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Past Simple - ESL EFL Teaching Resources

-ed Sounds

ESL EFL Reading, Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 25 Minutes

Here is a great activity for students to practice the -ed sounds of past simple regular verbs. Each student is given a copy of the worksheet. Using the past simple tense, students complete a conversation with verbs from a box. All the verbs are regular verbs that need to be changed into their past tense form. The teacher then goes through the correct answers with the class. Next, the class is split into pairs and the students read the conversation together. Students then look at the rules associated with -ed sounds. Students follow the rules and put the regular verbs from the conversation into their correct category. Then, they read the conversation again. Here they get to practice the correct pronunciation for the -ed sounds.

-ed Sounds.PDF


How was your weekend?

ESL EFL Lesson - Elementary - 50 Minutes

This engaging three-page lesson teaches students how to ask and answer questions about weekend activities using the past simple tense. Students begin by putting words into the correct order to form past simple questions about weekend activities. Students must then match the correct reply to each question. After that, the students focus on how to express interest in a conversation. The students read brief dialogues and then choose the most suitable answer that indicates interest in the conversation. Then, they complete a conversation that shows students how to keep a conversation about the weekend going. Finally, the students break into pairs and create their own past simple conversation about the weekend with the language they have learnt. The conversations are then presented to the class. An answer key is provided. 

How was your weekend.PDF


Gone in 30 Seconds - Board Game

ESL EFL Speaking Activity - Elementary - 30 Minutes

This entertaining board game gives students practice at using the past simple tense. The game teaches students to utilize their knowledge of the past simple to talk about a variety of everyday topics. Students take turns moving their counters along the board. When they land on a square, they have to talk about the topic on the square in the past simple tense for 30 seconds without stopping. If a student can’t think of anything to say, makes a grammar mistake or stops talking before the 30 seconds are up, they have to move back to their previous square. The winner is the first student to reach the finish.

Gone in 30 Seconds.PDF

 Past Simple ESL Teaching Resources

Holiday Romance

ESL EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 30 Minutes

In this fun writing task, students create a story by inventing answers to past simple questions. The language focus is on past simple regular and irregular verbs as well as holiday vocabulary. The students write a story about a holiday romance by inventing answers to questions. Students sit in a circle in groups of five or six. Each student answers the first question on their worksheet by inventing details and writing the answer in the space provided. The student then folds the paper and passes the paper to the person on the right who answers the next question. This continues until all the questions have been completed. When everyone has finished writing, students read their stories and choose the best one for their group. The stories are read aloud to the rest of the class and the class votes for the best story.

Holiday Romance.PDF


In the Past

ESL EFL Speaking Activity - Elementary - 25 Minutes

Here is a challenging and fun card game that helps students to practice past simple sentence formation. Each group of four is given a set of time expression cards and verb cards. The time expression cards are placed face down and the verb cards are dealt out equally between the students. Students then take it in turns to turn over a time expression card and make a true past simple sentence about themselves using one of their verb cards and the time expression. If the student constructs a believable past simple sentence, the student may discard the verb card. If the other players think the sentence can’t be true or if the sentence is grammatically incorrect, they challenge the student, and he or she has to keep the verb card. The aim of the game is to be the first student to get rid of all their verb cards. 

In the Past.PDF


Mark the Jogger

ESL EFL Writing Activity - Elementary - 30 Minutes

In this supplementary worksheet, students read about a typical day of Mark the Jogger. Then, students pretend that yesterday was a typical day for Mark. They write past simple sentences about what he did and didn't do yesterday. Students have to change the verbs from the text into the past tense and use them in their sentences. Students then write a short paragraph about what they did yesterday.

Mark the Jogger.PDF


Past Simple Exercises

ESL EFL Lesson - Elementary - 1 Hour

The following link will take you to a great set of exercises that help students to practice using the past simple tense. There are exercises for regular and irregular past tense verb forms. Students also practice forming affirmative and negative past simple sentences as well as interrogative yes/no questions and Wh- questions.

Past Simple Exercises.PDF

Present to Past - Board Game

ESL EFL Speaking Activity - Elementary - 25 Minutes

This enjoyable board game teaches students how to make past simple sentences with time expressions. In the game, students have to change regular and irregular verbs from the present tense to the past simple tense. When a student lands on a word square, they see a present tense verb, a noun and a time expression. The student then use all the words in the square to make a past simple sentence. Students play the game in groups of three or four. The first student to get to the finish is the winner.

Present to Past.PDF


Pronouncing -ed Endings

ESL EFL Reading, Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 25 Minutes

The following link will take you to an impressive worksheet for teaching -ed sounds of past simple verbs. The students begin by looking at the rules associated with -ed endings. After looking at each rule, students write their own sentences using verbs that have the correct -ed sound. Students then practice reading past simple sentences and after each sentence they write the /t/ /d/ or /id/ ending. Finally, students read a text and try to use the correct pronunciation for -ed endings.

Pronouncing -ed endings.PDF


Where did you go on your last holiday?

ESL EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 20 Minutes

This handy worksheet is ideal for teaching students how to talk about their previous holiday. Students work in pairs and read a past simple conversation based on someone's last holiday. The students change the underlined parts of the dialogue with information about their last holiday. Then, they add follow-up questions to extend the conversation. The students' new dialogues are then presented to the class.

Where did you go on your last holiday.PDF


Excuses Excuses - Board Game

ESL EFL Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 Minutes

Here is an amusing speaking game for pre-intermediate students to practice the past simple tense. In this game, students practice making excuses for arriving late to class. The class is divided into groups of four and each group is given a copy of the board game and a set of excuse cards. When a student lands on a square marked Sorry I’m late, the student picks up an excuse card and changes the sentence in to its past tense form to make an excuse for being late, e.g. Sorry I’m late. I missed the bus. If the sentence is formed correctly, the student stays on the square. If it is incorrect, the student must move back to their previous square. The first student to arrive to class wins. Play continues until most or all of the students have arrived at the class.

Excuses Excuses - Board Game.PDF


Class Story

ESL EFL Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 Minutes

In this amusing class activity, teams work together to make up a story. The class is divided into four teams. The teacher takes three word cards and writes them on the board. Team players then take it in turn to make up a story in the past simple tense using the words on the board. The players can say anything, but they must keep talking until they use one or more of the words. Every word used scores one point, so in any one turn a team can gain between one and three points. When a student uses a verb, it must be in the past simple tense. Once a player has completed their turn, the next team plays and continues the story. The team with the highest score at the end wins.

Class Story.PDF


My Memories

ESL EFL Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 Minutes

In this speaking task, students use the past simple tense to talk about various things they remember. This insightful activity works best with older students and adults. Students work in groups of three or four. Each group is given a set of topic cards. Students take it in turns to pick up a card from the top of the pile. The student, who picks up the card, then talks about the topic on the card using the past simple tense. The rest of the group asks questions to get the person to speak more. Then, the next student takes a card and so on.

My Memories.PDF


Sentence Building Race

ESL EFL Matching Activity - Pre-intermediate - 20 Minutes

In this sentence-building activity, students race to make past simple affirmative and negative complex sentences. The students are split into pairs and given a set of cards. Each card contains a clause. Students race to make ten complex past simple sentences by joining three cards together. Students join the second clause to the first clause using the conjunction ‘and’ and the third clause using ‘but’. The third clause is negative. Students must write ‘and’ and ‘but’ in the spaces provided and lay the cards out on the table in the correct order. The first pair of students to complete all of the sentences correctly wins.

Sentence Building Race.PDF


Story Telling

ESL EFL Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 Minutes

This creative speaking exercise gives the class practice at using the past simple tense to tell stories. This activity is similar to a chain game. In small groups, students make up stories using various introductory phrases. One student begins by saying an introductory phrase. Then, each member of the group adds to the story by saying a sentence in the past simple tense. When the story hits a dead end or gets boring, the next student starts over with a new introductory phrase and so on.

Story Telling.PDF


Tell us a story

ESL EFL Writing Activity - Pre-intermediate - 1 Hour

This effective writing activity is designed to get your students using the past simple tense. In pairs, students invent a story with the help of a worksheet. The worksheet provides a framework for their story by giving them questions to answer. Students discuss each question in turn and write their ideas down. When they have made notes for all of the questions, students write their story in pairs. The students are also encouraged to use linking words (and, because, but, so, then) when writing their stories.

Tell us a story.PDF


Related Teaching Resources: Irregular Verbs  /  Past Simple Questions 

Give us a +1 if you like this page


+2 #9 Admin 2015-03-20 15:19
Hi Ju, Yes. These activities will certainly make your first few weeks of teaching a lot easier and hopefully give you inspiration! Good luck with your new career.
+3 #8 Ju 2015-03-20 02:27
Thanks a lot for this! I'm new to ESL teaching and this whole page of activities is really helping me out in my first few weeks of classes. The board games work especially well. Great job!
+4 #7 Paula 2015-03-19 03:07
Thank you so much for all the worksheets you share!
I love them as they are very didactic and students have fun while doing them!
I always do warm up or close down activities with them :)
+3 #6 Admin 2015-03-17 13:43
Thanks everyone. It's messages like yours that give me the power to keep going.
+4 #5 Christine 2015-03-12 00:02
LovelY!! Cannot wait to use these games with my students. Thank you!
+4 #4 sm 2015-03-07 02:25
Thanks a lot
+4 #3 Paulina 2015-03-04 14:17
This helped me a lot. Thank you!
+4 #2 Admin 2015-03-02 07:25
Thanks Marcia. I'm glad you like the resources.
+4 #1 Marcia Nunes 2015-02-27 13:12
Thank you so much for such an organized and well done page. As a teacher, I really appreciate it when I have such nice exercises for my students.


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