Engaging Activities for Practicing Verb Tenses to Initiate Active Learning

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After becoming familiar with the past, present and future verb tenses, kids will practice them with past and present tense Go Fish, verb stories, charades and past, present and future posters.

Same Verb, Different Tenses

Before engaging in these games and activities, it’s important for students to have a strong grasp of the verb tenses. Thus, help students understand the following:

Verbs are an important part of a sentence. Yet, each verb has a different tense. There are many tenses but the main ones are past, present and future. The past tense of a verb tells of events that happened yesterday, five seconds ago or ten years ago. Often times, a past tense verb is signaled by the ending -ed. Yet, some past tense verbs have irregular forms like threw, wrote and ate. After I forgot my homework, I ran back to school.

The present tense is happening right now. There is the simple present: I walk to the bus stop. There is also the present participle: I am walking to the bus stop.

The future can happen in one second, tomorrow, or in five years. The future is signaled with the word “will.” I will go to the park tomorrow.

Before going onto games and activities, make sure students are familiar with common verbs in the present, past and future.

Verb Charades

Familiarize kids with verbs with a fun round of charades. Simply write down verbs or verb phrases on pieces of paper and put them into a bag. Students can pick a paper and act out the verb. Of course, they can’t talk but they can use action to describe their verb. Some fun verbs to include are: dance, tremble, skip, hop, jump rope, eat, sneeze and fall.

Past and Present “Go Fish”

“Go Fish” is a simple game that is easy to adapt. To play this game, simply cut out fishes on white construction paper. Then, make matches consisting of the past and present forms of a word. Make sure to include plenty of irregular verbs. Some good pairs to include are: go/went, throw/threw, walk/walked, write/wrote, think/thought, sit/sat, blow/blew, sell/sold, talk/talked, and eat/ate. Each pair should be written in the same color of ink. In this way, students will know when they have a pair. Finally, laminate the cards for extended use.

This game is best played in a small group. Distribute half the cards evenly to students. The other half should be fanned out in a circle or “fishing pond.” Next, ask students to look at their cards. If they have the word run, they need to look for the word similar to run in the present tense. Then, they need to ask one person for the match. For instance, “Steve, do you have the word ran?” If Steve has the match, he will hand it to the other player. If he does not, he will say, “Go Fish.”

The game continues until all the cards in the middle are gone.

Tell me a Verb Story

On a big piece of butcher paper or on a SMART Board, write out a funny story but leave out most of the verbs. Indicate the missing verb with a line. Without revealing the story, ask each student to come up with a verb in the past tense. Then, ask them to say their verb and fill in the story. Afterwards, read the story to the class and see if the story makes sense. Here’s an example:

The kids in Room 2B were very excited.

They ______ tickets to see any movie they wanted.

The students ______ and _______.

They ________ to go see a scary movie.

At the theater, some students _______ popcorn.

Others _______ candy.

It _____a great day!

After you are done with the silly story, ask students to fill in the blanks with verbs that make sense. This activity is easier if students have a list of verbs to help them make a choice.

Past, Present and Future Posters

Provide each student with a large piece of construction paper. Next, have them fold the paper into three different sections. After that, tell kids to pick a verb and write it in the past, present and future tense. Each verb should be written in a different section. Make sure to check the students' choices to make sure they have the correct form of the word.

The next step is to write a sentence in each section using the different verb tenses. For instance: Yesterday, I walked the dog to the park. My dog and I are walking to the mailbox. Tomorrow, I will walk with my friends at the track.

The third step is to illustrate each sentence.

Most verbs are active. This is why they are best taught through active learning! Use these activities to practice verb tenses and revisit them throughout the year. After students master past, present and future, the teacher can move onto ideas like the past perfect tense.