ESL Verb Games
Age/Level: Any Time: 15 minutes Players: Individual Preparation: A ball
Aim: To review verb forms
This fun activity is an excellent way to revise or practice verb forms.
Sit the students in a circle.
Take a place in the circle as well.
Start the game by throwing a ball to a student. As you throw the ball, say a verb in the present tense.
The student who catches the ball must say the past or past participle of the verb, depending on the level of your students.
You then shout out a new verb as the student passes the ball to another student and so on.
If a student fails to say the correct verb form, ask the student to throw the ball again and the next student corrects the mistake.
If you want to make the game harder, you could ask the students to say a sentence using the verb in a particular tense.
Age/Level: Any Time: 20 minutes Players: Individual Preparation: None
Aim: To practice verb forms
This is a useful ESL word game for practicing verb forms. It works well as a revision game at the start of class.
Two students (A and B) sit facing each other in front of the class. You act as an umpire.
To start the game, Student A thinks of an irregular verb and serves by saying the past participle of the verb.
If Student A gets the past participle wrong, then Student B gets a point. At this point, you should tell everyone the correct verb form and write it up on the board.
It is now Student B's turn to respond to the serve and give the past simple form of the same verb. If Student B is right, Student A gives the infinitive of the same verb.
If Student B is wrong, Student A wins a point. You then give the correct verb form and write it up on the board. Following that, Student A gives the infinitive.
Now Student B serves, choosing a new irregular verb he or she knows. The serve is always the past participle of the verb.
Award a point to the other student when someone makes a mistake, or if they are too slow in responding.
The first student to get five points is the winner.
Repeat the process with a new pair of students.
This game can be played with adjectives, comparatives and superlatives, and also with countries, nationalities and languages.
The Verb Tree
Age/Level: Any Time: 25 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: Post-it note paper or pieces of paper cut into the shapes of leaves and some tape
Aim: To practice verbs and create sentences using the verbs
Here is an imaginative verb game to practice pronunciation and writing skills.
Draw a large tree on the board with many branches. Ask the students what is missing from the tree and elicit the word ‘leaves’.
Tell the students that they are going to provide leaves for the tree.
Give each student a piece of post-it note paper or piece of paper cut into the shape of a leaf.
Divide the students into two teams (A and B).
Ask each student to think of a verb in English and write it on the paper. Explain that each student in the team should write a different verb, so they will need to communicate which verb they want to write before they write it on the paper. You could also ask the students to choose verbs from a list if there are specific verbs you want them to practice.
When they have finished writing, invite a student from Team A to come up to the board with their leaf.
Ask the student what verb they have chosen and ask them to say it loudly with the correct pronunciation. They then stick the verb on the tree.
Team B then has one minute to make a meaningful sentence with the verb and write it on the board.
If they are able to do this, the team wins one point.
Then a student from Team B comes up to the board with their leaf and Team A tries to make a sentence and so on.
This continues until all the verbs are on the tree.
The team with the most points wins the game.
As an extension, ask students to work in pairs and use some of the sentences on the board to create a story. You can set the number of sentences to be included and award a prize for the best story.
This game can be used to practice or revise a variety of language and vocabulary. You could have an adjective tree, a sports tree, a food tree, etc. You could also choose a theme for the tree such as Christmas or Halloween. The procedure is the same.
Things we do
Age/Level: Elementary and above Time: 20 minutes Players: Teams of 3 to 4 Preparation: A list of regular and irregular verbs
Aim: To write down verbs related to a topic
This is a great ESL game for teaching or reviewing regular and irregular verbs.
Start by reviewing a list of regular and irregular verbs with the class.
Next, divide the class into teams of three or four.
Write a 'Things we do' topic on the board, e.g. things we do with our brains.
Tell the students that they have two minutes to write down as many verbs as they can (from the list they just reviewed) that relate to the topic on the board.
In their teams, the students start writing down the verbs they remember, e.g. consider, dream, imagine, forgive, guess, etc.
When the two minutes are up, check each team's answers.
Teams receive one point for each appropriate verb.
Then, write another 'Things we do' topic on the board and so on.
The team with the highest number of points at the end of the game wins.
This game can also be used to review nouns, adjectives, etc.
Age/Level: Elementary and above Time: 25 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: None
Aim: To use a specific verb correctly in a sentence
This verb game is similar to 'Connect 4'. The game is quite strategic and helps the students practice using verbs in a variety a tenses to make sentences and questions.
Split the class into two teams. Give each student in both teams a number.
Draw an 8 x 8 grid on the board and assign the teams with an O or X symbol.
Write a different verb in each square and write the verbs in a mixture of tenses.
Have the teams play a quick game of rock-paper-scissors to see which team will play first.
Choose a player number. The player with that number chooses a verb from the grid.
That player then has to use the verb correctly in a sentence. The sentence must be in the same tense as the verb in the grid.
If the student makes an appropriate sentence, the team wins the square.
An O or X symbol is then placed in the square, and the next team plays. When the next team plays, the same player number is used.
The aim of the game is to get four in a row (the same as Connect 4).
For higher-level students, add a question mark next to some of the verbs. This means the students have to make a question using the verb.
Age/Level: Any Time: 20 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: A list of verbs
Aim: To guess a verb and then write down the three forms
This is a great ESL game for practicing verb forms. It is also a lot of fun for students to play.
Before you begin, have a list of verbs ready. The verbs you use should vary depending on the ability of your students.
Divide the students into two teams (A and B).
Write the teams on the board and draw three columns under each team. Label the columns: Base, Past, and Past participle.
Have the teams choose one player each. The players from both teams come to the front of the class.
Give each player a different verb.
The two players have to act out their verb without speaking.
The teams try to guess what verb their player is miming.
The student, who guesses the verb correctly for their team, comes to the front of the class, and writes down the three forms of the verb in the columns.
Once the student has written the three forms, a new player comes up and acts out a new verb and so on.
The two teams are playing continuously, so when a team member guesses the correct verb. The other team keeps playing.
At the end of the game, give a point for every correctly spelled and formed verb.
The team with the highest number of points at the end is the winner.