Our Spotlight lesson this week was our Simple Past grammar lesson. When it comes to learning the simple past, students rejoice at the lack of subject-verb conjugation. Unlike the simple present, where students must add an -s to the end of third person singular subjects, the simple past has only one form for all subjects. There’s more good news when English language learners realize they must only add -ed to the end of the base verb to form the simple past for regular verbs.
However, irregular verbs can pose a problem for learners. How do they memorize all the various endings and changes that irregular past tense verbs take? Repetition is key, and if teachers can make it fun, students are more likely to want to practice! I thought I’d share three of my favorite activities along with a free, printable set of cards for irregular verb practice. For a list of irregular verbs with the base verb and simple past forms, go to the end of this post.
Note: You could get students to add other irregular verbs that they have learned on the blank cards. You can also use the base verb cards for all sorts of grammar targets, including the past participle form, the future, the present progressive, modals, gerunds & infinitives, etc.
Print out one set of Verb Cards (base form) and one set of Simple Past Verb Cards per group of 4 or more students. Mix up the cards and lay them out facedown in a grid. Students take turns flipping over two cards. They must match up the base verb with the simple past form. If they find the matching pair, they can keep it and go again. If not, they flip them back over and another student takes a turn. At the end, the student with the most pairs wins!
2. GO FISH
Print out one set of Verb Cards (base form) and one set of Simple Past Verb Cards per group of 4–6 students. Deal out five cards to each student. The first player can ask another, “Do you have _____?” using the base verb or simple past verb that would match one of the cards in his or her hand. If the other student has the card, he or she must hand it over and the first student can go again. If the student doesn’t have that card, he or she says “Go fish!” The first student must then take a card from the deck, and it’s the next student’s turn. The object is to collect matching base/past verb pairs and get rid of all the cards in the player’s hand. At the end, the student with the most pairs wins!
Print out one set of Verb Cards (base form) and one set of Simple Past Verb Cards. Hand out enough cards so there is a matching base verb/past verb pair for the number of students (e.g., if you have 20 students in the class, print out the first 10 base verb cards and the first 10 past verb cards). Students must find their match by asking “Do you have ______?” using the base verb or simple past verb that would match the card he or she is holding. When students have found their match, they can sit down. When everyone has found their match, you may choose to repeat the activity with a different set of verb cards.
Irregular Verb List
Here is a handy list of common irregular verbs that you could print out for students’ reference.
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