Students on the Move: 5 Quick Games to Practice Verb Use

Students on the Move
5 Quick Games to Practice Verb Use

Susan Verner
by Susan Verner 7,375 views |

Eat. Pray. Love.

They’re more than the title of a Julia Roberts movie. They are verbs, and we couldn’t form a single sentence without them. (Okay, there are exceptions, but you know what I mean.)

Verbs are one of the core building blocks of English. No matter what type of English class you teach, you are teaching verbs. Here are some fun and easy games you can use to review verbs in English. Some you can use in any level class. Others require knowledge of all the tenses in English and make perfect reviews for advanced students. No matter when you choose to use them, your students will have fun and learn with these verb specific games.

5 Quick Games to Practice Verb Use

  1. 1

    Charades (Present Progressive)

    Charades is a great go to game in ESL classes. You can use it to teach so many things not the least of which is the present progressive form of English verbs. Since students are in the process of acting something out when they play charades, the game naturally elicits the present progressive form of verbs. To play, write several verbs on small slips of paper and put them in a bag. Students take turns pulling a verb from the bag and then acting it out for their classmates. When you are playing for verb tense review, require your students to give a complete sentence when they call out their guesses rather than just the verb on its own.

  2. 2

    Most Deprived (Present Perfect)

    This slightly on the wild side game will get your students up and moving while practicing the present perfect in English. Have students arrange their chairs in a circle (no desks) and then remove one chair from the circle so that you have one fewer chair than students. The person without a chair stands in the middle of the circle. They must make a sentence about something they have never done. For example, they might say “I have never been to a zoo.” Anyone sitting in the circle who HAS been to a zoo must then get up and get in another seat. The person in the middle also tries to take a seat. Once everyone is sitting, the person left without a seat is in the middle for the next round. You can play this game for as long as you like. It is good for waking up your students, getting them moving, and injecting a little fun into otherwise bland days.

  3. 3

    Verb Vine (Various Tenses)

    If you are looking for a simple verb tense review, this print and go game may be perfect for you. For each group of three to four students you will need a printout of the game and one standard six sided die as well as markers for each player. (I like to make personalized markers for my in class games, but you can also use coins, paper clips, buttons, or any other small item for players to mark their places.) To play, the first person rolls the die and moves that many spaces. He then draws a verb card and must give a sentence that uses that verb in the tense written in the space he is now on. If he gives a correct sentence, he stays on that space. If his sentence is incorrect, he must return to the space he was on previously. The first person to the end of the game board wins.

  4. 4

    Class Story (Mixed Past Tenses)

    Everyone has a story, people say, but the best story may be the one your entire class tells together. In this activity, students will use mixed past tenses to tell a story with verbs that you choose. Start by writing several verbs on small slips of paper and putting them in the bag. You will need at least one verb for each person in your class. Pull one out of the bag, and start a story using that verb in a sentence. For example, you might pull the verb hike and start your story like this: Hansel and Gretel hiked from their house to the top of a mountain. The next person in the circle then pulls a verb. She must repeat your sentence and then add a sentence to the story using the verb she pulled. Play continues with each person pulling a new verb, repeating the entire story, and then adding a sentence with the verb they pulled. Continue playing till all of the verbs are gone or you are once again at the beginning of the circle. Even if you use the same verbs, every time you play this game the story will be different. It also gives your students a chance to be creative and practice their speaking abilities.

  5. 5

    Verb Battleship (All Tenses)

    Make sure your students have learned all twelve English verb tenses and have plenty of time to play before starting this game. Begin by creating a game board for your students. You will need a twelve by twelve grid. Along the top of the grid, list the twelve verb tenses in English. Along the side of the grid, list several verbs that your students should know. You will need two copies of the grid for each player. Two players face off against each other in each game. To play, each person positions four “ships” on their board. One ship covers five spaces, one four, one three spaces, and the last two spaces. Players should not let their opponent see their board. Each player’s second board is for them mark where they think their opponent’s ships are. Players take turns calling out a space by making a sentence with the appropriate verb and tense. The other person tells whether that is a hit or a miss (which the guessing player marks on his empty grid) and if and when any of their ships are sunk. When one plyer has sunk all of his opponent’s ships, he wins the game.

Your verb reviews can be better than boring.

Try one of these games to review and watch your students really get in on the action.

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