decide to use models, you could still begin by looking at a real refrigerator and doing some questions and answers about the food that’s in there.

From Tutoring ESL: A Handbook for Volunteers. Reproduced with permission from the publisher, Tacoma Community House Training Project, Tacoma, WA 98405.

Excerpted and adapted, with permission, by

Kaizen Program
for New English Learners with Visual Limitations
email: kaizen ( at )