Using Words & Phrases to Signal Spatial & Temporal Relationships: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Good writers are always looking for ways to improve their writing. One way you can do this is by adding words and phrases that connect your ideas. Come and learn how to use words and phrases to signal spatial and temporal relationships.

Transition Words & Phrases

Good writers make sure that their writing is organized. In other words, they make sure that their ideas are sequenced correctly and that it is easy for readers to read what they have written. Something else that good writers do is write with style. This means that authors use words that spice up their writing, allowing readers to clearly hear their 'voice.'

Using transitional words and phrases are a way to improve organization and style in your writing. For instance:

'I took out the bread. I spread peanut butter and jelly. I ate my sandwich.'

How choppy does that sound? A transitional word or phrase could help to connect these choppy sentences. For example, you could write:

'First, I took out the bread. Then, I spread peanut butter and jelly. Finally, I ate my sandwich.'

How much better does that sound with the transitional words? Think of the transitional words as 'sticky words' that act like glue to hold together your writing.

Spatial Relationships & Words

Sometimes, you'll use transitional words or phrases when signaling a spatial relationship in your writing, which means describing where an object or person is located in relation to another object or person. Sometimes, the objects are close together. Other times, they are far away. Here are a few examples of words and phrases used to show spatial relationships:

  • Across
  • Above
  • Behind
  • Next to
  • In front of
  • To the right
  • To the left
  • Inside
  • Outside
  • Parallel to
  • Adjacent
  • Beyond
  • Far
  • Nearby

Temporal Relationships & Words

How difficult would it be to read a story that gave you no idea about the order in which things took place? That would be so frustrating; as the reader, you would have a very difficult time understanding the plot. This is where words used to show a temporal relationship come into play. These words indicate that there is a relationship involving time and/or logic.

Here are a few examples of temporal relationship words and phrases:

  • Before
  • After
  • First of all
  • Finally
  • At this point
  • Eventually
  • In the meantime
  • Last year
  • Next week
  • This Thanksgiving
  • Simultaneously
  • Again and again
  • Frequently
  • Occasionally
  • During
  • Time after time
  • In the end
  • Soon after
  • Last night
  • After breakfast

Examples for Practice

Okay, now it's time to put what you've just learned to the test. Let's start with a few pictures.

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