Three Ring Grammar Circus: Past, Present, and Future

clipart image of red and white striped circus tent

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)

Procedure:

  1. Write three verbs on the board. The verbs should be actions that learners can do in the classroom (stand, jump, walk, speak, dance, etc.).
  2. Pass out cards that have the verbs written on them (one verb per card). Each leaner should get one card.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”
  6. Have the learners sit down, and repeat steps 4 and 5 with the remaining two verbs.
  7. 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.
  8. Have the learners trade cards with a neighbor. Ask the learners with the first verb to hold up their cards but remain seated.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

 

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