Practicing Past Simple Tense with Ladder Race (Game) and Story Writing

Just like my other blogposts under the tag teaching ideas, in this blogpost I am sharing activities that I used in my class for other English teachers to use and be inspired from. If you are reading this and interested in applying the activities described here, you are free to do so with customization and other changes based on your own needs.

There are two activities that I did described in this blogpost to practice Past Simple Tense. Please note that material presentation for Past Simple Tense had already been done before conducting these activities.

1. Ladder Race (game)

Perhaps you’ve heard about this game before, perhaps you haven’t. I tried to find a blog or website that gives description about the game but there was none. So let me explain it in case you don’t know.

Illustration of Ladder Race (game)

Illustration of Ladder Race (game)

  1. What you need: a board (white or black).
  2. Divide the class into 2 groups, let’s say Group A and Group B.
  3. Draw a ladder-like table like shown in the image above, together with numbers, 1 to 10, from bottom to top. The numbers represent the words each group has to race to write on the board.
  4. Start the game by writing the first word based on the category you play. In this case our focus was practicing Past Simple Tense, so the category was Verb 2 or Past Simple of the verb.
  5. Members from each group have to continue writing the second, third, fourth, etc. word by using the last letter from the previous word. For example, the first word is MET, so the next team member has to write a word that begins with the letter “T”. In the image, Group A wrote TOOK, Group B wrote TOLD.
  6. Both groups can’t use the same words. Group discussion is allowed. The first group to finish completing the ladder (1-10) wins.

2. Story Writing

The story writing is still done in groups. Each group, within a limited time frame, has to create a short story with all the 10 words that they have gathered in the first activity, the Ladder Race game. The story has to make sense and each group can decide the theme and topic to whatever they feel suitable with the vocabulary they have.

However, words that have been written by the groups are swapped before they begin the story writing. For example, words that are written by Group A will be given to Group B, vice versa. So each group must use words from the opponent team. Here’s a short story made by my students (Group B) using words from Group A. I found the story quite interesting and funny. They have surely done a good job.

Students' work in story writing using the Past Simple

Students’ work in story writing using the Past Simple

I hope this blogpost is useful. Leave your comment, like, or share. 🙂

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Teaching “Will vs. Going to” with YouTube videos

It was only recently that I started making ‘contact’ with YouTube in terms of English Language Teaching (ELT). You can read my first experience in using YouTube here. Drawn by the successful attempt, I decided to give YouTube another try. This time with other grammar points: Will vs. Going to (Future Simple Tense). The activity consisted of 2 parts and used 4 videos: the first 3 videos were used as the explanatory videos for “Will vs. Going to” and the last video for writing (productive skill) practice using the 2 grammar points.

The steps are as below:

1. Students watch the first video about the use of ‘will’. The video contains some funny scenes so my students were quite entertained. You can choose to pause and play as the video contains several conversations and scenes. The video can also be used for other types of activities (listening, fill in the gaps, summary writing, etc.).

2. Worksheet is given to students and teacher explains a little bit about the use of ‘will’. Students are given time to do the worksheet while teacher guides, but only the ‘will’ part (the left-hand side). Download the worksheet that I made and used here Will vs. Going to Worksheet.

3. Students continue watching the second video about the use of ‘going to’. The form of this video is almost the same with the first one: it contains several conversations and scenes. It’s funny too.

4. After watching the second video, teacher explains about the use of ‘going to’ a little bit and students are asked to continue doing the second part of the worksheet (the ‘going to’ part). Again, teacher’s guide and assistance in students’ completing the worksheet is essential.

5. After finishing with ‘will’ and ‘going to’ in the worksheet, teacher prompts the question: “So what’s the difference between will and going to?” Students try to answer the question and teacher confirms it (explanation can be found in the worksheet). Third video is played.

6. After gaining understanding about the difference of ‘will’ and ‘going to’, students are asked to practice using the grammar units — again, with a YouTube video. I was trying to find a short video or movie about how the future will look like, but ended up with this video “What Will Clothes Look Like in the Future?” about the future of clothes. It is quite interesting and my students also found it quite amusing (so did I!).

7. So what’s the instruction for the practice? Students watch the very short documentary twice (or as many as you like depending on students’ level), then in pairs they have to write a summary about the documentary using ‘will’ and going to’. The aim of this practice is so students can make predictions about the future using ‘will’ and ‘going to’. Sentences should start with ‘will’ and ‘going to’ like these:

  1. There will …
  2. There is going to …
  3. The clothes will …
  4. The clothes are going to …

Here’s an example made by a group.

Students' work: Will vs. Going to

Students’ work: Will vs. Going to

Well, that’s all. I hope you find this blogpost useful. If you have comments or suggestions, or perhaps other brilliant ideas to teach grammar, feel free to drop me a comment. Thank you. 🙂