Try These 7 Speedy Activities for Teaching the Past Progressive
The Luck of the Draw
Write several past times on small slips of paper and put them in a hat. Have students draw a time from the hat and then tell what they were doing at that time using the past progressive.
Have your students visit a public area for their homework, preferably an area with a lot of people. If they don’t know it already, explain the concept of ‘people watching’. Tell your students to take notes during their visit and then report back to the class the next day. They should use the past progressive to describe what they saw on their homework trips.
Give your students pictures that show a lot of activity (‘Where’s Waldo’ books are a good source) and give them one minute to study the picture. Then, have them turn over the picture and ask questions about what was happening in the picture. (e.g. What was the little girl doing? How many people were eating?)
What You Didn’t Do
Have pairs of students work together to list some things they didn’t do yesterday. Then one student asks the second why she didn’t do a particular activity. (Why didn’t you do your homework?) The second student answers using the past progressive. (I was watching television.)
Put your students into groups of about five for a crime investigation role play. One person plays the detective whose job it is to learn who stole the cookie from the cookie jar. She asks questions of her group to identify the thief, and they give their alibis using the past progressive.
One person acts as the accuser and asks classmates why they were doing strange activities, and the second student must explain that strange activity. Each question should start with ‘When I saw you…’ For example, the accuser might say, ‘When I saw you, you were sticking bubblegum to your shoe’. The second student might answer, ‘I was filling in a hole in my shoe’. Encourage your students to be as creative and outrageous as they can for this activity!
So Much In Common
Have students work in pairs to discover similar things they were doing at the same time. They might start with questions like, ‘What were you doing at 7 p.m?’ Each pair should try to find at least two things they were doing at the same time and then share them with the class. ‘At 7 p.m. we were both watching television’.