Fun Ways to Teach Verb Tenses


If you teach grammar, it is likely that you sometimes have encountered yawns, faraway gazes and a bored countenance or two. Teaching grammar concepts, such as verb tenses, can be a challenge, but you can overcome those hurdles by using creative instructional methods. These methods increase student participation and make your lessons more effective -- and the classes more interesting for your students.

Say the Tense

  • You will need a ball for this grammar game. Ask students to stand in a circle. Shout a verb and tell students that the one who catches the ball must give the past tense. If the student who catches the ball is right, he stays in the circle. Otherwise, he sits down. Continue tossing the ball and shouting out verbs until only one student remains standing; give a prize to the winner. The physical movements in the game keep students active and alert, making the lesson more interesting.

Celebrity Grammar

  • Whether it's about Abraham Lincoln, George Clooney or Demi Moore, a profile of a famous person offers one of the best ways to teach past and past perfect verb tenses. Have each student print out information on a favorite person from the Internet, then write a short biography, in the student's own words, highlighting that person's milestones and achievements. Have students read their biographies aloud and identify some of the past and past perfect verb tenses they used. To boost class interest, show images of the celebrities as students read their biographies.

Let the Characters Teach

  • Stories provide a good opportunity to teach verb tenses. Sit with your students and come up with characters, either animals or people. Then as a class, build stories around these characters. For example, you could start a story about a girl named Sallie and let your students take turns continuing the tale, using action verbs in the present tense. You also can use this concept with puppets.

Listen and Say

  • Record news stories, interviews or advertisements on TV or radio, using a recording device or cell phone. Select segments that are short, keeping in mind your students' attention span. Play the segments in class, asking students to listen to the audio carefully and make notes about the verb tenses used. Have students discuss their findings and talk about why those verb tenses were used.


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