There are so many tasks to do and games to play with students to practice Past Simple, but I am constantly looking for something new to impress my students. Here is my list of activities that I recently tried and that my adult learners really liked.
Activity 1 -- Newspaper headlines
Divide students in pairs. Give them pictures of ‘news’. Choose funny pictures or find pictures according to the topics you’ve studied.
Students should make up headlines to them. To expand the task, ask to write a few sentences about these headlines. Students should include information about what happened, where the event took place, etc. Alternatively, students can pass their headlines to the next pair and see if they can expand them.
Activity 2 -- Excuses
The aim of the game is to male make excuses for arriving to class late. Prepare a set of cards with phrases or just verbs in Infinitive forms. Take any board for boardgames you want (Snake or ladders or just a board with empty squares). The class is divided into groups of four and each group is given a copy of the game board and a set of excuse cards. When a student moves a marker, he/she picks up an excuse card and makes a sentence in past simple, for example, ‘Sorry I’m late. I overslept’. 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.
Activity 3 -- Video tasks for Simple Past
The obvious way of using a video for past tenses is describing what happened. Give students a list of verbs, play the video and ask them to work in pairs and retell the plot of the video.
As most of my students are getting ready for holidays, we revised holiday vocabulary and discussed the video of how Mr Bean packed his holiday suitcase:
Here is the list of phrases I gave to my students: pack, change, take, take out, put away, count, choose, break, cut.
Alternatively, you might give students pairs of actions and ask them to predict the order, then watch and check.
Activity 4 -- Small Talk Questions
Adults need a constant practice of making small talks. Therefore, I use this activity quite often to revise Past Simple and to increase students’ confidence while talking to anyone.
Choose several questions from the list below. Students should ask the questions grammatically correct, they should also listen to their partners’ responses and ask follow-up questions.
- ____ (have) a good weekend?
- How ____ (be) your weekend?
- Where ____ (buy) this ….?
- What time ____ (finish) work last night?
- When ____ (start) your present job?
- Where ____ (go) on your last holiday?
- ____ (do) the last homework?
- ____(hear) the news about…?
- ____ (see) the game/ match between… and … at the weekend/ last night/ yesterday/ on Saturday?
- ____ (go) to the meeting about… yesterday/ on Monday?
In a few weeks, I give my students not the questions but situations and ask to make small talks for 2 minutes.
- a small talk with a neighbour in a lift;
- a small talk with a colleague in a queue in a supermarket;
- a small talk with sister-in-law (who you don’t know well) at the wedding;
- a small talk with a hairdresser.
Activity 5 -- Tic Tac Toe
Prepare a Tic Tac Toe grid. Write the verbs you want your students to practice into the squares. When a student chooses a square, he/ she must whether say the past form of it or make a sentence with it. Alternatively, you can mark what you want your students to do to get their X or O on that square (make affirmative, negative sentences or questions).
Activity 6 -- Online quizzes
Here is one more online game. You can send the link to your students as homework.
What activities on Past Simple do your students like? Share your ideas in comments below.