Read what a teacher says about this activity:

‘I support my learners when answering questions by using gap fills – sentences with gaps where they fill in the answers. This helps them to write full sentences even when they do not know much English. I also use this game to teach grammar, such as the time prepositions in/on/at which learners often make mistakes with.’ 

Stage 1: Prepare 

Cut up scrap paper into small pieces. Each learner should have around ten pieces. 

Write these prepositions on the board: 

  • on 
  • in 
  • at.  

Stage 2: Explain 

Hold up several of the pieces of paper.  

Say: ‘We are going to work in pairs to play a game. You are going to compete against your partner to win as many bits of paper as possible. Each piece of paper is worth one point.’ 

Explain that you will read sentences that have gaps where the preposition should be. 

Say: ‘When I reach a gap, I am going to say “beep”. Listen carefully and write what you think the word should be. Don’t let your partner see your paper. We are going to see who is right. The winner gets both pieces of paper.’ 

Stage 3: Model 

Use a larger piece of paper and a marker so that everyone will be able to see. 

Say: ‘Listen to the sentence. Guess what word belongs in the gap.’ 

Read: ‘My birthday is “beep” 29 November.’ 

Ask: ‘What word should we use instead of “beep”?’ 

Elicit answers from the class and write on on your paper and hold it up for the class to read.  Repeat the sentence using the preposition. 

Say: ‘My birthday is on 29 November.’ 

Stage 4: Play the game 

Give each pair of learners some pieces of paper. 

Say: ‘Listen carefully. I play soccer “beep” Wednesdays and Saturdays. Write the correct word on your paper. Don’t show anyone.’ 

Give the learners about five seconds to write. 

Say: ‘When I say go, turn your papers over. Look at your partners’ answers. The answer is on.’ 

Say ‘go’ and let the learners look at the answers. 

Ask: ‘Did you both get on? If you did, leave your paper on the desk. Did one of you get the answer right but the other didn’t? If only one of you got it right, you can take both pieces of paper.’ 

Check that learners are following the instructions. 

Repeat with other sentences like: 

  • School starts _____ ‘beep’ 8.30 a.m. 
  • I’m going to the farm ____ ‘beep’ the holidays. 
  • I live _______ ‘beep’ the village. 
  • We like to swim _______ ‘beep’ the river. 

Stage 5: End the game 

When you have done several sentences, stop the game and get students to count how many bits of paper they won. Rather than having just one or two winners in the class, there are many winners.  

Say: ‘Have you learned where to use on, in and at?’ 

Adapt the lesson by using different parts of speech, or by asking questions from a reading or listening comprehension exercise. 

Extend the activity by writing the sentences with the gaps on the board and asking learners to complete the gap fill exercise in their books. 


Elicit: How a teacher gets information from learners, e.g. asking questions, prompting. 

Gap fill: A kind of task or test which has sentences with spaces in them. The learner needs to fill the gap with the correct language item.