25 Fun Ways to Teach and Learn Them
Let’s face it, most of us don’t need to know what “future continuous perfect” means in our everyday lives. But we do need to use it correctly. In most cases, kids pick up proper verb tenses naturally as they go along. But there are some advantages to understanding and being able to name tenses, especially when it comes to irregular verbs or learning a new language. These verb tenses activities provide lots of interesting ways to tackle the topic.
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1. Build verb “tents”
Set up “verb tents” to learn about verb tense. This smart play on words turns playtime fun into a learning activity.
Learn more: Our Fun Homeschool
2. Craft verb tense rainbows
Knowing proper tenses makes the world a more colorful place! Kids add sentences for the past, present, and future tense of any verb they choose.
Learn more: Buggy for Second Grade
3. Conjugate as you move
As you go from one place to another (out to recess, down the hall to lunch), have students pick different movements to complete. Use those in sentences for practice: “We are going to march. We are marching. We marched to the playground.”
Learn more: Activity Tailor
4. Sort sticky notes by ending or helping verb
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. Identify incorrect usage too
Sometimes it can be just as helpful to see what’s incorrect as what’s correct. Try this sorting activity, or allow kids to come up with their own examples.
Learn more: The First Grade Roundup
6. Match up LEGO bricks
What kid doesn’t love an excuse to play with LEGO? Use a marker to write irregular verbs and their corresponding past or future tenses on individual bricks. Then kids match them up for practice. Want other educational uses for LEGO bricks? We’ve got them!
Learn more: The OT Toolbox
7. Link sentences together with helping verbs
This is a terrific visual to show kids how helping verbs actually link sentences together. Buy a set of strips at the link, or have kids make their own.
Learn more: Ashleigh’s Education Journey—Linking Verb Chains
8. 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
9. Roll helping verb cubes
Get some helping-verb practice by rolling these DIY cubes. Students roll the cubes, then write sentences with the correct verb tenses shown. Create your own cubes, or buy a printable set at the link below.
Learn more: Ashleigh’s Education Journey—Helping Verb Cubes
10. Use timelines to explain 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
11. Line up for human sentences
Pass out the free printable cards and have kids line up to form a present-tense sentence. Then change the tense, and see which student has the correct spelling of the word.
Learn more: Longwing Learning on TpT
12. 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
13. Play Zip, Zap, Zop
This fast-paced game is a fun way to practice tenses! Kids stand in a circle and take turns saying the past, present, and future tenses of verbs as they’re called out. Miss one? You’re out, and the game continues.
Learn more: Teaching With Class
14. Recognize the end sounds of past tense verbs
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
15. Tap lights to indicate tense
Label tap lights with arrows indicating past, present, and future. Then, pull verb cards from a bag and have kids tap to turn on the correct tense light.
Learn more: Speech Time Fun
16. Watch a verb tenses video
This video will get your students up and moving! As each word (dance, jumped, wiggle) appears on the screen, they identify the tense or conjugate as prompted. After a few watches, they can move along with the music too.
17. 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 the play starts over. Get free printable cards to use for this game at the link.
Learn more: Deceptively Educational
18. Try some verb flash cards
Flash cards aren’t just for numbers! This set helps kids learn irregular verbs, regular past tense, and active and passive verbs.
Learn more: Junior Learning Verb Flashcards on Amazon
19. Tell a story from a picture
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—What Did They Do?
20. Spin and write to practice perfect tenses
Using a pencil and paper clip 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
21. 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
22. Make a recycled verb shaker
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
23. Color in the tenses
We’ll take any reason to break out the crayons! Grab this free printable at the link.
Learn more: Terrific Times in Third on TPT
24. 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
25. 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—Tense Battleship