Acting Activity for Verb Tense Review

Sometimes it feels like we’re always looking for ways to make grammar fun and interesting. Why not try an activity that gets your students moving? This acting activity is fun and easy to prepare!

Use this acting activity as a preview, filler, or review of almost any verb tense. It works very well for the present progressive, but it can also be adapted for the simple present, simple past, simple future, or present perfect.

Subscribers can use the Verb Cards (pages 1–2) in our Grammar & Usage Resources for this activity. Non-subscribers can easily make their own verb cards by writing down 40–50 common base verbs on equal size slips of paper.

Method

1. One student comes up to the front of the class.

2. That student chooses a verb card from the pile. (Prepare the cards before class by cutting up pages 1–2 of our Verb Cards or making your own.)

3. That student then tries to act out the verb that is written on the card. No speaking allowed!

4. To answer, the rest of the class must make a guess using the verb tense you assign to the game. You can choose if you want all students to shout out their guesses (generates more enthusiasm) or if you’d like to call on individual students for the answer (ensures everyone is participating).

Examples:

  • Present Progressive – She is washing her hair!
  • Simple Present – He washes his hair!
  • Simple Past – She washed her hair!
  • Simple Future – He will wash/is going to wash his hair!
  • Present Perfect – She has washed her hair!

Note:

If your students are shy, divide the class into smaller groups (or even pairs) so that it’s less intimidating. Have them take turns acting out the verbs and guessing.

Variations

These variations involve dividing the class into two groups to make this activity more competitive. Before you begin, get the two groups to come up with team names (animals, food, etc.) and keep score by writing the points on the board.

VARIATION 1

Divide the class into two groups. One student comes to the front of the class and acts out the verb. Whoever guesses the action first gets a point for their group.

VARIATION 2

Divide the class into two groups. One student from each group comes to the front of the class and acts out the same verb at the same time, and whichever group guesses it first gets a point. (Be aware that the answers are shouted out quickly, so it’s often difficult to tell who gets the point.)

VARIATION 3

Prepare two sets of verb cards. Divide the class into two groups. Set a timer for 15 seconds, and have one student from each group come up at the same time and act out as many verbs as their group can guess within that time frame. (Make sure the cards are shuffled into two different orders so one group can’t overhear the other group say the next answer.)

VARIATION 4

For a mixed tense review, divide the class into two groups. One student comes to the front of the class and chooses a verb card. You will say which tense the guesses have to be in (e.g., present progressive, simple present, simple past, simple future, present perfect, etc.). Whoever guesses the action first gets a point for their group. You may also choose to deduct a point when a team member gives an incorrect answer (wrong tense, wrong form, and/or wrong action). Be sure to vary the tense each time a student comes to the front of the class.

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