Who Did What?

Purpose:  to practice the past tense in yes/no questions and affirmative and negative statements

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials:  paper and chalkboard or whiteboard

Preparation:  Plan to review past tense forms with students before initiating the activity.  Pre-teach any vocabulary that might be unfamiliar, but try as much as possible to use vocabulary the students already know.  On a sheet of paper, make two columns.  In the left column, write the names of seven people.  In the right column, write seven actions in the past tense (e.g., wrote a letter to the teacher, played soccer with friends, studied English all weekend).  Then draw lines connecting each of the seven people to one of the seven actions.  The result will be seven complete sentences that are grammatical and make sense.  Try to avoid using his and her to make the activity more challenging.  These seven matches are the “correct” answers.

Procedure:

  1. Write the two columns (people and actions) on the board.  Do not draw the lines connecting the two parts.
  2. Explain to the students that they have to ask yes/no questions to guess which person did which action.  Be prepared to model this a few times, but use extra names and actions and erase them when you’re finished.
  3. Divide the class into two or three groups that will compete to solve the mystery.  In turn, have a student from each group ask you questions, such as Did Maria write a letter to the teacher? or Did Hussein watch television last night?  If the answer is yes, then another student in the same group can ask the next question.  If the answer is no, the turn passes to a student in another group.  When a group guesses the statement, matching the correct person with the correct action, the group receives a point.  Because there are seven sentences, a tie is impossible.

Variations:

  • Have the students work in groups of three.  Each student creates an original list, in two copies: one with the lines drawn in (i.e. the answers), another for the other two students who will now ask the questions and solve the mystery of who did what.
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