15 Clever Ideas and Activities for Teaching Verb Tenses


You probably don’t remember much about learning verb tenses except some confusing concepts like “future continuous perfect.” Most children simply pick up verb tenses as they learn their native language, however, there are some skills students can use assistance with, like irregular verbs. Verb tenses can also become important as students begin to learn new languages, so it’s worth educating them on the basics while they are still young. Consider these activities and ideas to teach verb tenses to your students.

1. Use timelines to explain verb tenses.

Verb Tenses

Verb tenses and timelines are a perfect match! Timelines help kids visualize the concept, especially when you get to the more complicated tenses.

Learn more: Upper Elementary Snapshots

2. Travel in time with printable armbands.

Fire up your imagination and take trips to the past, present, and future with these cute (and free) printable armbands. They’ll really help kids relate tenses to time.

Learn more: Lindy Loves to Teach

3. Make simple tense mini-books.

Give your students a booklet they can refer to as they practice verb tenses. Visit the link to get free, printable, simple verb tense mini-books to use with your class.

Learn more: Teacher Thrive


4. Sort sticky notes by ending or helping verb.

Verb Tenses

Talking about verb tense endings or helping verbs? A simple sticky note sort is an easy way to give them hands-on practice.

Learn more: Smitten With First

5. Color in the tenses.

Verb Tenses

We’ll take any reason to break out the crayons! Grab this free printable at the link.

Learn more: Terrific Times in Third/TPT

6. Pop balloons for sorting practice.

Write out verbs in different tenses, then roll them up and put them in balloons. Kids pop them (bang!), then attach them to the appropriate tense charts posted around the room.

Learn more: Create, Teach, and Share

7. Recognize the end sounds of past tense verbs.

Verb Tenses

The sounds that verb endings make can get tricky. Is it pronounced “Stop-ed” or “Stopt”? This activity helps clear up those challenges.

Learn more: The Balanced Literacy Diet

8. Play Slap It! with verb tenses.

Flip over a verb from the “present” pile, then start flipping cards from the “past” pile. When the correct match appears, SLAP IT! The winner keeps the cards and play starts over. Get free printable cards to use for this game at the link.

Learn more: Deceptively Educational

9. Tell a story from a picture.

Verb Tenses

Have kids study a picture and tell a story about what they see. Set the story in the past, present, or future. Get a free printable to get you started at the link.

Learn more: iSL Collective

10. Spin and write to practice perfect tenses.

Using a pencil and paperclip for a spinner, students flip a verb card, spin to see which tense they’ll use, and write out a sentence. Download the free printable at the link.

Learn more: The Curriculum Corner

11. Sing the Helping Verbs song.

Helping verbs are part of verb tenses, and this catchy song helps kids learn them. After you sing it, challenge kids to write their own song !

Learn more: I Teach For Kids

12. Solve a verb tenses crossword puzzle.

Conjugate the verbs to fill in the crossword puzzle correctly. There are two free puzzles to print at the link.

Learn more: ESL World

13. Make a recycled verb shaker.

Verb Tenses

This is a homemade version of an “I Spy” game. Bury verb cards in a plastic bottle filled with colored rice, then have students find verbs and use them in sentences or provide the different tenses.

Learn more: Crazy Speech World

14. Display verb tenses in a simple chart.

We often don’t realize how much it helps to know the names of the different tenses until we’re studying a new language and trying to conjugate its verbs. A chart like this one for English verbs can be very helpful in learning the concept.

Learn more: English Grammar Here

15. Play verb tenses Battleship.

The beauty of this game is that you can play it over and over again using different tenses! Players plant their “ships” on the board. Each player takes turns saying a sentence using the chosen tense: “You will listen to music tomorrow.” The other player indicates hit or miss, just as in traditional Battleship.

Learn more: iSL Collective

Love this? Try these 19 Parts of Speech Activities That Will Up Your Grammar Game.

Ready to get a little rebellious? Here are 8 Old School Grammar Rules That Teachers Need to Ditch .


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