Regular Past Tense Pronunciation Packing

I have a confession to make, I don’t particularly like teaching pronunciation. However, I have come to see its value, especially in a few specific areas. In the past, when I taught the past tense, I tended to quickly breeze over the regular verbs and jump straight into the irregular ones. This was for the obvious reasons: there seem to be far more irregular than regular verbs in English, and they are more difficult! As I’ve been teaching more and more speaking classes though, I’ve been noticing how often students struggle with the pronunciation of the -ed ending on regular past tense verbs. This has caused me to slow down and spend more time on that particular skill. Now this is a skill that can lend itself to some fairly boring lessons, and while we still do the “boring” things, I always try to find some way to liven things up, and this is no exception.

I generally start our lesson on the pronunciation of regular past tense verbs in the usual manner, explaining the rules, viewing a video (I particular like this one from Elemental English), and doing some listening practice exercises in our book. After students have a general understanding of the rules, and are able to be fairly accurate in identifying the sounds while listening, it’s time to play!

Regular Past Tense Verb Pronunciation Packing was a new game for us this semester and my beginning level students gave it a thumbs up. The game is a free download in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop, so read on to get the details and then download it and try it yourself.

Game Components:

  • Sorting “suitcase”- Pictured above, this is the sorting mat students use to “pack” their sentence cards. Cards are placed into the correct section of the suitcase based on the pronunciation of the past tense verb.
  • Sentence cards- The download includes two types of sentence cards, one with the main verb underlined and one without. There are 288 sentences included, each with a different verb. Due to the large number of sentences in the game, not all of them are travel themed. What this does mean is the game can be played multiple times without students encountering the same sentences too often. I recommend printing each set of sentence cards (you’ll need one for every group of 2-6 students) on a different color of cardstock so you can quickly return lost cards to the correct set.
  • Lost Luggage cards- These cards are not required to play the game, but they do add an extra challenge to keep it interesting for more advanced students. If a student draws one of these cards, the card, and all cards already packed into his/her suitcase, must be discarded.
  • Answer key- This chart, organized in alphabetical order by the present tense form, is available for download above. Students can use it to check the correct pronunciation of any -ed ending they are unsure of, allowing the game to continue without having to wait for the teacher’s confirmation of answers.
  • Draw container- This is the one component not included with the game download. Students will need something to draw the sentence cards out of while playing. This first time around I didn’t have time to make anything, so I used plain white mailing envelopes. Another option could be an oatmeal or other cylindrical container. What I’m planning to do this summer is transform old facial tissue boxes into suitcases by painting them brown (if you use a lighter color of brown, these same containers could also double as “kangaroo pouches” for Kangaroo Words). If I get really creative, I’ll put some travel stickers on the sides as well (since I have fabric bags for my Kangaroo Words game).

Game Play:

  1. The first player draws a card. He/she identifies the main verb (if not using the cards with the verb already underlined) and converts it from present to past. He/she then places the card into the correct section of his/her suitcase based on the pronunciation of the verb’s -ed ending. If the player’s placement is correct, the card remains in the suitcase and his/her turn is over. If the player’s placement is not correct, the card is removed from the suitcase and discarded.
  2. The second player then draws a card and follows the same procedure.
  3. The first player to fill his/her suitcase with nine sentence cards (three for each pronunciation) is the winner.

Game Play Notes:

  1. If a Lost Luggage card is drawn, all cards in that player’s suitcase are discarded (along with the Lost Luggage card).
  2. If a player draws a card and finds the corresponding section of his/her suitcase is already full, the card is discarded.
  3. If the cards in the draw container run out, mix up the discard pile to refill.

Regular Past Tense Verb Pronunciation Packing is the first game of this type I’ve attempted. I wish I could tell you where the idea came from, but I’m really not sure. Perhaps it was because the theme of the past tense unit I taught this semester was travel themed and that got me thinking about packing. Wherever the idea came from, I’m glad it did, as this was a fun game to play. I’m looking forward to trying it again, with a new group of students, this spring. Happy teaching, everyone!