If you’re looking for some of the best ideas for teaching the affirmative and negative past simple, then you’re in the right place. We have games, activities, lesson plans, worksheets, and more. Keep on reading!
Past Simple Affirmative & Negative Games and Activities for ESL
Let’s get into the best simple past games and activities.
#1: Round Robin Story
Most stories are told using the past simple. This is a fun way to get student using the affirmative and negative simple past in a way that isn’t boring! They have to work together to write a story. Check it out:
#2: Steal the Eraser
If you want to have some fun in class, then try out this game! It’s ideas for all ages and works particularly well for the simple past. Come up with questions such as:
- What did you eat for dinner last night?
- What time do you go to bed last night?
- When did you wake up this morning?
Then, students have to race to grab the eraser and they get a chance to answer the question. Find out more:
#3: The Talk Show
If you want to take something kind of boring (interviewing a partner) and turn it into something fun and interesting, try out Talk Show! It’s a nice way to level up an English conversation class. Find out more about it:
#4: Sentence Correction Activity
The negative past simple, and questions forms can get a little bit tricky. That’s why I like to use this simple error correction activity. Find out more about it:
#5: Use the Test Teach Test Approach for Teaching the Past Simple
Unless students are absolute beginners, they may already know a good bit about using the past simple. What they might find tricky is using it in questions or negatives.
That’s where you might want to consider using this method. It allows you to find out what students know and don’t, so you can focus the lesson on the right things. Learn more about it:
Test-Teach-Test Approach to Teaching English.
#6: Find the Verbs
A simple way to build some awareness around regular/irregular simple past verbs is to have students read a short story or passage. They can circle the target verbs, and then make a list of regular and irregular ones.
#7: Past Simple Affirmative Negative Listening Lesson
It’s easy to design you own listening lesson for almost any topic or grammar point, including this one. There are a few simple steps to follow and you’ll have a nice lesson with your students. Find out how to do it:
How to Plan an ESL Listening Lesson Plan.
#8: Plan an ESL Speaking Lesson
It’s easier than you might think to plan your own ESL speaking lesson. Check out these simple steps to follow to have a great lesson with your students!
#9: What Time is It?
Prepare some cards with various times on them. Give each small group a stack of them (3-4/student in the group). The first student has to pick up a time card (3:30), and then make a true past statement using that time (Yesterday at 3:30, I watched TV). If it’s believable, they get to keep the card and the activity continues.
#10: ESL Grammar Activities and Games
There are a ton of nice options for teaching English grammar, including the affirmative and negative past simple. Here are some of the best ideas:
#11: The SOS Game
Check out this fun game for reviewing just about anything, including the past simple affirmative and negative.
#12: My Summer Holiday
A nice topic to get students using verbs from the past is to have them write about their last summer vacation. This can simply be a writing activity, or it can have a presentation component as well.
#13: What Did You Do Yesterday?
Prepare a bunch of cards with pictures or things that people typically do in a day (brush teeth, eat breakfast, take a shower), along with some random things that not everyone may have done (play soccer, ate pizza, etc.).
In pairs, students have to take turns drawing a card and then make a true statement about themselves with regards to the previous day. For example:
- I brushed my teeth three times yesterday.
- Yesterday, I didn’t play soccer.
The key is that student have to make sure the verbs are in the correct forms.
#14: Vocabulary Auction
This activity takes some time to prepare, but it’s totally worth it. Make some sentences using the target grammar and cut them up word by word, in phrases (brushed my teeth, didn’t play soccer). Put students into groups and give them some money. They have to bid on words that they think will help them make the maximum number of grammatically correct sentences. Find out more about it:
#15: The Memory Circle
Use the simple past for this one and you’ll have the ultimate game for kids!
#16: Sorry I’m Late
This is a simple activity where students have to make up excuses as to why they late to school. For example,
- Sorry I’m late. I had to walk my dog.
- Sorry I’m late. I missed the bus.
- Sorry I’m late. I didn’t hear my alarm.
#17: Sentence Building Activities
Time spent helping students build better sentences is never wasted time! This is the key to speaking any language, including English. The affirmative past simple and negative simple past have some tricky elements to them, especially when it comes to questions and negative statements. Have a look at some of my favourite options:
#18: 30 Seconds Challenge
Have a variety of topics that require past tense verbs (last summer vacation, this morning, last night, last weekend, etc.). Put students into pairs and each person has to pick a topic for their partner.
Set a timer for 30 seconds and the first person has to talk about that topic for 30 seconds without stopping. Then, the next person can go. Change partners and repeat with new topics.
#19: Error Correction Relay Race
Take something old (error correction) and make it fun again by turning it into a game! Learn more about it here:
#20: Two Truths and a Lie
This is a classic game that you probably already know. Students have to come up with two true things about themselves and one false game. Although it usually uses past tense verbs, I make it a requirement when teaching the simple past.
Then, put students into groups and you can find out who the best liar is!
Simple Past Affirmative/Negative Worksheets
If you’re a teacher, then you already know how much time it can save to use resources that other teachers have created. Here are some of the best past simple affirmative and negative worksheets:
ESL Lesson Plans for Affirmative and Negative Past Simple
Here are some of my favourite options for ready-to-go lesson plans for teaching this grammar point.
There are a number of questions that people have about making statements and questions using the past simple affirmative and negative. Here are the answers to some of the most common ones.
What is the simple past affirmative?
A simple past affirmative statement talks about something that happened in the past. It’s affirmative because it doesn’t contain “not.” For example, “I played football yesterday.” The form is: subject + simple past verb + object.
What is the simple past negative?
The simple past negative talks about something that did not happen in the past. For example, “I didn’t eat pizza last night.”
How do I make a simple past negative statement?
The form of a simple past negative statement: subject + did not/didn’t + base form of verb + object. For example, “My son didn’t go to soccer last weekend.”
How can I make simple past affirmative and negative questions?
The form of a past simple affirmative or negative question is: did (affirmative)/didn’t (negative) + subject + base form of verb + object. For example, “Did you go to work yesterday?” or, “Didn’t you eat dinner?”
More Ideas for English Teachers
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 87 Pages - 10/24/2019 (Publication Date)
The key to better TEFL classes is a wide variety of interactive and engaging ideas. This book will help you get there: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Grammar Activities for Teenagers and Adults.
Pick up a copy of the book now, and get ready for better English classes tomorrow!
Past Simple Affirmative and Negative: Join the Conversation
Do you have any tips or tricks for teaching the simple past affirmative negative? Leave a comment and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
Last update on 2022-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API