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Past Simple - ESL/EFL Teaching Activities

-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 worksheet. Using the past simple tense, students complete a conversation with verbs from a box. All the verbs are, in fact, regular past simple verbs. 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 - 45 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, students look at expressions of interest. 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 weekend activities 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 also 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 around the board. When they land on a square, they have to talk about a topic in the past simple tense for 30 seconds without stopping. If a student stops speaking before the 30 seconds have finished, they have to move back to their previous square. The winner is the first student to reach the end.

Gone in 30 Seconds.PDF

 

Holiday Romance

ESL/EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 30 Minutes

For this writing task, students have to create a story by inventing answers to questions. The activity teaches students how to use past simple regular and irregular verbs as well as teaching them about holiday and travel vocabulary. The students write a story about a holiday romance by imagining answers to some questions. Students work in groups of five or six, and they sit together in a circle. 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 and so on. When everyone has finished writing, students choose the best story from their group. The stories are read aloud to the rest of the class and the class then votes for the best story.Students working in class

Holiday Romance.PDF

 

Irregular Connect 4

ESL/EFL Writing and Spelling Activity - Elementary - 15 Minutes

In this noteworthy teaching activity, students play a game of connect four by writing irregular verbs in their past tense form. The class is divided into pairs and each pair is given a copy of the worksheet. Students take it in turns to choose an irregular verb from the chart. Under the word, they write the past simple form of the irregular verb. The aim of the activity is to get four squares in a row, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, while at the same time trying to stop their partner from getting four in a row. When a student gets four squares in a row, the teacher checks their answers. If all the words are spelt correctly, they win 1 point. If any of their answers are incorrect, the point is awarded to the other student.

Irregular Connect 4.PDF

 

Irregular Verb Match

ESL/EFL Matching and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 30 Minutes

Here is a fun matching game to help students memorize irregular past tense verbs. The class is divided into pairs and each pair is given a set of past and present tense verb cards. The students shuffle the cards and spread them out face down on the table in two sets. Students then take it in turns to turn one card over from each set. The aim of the game is to find matching pairs of past and present tense irregular verbs. If a player turns over two cards which have the past and present form of the same verb on them, the player keeps the cards and scores a point. The player can then score an extra point by making a past simple sentence with the irregular verb. The player with the highest score at the end is the winner.

Irregular Verb Match.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

 

Past Tense Talk

ESL/EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 40 Minutes

There are four parts to this well-designed teaching activity. In the first part, students work together in small groups to complete a past tense irregular verb pelmanism. Next, the students are given a worksheet and asked to answer statements using the past tense irregular verbs from the first task. The students then group together again, talk about their answers and ask each other follow-up questions. Finally, students tell the class about any interesting things they found out about their partners. 

Past Tense Talk.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 3 or 4. 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

The Past

ESL/EFL Speaking Activity - Elementary - 30 Minutes

For this teaching activity, students have to guess the things their classmates did at specific times in the past. Students use past simple yes/no questions to find out the information. Students are grouped together in threes. Each group is provided with a set of verb cards, which are divided out equally. Each student thinks of times in the past when he or she did the actions marked on their cards. The students write the simple past form of the verb on each card. When they have done that, they write a time expression showing when the event happened. Afterwards, students take it in turns to guess what their group members did according to the verb and time marked on the cards.

The Past.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

 

Your Last Holiday

ESL/EFL Writing and Speaking Activity - Elementary - 30 Minutes

Students find out about their classmate's previous holiday in this delightful teaching activity. Students start by completing information on a worksheet about their last holiday. Then, the students ask each other past simple questions and complete the information about their partner's holiday on their worksheet. When all the pairs have finished, students tell the class about their partner's last holiday.

Your Last Holiday.PDF

 

Excuses Excuses - Board Game

ESL/EFL Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 Minutes

Here is an fun speaking game for pre-intermediate students to practice the past simple tense. In this game, students practice making excuses for arriving to class late. 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 thought today was Sunday. 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 game continues until most or all 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 1 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

 

Make a Sentence

ESL/EFL Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 Minutes

Here is a fun activity for teaching past simple irregular verbs. In this activity, students change irregular verbs into the past simple form and then make past simple sentences using the verbs. The class is divided into groups of 3 or 4. Each group is handed a set of verb cards. Students take it in turns to pick up a card. They look at the base form of the irregular verb and then make up a sentence using the verb in the past simple tense. The other group members decide whether they will accept the sentence or not. If they do, the student’s name is written on the card in the space provided. The card is then placed in a separate pile. When the students have finished, the name cards are counted. The student with the highest number of name cards wins.

Make a Sentence.PDF

 

My Memories

ESL/EFL Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 Minutes

For this speaking task, students have to use the past simple tense to talk about various things they remember. This insightful activity works best with older students or adults. Students work in groups of 3 or 4. 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

 

Story Telling

ESL/EFL Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 30 Minutes

This creative speaking exercise gives the class practice at using the past simple to tell a story. 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 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

 

Teaching resources for past simple questions can be found here:

Past Simple Questions

 
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Comments  

0 #16 Michael 2014-08-19 04:40
:-) ;-) Thank you very much for sharing your brilliant ideas.
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0 #15 fateme 2014-08-17 19:37
I'm really grateful for these fantastic and brilliant ideas and activities. Thanks a lot. :-)
These are fantastic and brilliant ideas and activities. :-)
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0 #14 Lily 2014-07-15 07:02
Thank you!!!! That's great!! These activities are really helpful!! :lol: :lol:
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0 #13 Oleg 2014-06-27 16:13
You're "saint"! That's great!! Thanks!!!!
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0 #12 Cindy 2014-06-26 15:56
Definitely life saver material
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+2 #11 Tri Nguyen 2014-06-12 06:26
Thanks for all the hard work. These activities are really interesting and useful.
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+2 #10 María Elena 2014-06-06 03:33
Thanks for all the great material.
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+2 #9 vinit shah 2014-06-01 05:21
Thank you so much. I have an IELTS exam coming up in two days. This is going to help me. Thank you again.
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+3 #8 Endy 2014-05-29 03:07
I love all of your ideas. Thanks
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+2 #7 mer 2014-05-28 04:54
Fantastic ideas. Thanks a lot.
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