Three Ring Grammar Circus: Past, Present, and Future
This activity was adapted from ESL Teacher Alison Hoyer.
Purpose: To give beginning level learners a concrete understanding of different tenses
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Materials Needed: a class set of cards with three different verbs written on them (one verb per card)
- Write three verbs on the board. The verbs should be actions that learners can do in the classroom (stand, jump, walk, speak, dance, etc.).
- Pass out cards that have the verbs written on them (one verb per card). Each leaner should get one card.
- Explain that when you point to the verb and say it out loud, all of the learners with a matching card should do the action.
- Point to a verb and say it out loud. Check that all of the learners whose card matches the verb are standing up and doing the action.
- Gesture to different learners and ask “What is ___ doing?” Prompt the class to respond using full sentences with the present progressive form of the verb, for example, “S/he is walking.”
- Have the learners sit down, and repeat steps 4 and 5 with the remaining two verbs.
- Go back to the first verb. Gesture to different learners and ask, “What did ___ do?” Prompt the class to respond using full sentences such as “S/he walked.” Repeat this for the remaining two verbs.
- Have the learners trade cards with a neighbor. Ask the learners with the first verb to hold up their cards but remain seated.
- Ask the class who will do the action, using the future tense. For example, “What will ___ do?” Prompt the class to answer using full sentences such as “S/he will walk.” Repeat for the remaining two verbs.
- Collect the verb cards from the learners. Hold them up one at a time, and prompt the learners to say a sentence using either present continuous, past, or future.
Extension: After the activity is finished, have the learners write present continuous, past tense, and future sentences for each of the verbs and then check their work with a partner.