MC9 Intervention Overview

Using the SHAPE CODING™ System S+V+GOAL(PP) Intervention Outline

Materials required:

  • S+V+Goal (Prepositional Phrase) sentence shape coding prompt.
  • 5 large, individual SC shapes: oval, long hexagon,  semicircle, rectangle, (diamond)and/or SC app.
  • Symbols/ text for target preposition words.
  • Small figures, toy transport and miniature locations (e.g. house, bridge, tunnel, shop)
  • Small pictures or text flashcards of people and places.
  • List of motion verbs and prepositions for each session.


1.Assess comprehension of target structure using S+V+GOAL (PP) probe or through play. If <80% accurate, start with Step 1 (teaching comprehension). Focus on expressive work later in intervention.


If 80% accurate, consolidate comprehension with expressive work by alternating turns at sentence construction from Step 3.  


2. Introduce the sentence coding. Place a figure/photo/name in the oval, a small car on the blue line, preposition symbol/word for ‘to’ on the yellow line and an image of a park/word on the rectangle. Say, “John is driving to the park” and point to the shapes as you speak. Act this sentence out by picking up the figure/name, placing it on the car and moving both along to the park. Replace figure and car in their original shapes. Ask these questions and ensure the child answers using the information from the appropriate shape.

Who is driving to the park?  John (oval)

What is John doing? Driving (to the park) (hexagon)

Where is John driving? to the park (semicircle)

(Where is John driving to? the park (rectangle)

3. Change the place only e.g. shop and say ‘John is driving to the shop.’ Ask the child to act out this sentence. Make sure child moves John and not the shop. Ask questions as in step 2. Repeat with a few other locations and different people/subjects.

4. Now start changing the verbs. Use another toy e.g. bike/horse for the verb ‘riding’ or make the figure walk, run, hop, etc. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with verbs that use ‘to’ as a preposition. Alternate between acting out the sentence yourself with asking the child to act out the scene.  Keep asking individual questions to ensure child understands which part of sentence corresponds to which question/phrase/shape.

5. Target different prepositions one at a time using steps 2-4. Introduce each with a sign/symbol or written word.  Ensure the verbs/locations chosen, work with the target preposition or vice versa.





drive   walk    fly     sail     ride

run     hop    jump   skip   hobble

crawl   slide  ski    swim   roll


to / towards/ away from

park, shop, beach, Mum



tunnel, maze, woods, gate, door


down / up

hill, mountain, lane, slide, ladder



road, track, river, floor, roof



bridge, fence, gate, box

Teach any unfamiliar prepositions by modelling e.g. difference between across and along the road.


6. Expression: Lay out/Display the sentence shapes in the correct order. Child gives instructions to the SLT to follow by selecting subject, verb, preposition and location (from forced workable choices) and laying them in the correct shape/position. SLT guides child to produce structure by pointing to each shape/line as the child forms the sentence. SLT repeats it back, acts out and praises child for a clear and accurate sentence.

Repeat by changing different elements. Start including non-human subjects e.g. animals, vehicles for both comprehension and expression. E.g. ‘The ball is rolling down the hill’. ‘The horse is racing towards the finish line’.

7. Production: Ask child to lay out/find the sentence shapes in the target structure order. Act out a sentence and ask child to tell you what is happening?

If the sentence contains some information for all 4 key elements (e.g. John driving to park), repeat the sentence back accurately e.g. Yes, John is driving to the park.

If the child omits one of the key elements, explicitly state what is missing. For example, if the child says ‘The man is walking shops’. Say, I heard ‘the man is walking the shops’ pointing at the relevant shapes as you speak.  Indicate the error by saying “You need/don’t forget a ‘yellow where word’ here”, pointing at the yellow line in the semi-circle. Give a forced alternative – is he walking to or away from the shop? Help child reformulate using their chosen preposition.

Repeat with multiple examples. 

7. Reducing shapes: repeat comprehension steps 2-5 and/or expression steps 6-7 with fewer and fewer shapes, but then bring back to check responses.

8. Monitoring: SLT start to make “errors”, get student to spot and correct them

  1. Using shape templates as an aid
  2. Without the templates

9. Consolidation: At the end of each session, review prepositions covered in previous sessions and start to mix up instructions to use a range of subjects, verbs and prepositions and locations in consecutive examples. Make sure that some of these are reversible e.g. Peter is driving towards Lucy. The pipe is rolling away from the bike. The ant is crawling to the baby. Ensure the child demonstrates the subject from the oval moving not the object from the rectangle for comprehension.

10. Generalisation: Watch short action clips together and create a running commentary.  Read, recall and create own version of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. Talk about familiar journeys or directions within school. Create an obstacle course and give/receive instructions. Take photos and describe the action.

Additional Resources