The story behind how this particular game came to be is a little convoluted, but it’s a perfect example of how my brain works. One of the games my husband and I like to play is Blokus. One weekend we played a round just for fun. Later that week a friend, who isn’t a teacher, asked me about games she could play with her kids to help them practice basic math skills. I told her about Three In A Row, a fun math game that can be played with just some dice and a hundreds chart. Still later that week, I was preparing a lesson plan about irregular past tense verbs and thinking I needed one more practice game. Somehow all of these events swirled together in my head and I started thinking, why can’t I combine elements of Blokus with elements of Three in A Row to create a new game? The resulting game was Escape!
Escape! The Irregular Verb Grid is a simple to make and easy to play game. The game board is a 10×10 grid with the present tense form of an irregular verb in each cell. To prepare, simply print out the grids (free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, simply use the link above or click on the picture) and gather your other supplies (all normal classroom materials). I suggest printing the grids on card stock and then laminating them for repeated use. You can use dry erase markers to color the cells (you’ll need one color for each player on the board). You can also print on regular paper and play with crayons or colored pencils, if you choose, but then you’ll need a new grid for each round.
The game can be played in groups of two, three, or four, and each person in the group will need his/her own color. The goal is to move from one side of the board to the other by making past tense sentences with the irregular verbs. Before beginning, each student chooses a side to start from, only one student may start from any given side, and there is no advantage to starting from one side or another. Students then choose a verb, any verb, from the row or column that forms the border of their chosen side. On a student’s turn, he/she will state a past tense sentence using the verb in the cell he/she has selected. If the sentence is grammatically correct (or at least the verb is conjugated correctly), he/she will color in the cell. Once a cell has been claimed, or colored in, by a student, it is not eligible to be used again by anyone. On subsequent turns, students may only select cells that have at least one side touching a cell which he/she has already claimed (and is not already claimed by another student). Of course one wants to reach the opposite side as quickly as possible, which means taking the most direct route, but with other players claiming cells, one will have to make detours and go around previously claimed cells. There is also the challenge of knowing the correct conjugation for the verbs in one’s chosen path, but with up to three verbs eligible to be chosen on any given turn, it’s rare students cannot make a move of some kind–even if it’s not the one they’d prefer.
Since this game came to be during the time of Covid, I needed a digital version as well. Also free, the Google Slides version of the game is basically the same, but offers an alternative “Bridges” version as well. In the normal Escape! The Digital Irregular Verb Grid game, students do not color in cells, they drag and drop covers from their “infinite” piles. The rest of the play remains the same, though I give students the option of typing their sentences into the chat instead of verbally stating them. This was more comfortable for my adult students who were trying to participate in class while caring for young children at the same time.
In the “Bridges” version, which is on a separate slide, each player is given five “bridges,” smaller covers, they can use to cross over a previously claimed square. Play remains the same, but if a player runs into a particularly large obstacle, or ends up completely blocked from forward progress, he/she can bridge the obstacle and continue on his/her path toward freedom. You can make the game more difficult by deleting bridges from their piles, just remember to delete from all piles equally.
This game has met with great success among my students and I love how easy it is to setup and use. In fact, I like it so much I made another version: Escape! The Question Grid, which I talk about in my post entitled Beach Ball Questions. Are there more versions in the future? Let’s just say I have a level one grammar class, with a new-to-me curriculum, to teach next semester and I think I may want something extra besides my Eggcellent Contractions and Fishing for Contractions activities for our unit on contractions… Happy teaching, everyone!
Need those links for the free Escape! The Verb Grid games again? Here they are:
Want more activities to practice irregular past tense verbs? Check out these fun options:
Or get all three of these verb activities, plus others, at a 20% discount in these bundles: