Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

Teaching Present & Past Tense Verbs to First Graders
By:Stacy Zeiger

First graders must learn about verb tenses in order to begin developing reading comprehension and critical language skills. Lessons about past and present verbs should consist of visual and interactive activities. Not only do first graders need to constantly see how past and present verbs are spelled, they need experience using them in conversation.

Adding -ED
Explain to students that many present tense verbs become past tense verbs by adding –ed to the end. Practice adding –ed to the end of present tense verbs in multiple ways. Write the present tense verb on the board and allow students to come up and write in the –ed. Make up flashcards containing verbs and have students change the verbs to the past tense by pairing them up with other flashcards that contain the –ed ending. Include examples of verbs that do not use –ed with the past tense, such as “eat” or “run,” and explain to students that some words do not follow the –ed rule.

Display posters around the room that contain columns for present tense and past tense verbs. Make sure each present tense verb contains its past tense equivalent right next to it. These posters will serve as a reference point for students and allow them to repeatedly view the proper way to spell the verbs. Add pictures related to the verbs to help students make additional connection. Have students help make the posters or draw pictures on them to make them more noticeable in the classroom.

Describing Activities
Lead students through a series of activities that require them to use past and present verbs. Begin each day with a morning letter where you describe what the class did the day before and what students are going to do throughout the day. End the day with a similar letter that recaps the day. While reading the letter, point out the tense of the verbs. For example, “I used the word ‘walked’ because we did that yesterday, which is in the past.” When reading a story, give students an opportunity to practice using past and present tense verbs by asking questions such as “what is the main character doing?” or “where did the main character go?”

Online Games
If your classroom has computers for student use, direct students to online games that allow them to practice using past and present tense verbs. FunBrain's "2Bee or Nottoobee" has students complete a sentence by choosing the correct verb tense. Arcademic Skill Builder's "Verb Viper" has students choose the correct form of the verb to go with a noun. The BBC's "Starship" asks students to fill a rocket ship with fuel by choosing the correct past tense spelling of present tense verbs.

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