Perfect Practice Makes Perfect (Tenses)

I don’t know about your students, but mine do fairly well with the simple and progressive/continuous tenses. It isn’t until we start working on the perfect tense that the troubles really begin (though they are excited to finally understand what the words in the past participle column on their irregular verb charts are for). It is for this reason that I like to use a lot of different practice activities and games. I’ve tried quite a few over the years, but three have consistently been ones my students have enjoyed playing and have been able to get good practice with the perfect tense. You can get any of these games for yourself by clicking the pictures (or buttons, if you want the digital versions), or you can make your own versions!

Present Perfect Cover Up

Present Perfect Cover Up

Cover up games are very popular with my students! They are also very easy and cheap for me to create. They generally consist of twelve squares in a grid format. In this particular version, each square has a possible life event, such as winning a prize or telling a lie. The events are written with the verb in the simple present tense and all capital letters, to help students quickly identify it. To play, students roll a twelve-sided die and check if that square is uncovered on their board. If it is available, the student must form a present perfect sentence either denying ever having had the given life experience or telling about one such time. The square is then covered in some manner (X with a dry erase marker, use bingo chips, counters, or the ever popular milk jug lids). If the square is already covered, the student’s turn is over. The first student to completely cover his/her board is the winner. Each board has different life events, so students can switch boards and play again if there is time.

Past Perfect Travel Adventure Game

Past Perfect Travel Adventure

While we don’t use the past perfect tense quite as often as the present perfect, it still needs to be practiced. I was teaching a travel themed unit when I developed this board game, so I kept the theme for the game. The game uses a standard playing board that I enhanced with some travel clipart just for fun. To play, the student draws an experience card, which has a picture, location, and an activity one can do in that location. The student then states a past perfect sentence such as, “I had never seen a shark before I went to Australia.” If the student’s sentence is grammatically correct, he/she rolls the number cube and moves his/her piece. The first person to finish is the winner.

Progressive / Perfect Pronoun Pursuits Game

Progressive/Perfect Pronoun Pursuits

The newest game in our perfect tense practice repertoire was actually originally developed to practice the present progressive tense. Then I needed another practice game for one of my more advanced classes and I decided to give this one a try. It worked and I’ve since used it to practice the present perfect progressive tense as well (talk about a tense that really makes my students’ heads hurt!).

This game uses a different standard game board. To play, the student rolls a number cube to determine which pronoun he/she will use and then draws a card that lists a community place. The student must then use the pronoun and community place to form a present perfect sentence such as, “He has checked a book out of the library.” If the sentence is grammatically correct, the student moves his/her piece the number indicated on the number cube from the original roll. The first person to finish is the winner.

Of course I accompany these games with explanations of the perfect tense and its uses, exercises in our book, and other student resources (such as the Review Menu and There’s A Video About That resources I have made to accompany the Pathways Listening & Speaking texts we use), but the games do make things more fun. I’ve yet to teach a text that delves into the future perfect tense, and for that I (and I’m sure my students) am thankful! Maybe someday I’ll need to teach it, but I suspect I could use either Past Perfect Travel Adventure or Progressive/Perfect Pronoun Pursuits to practice that tense as well. Happy teaching, everyone!

To Be: In The World Series

I’m not a baseball fan, but I’ve had enough friends, colleagues, and students who are to understand at least the basics and to have attended a few games. Yesterday was the first game of the World Series, and even though it’s been a few years since Michigan’s beloved Detroit Tigers have been in the World Series (and even more since they won), I, like most Michiganders, am loyal to our Tigers. One summer my co-teacher and I taught an entire week’s worth of classes themed around baseball vs. cricket and we wore Detroit Tigers shirts every day! (Of course it may have also been a creative excuse to wear t-shirts to school each day…)

The World Series isn’t what really has me turning my thoughts towards baseball though (in truth I had to use Google to find out when it would be), the reason I was thinking about it is because I’m preparing a new-to-me class for next semester, a level one grammar class. Any ESL teacher knows the first grammar subject of any beginner’s level book: present tense to be. I don’t even want to think about how many times I’ve taught this particular grammar structure over the years, let’s just say a lot. When I first started teaching adults, and later middle school, it frustrated me that there were few games and other activities to practice basic grammar and vocabulary, such as present tense to be, designed for older learners. There were lots of cute games that looked like fun, but they were all geared for young children. Eventually I stopped being frustrated and decided to make my own. Am, Is, Are Triple Play was the first of many triple play activities I’ve designed, and one of the first activities I designed ever. It’s been through a few revisions over the years, the most recent of which being a face-lift and conversion to digital last year, but the heart of the game has remained the same.

A triple play activity is an activity that can be played in three different ways. This particular activity has the options of slap, response cards, or task cards. Over time I included board game versions as well, making them quadruple plays, but as this activity is baseball themed, and there’s no such thing as a quadruple play in baseball, so I haven’t changed it. If your students are absolutely in love with board games, you can always use the sentences (task cards) with a random game board and playing pieces to make it into one. For now, let’s just take a look at the three versions of play that do exist with this particular activity.



This is a fun whole-class game that all of my students enjoy. It was just a couple weeks ago I played a different version of it with my advanced adults and they wanted to know when we could play again. To play you need signs for each possible answer (for this game I made full page signs with Am, Is, Are on them), sentences missing the possible answers, and some fly swatters.

To play, divide the class into two teams. Each team sends one representative to the front of the room with the team’s fly swatter in hand. The opponents stand, facing the board where you’ve affixed the answer signs (I use strong magnets), fly swatters at the ready. The teacher reads one of the sentences, saying “blank” for the target word. The students then race to slap the sign containing the correct word to complete the sentence. The first student to slap the correct sign (or whoever’s swatter is on the bottom) wins a point for his/her team. The students return to their teams and new representatives are sent forward. It’s a quick, fun way to practice both the target grammar/vocabulary and listening skills.

Response Cards

Response Cards

Response cards are a great way to quickly assess the entire class’ knowledge of a particular grammar topic. They are also a nice quiet listening practice activity for those days when your ears (and head) need a break from all of the noise. All you need is a set of cards with the possible answers for each student.

To proceed with this activity, give each student his/her own set of cards with the possible answers. I highly recommend printing on card stock and laminating for durability and reuse. The teacher reads one of the sentences aloud, saying “blank” for the target word. The students then hold up, word facing towards the teacher, the card containing the correct word to complete the sentence. The teacher can then quickly scan through the cards and get a sense of who is correct, and who is not (you can also make the cards different colors for even faster checks). If you’re practicing grammar/vocabulary that is new to the students, I recommend telling students that no one can raise an answer card until you give the signal. Read the sentence as before, wait a moment, repeat the sentence, wait again, and then give the signal. This will give students more time to think, and reduce the chance students will “know” the answer because they see someone else put it up first. It’s also possible to do this activity by having students write their answers on white boards and show them to you, but that takes a little longer. If you’re looking for a digital means of checking answers, look into Plickers.

Task Cards

Task Cards

Task cards can be used in so many different ways: as cards for board games, student scoot, card scoot, center work, etc. All you need are cards with individual sentences/problems/questions on them and a recording sheet for student answers.

My middle schoolers always liked using task cards as a student scoot activity. I’d spread the cards around the classroom (hanging on walls, sitting on shelves or desks, etc.) and give each student a recording sheet and clip board. The students would then walk around the room, stopping at each card, and recording their answers on the provided sheet. It’s very important to remind them to pay attention to which number card they are looking at and to record their answers in the correct squares! Even when I remind them to do this, there’s usually at least one who doesn’t follow directions and ends up getting nearly every question wrong because he/she wrote the answers in the wrong boxes. My adults prefer to stay in their seats, so I usually give each group of 4-6 students a stack of task cards and enough recording sheets for all group members. They then pick up a card, read it, record their answer, and return the card to the center before taking another. I still remind them each time to pay attention to the card numbers but it’s not nearly as often that one forgets and has problems as a result.

Digital Version

Digital Version

This was also one of the first activities I digitized, and I knew I wanted to see my students’ answers to these particular practice sentences, so the digital task cards that students clicked through weren’t going to work. The need for a digital version of this activity also came long before I learned how to make self-grading digital task cards, with or without drop-down answer options, so I needed another option.

What I decided to do was create a drag-and-drop activity. I shrunk my task cards down a bit and made them the background of each slide (to prevent accidental, or not so accidental, changes). I also added four movable (when in edit mode) baseballs to each slide. The students then read each sentence. To indicate their answer, a baseball was dragged and dropped into the correct glove for each sentence. To check students answers I had to scroll through each slide deck and look at where they placed the baseballs. It was not very convenient, but it also didn’t take nearly as long as I feared it might. Let’s just say if I need to use the digital format of this activity again I’ll probably do another redesign and create self-grading task cards instead.

Am, Is, Are Triple Play is far from the only activity I’ve developed to practice the present tense of to be, but it’s always been a favorite. I recognize that’s likely because it’s one of the first activities I ever developed on my own, but it seems to be consistently popular with my students as well. Here’s hoping next semester’s class enjoys it as much as those of the past. Happy teaching, everyone!

Need some more activities/resources for present tense to be? Try these links:

Need multiple activities? Want a discount? Try one of these bundles:

Interested in more baseball-themed activities? Try these links:

Modal Verb Practice

Modal Verb Board Game: Paper Version
Can or May Task Cards: Digital Version
It Might Be… Paper Version
Making Polite Suggestions Digital Version

I’ll admit it, modal verbs used to scare me. I’d see the term in my scope and sequence and think, “I can’t teach that!” Then, as time went by, I came to realize that I can teach modal verbs, and my students can learn them without stress. Modal verbs are no different than any other grammar concept, they just require practice, and what better way to practice than with games?

I’ve talked about one of our favorite modal verb practice games, It Might Be…, in a previous blog post. A sample of the game is also included in the reading section of English Skillology, level three. I won’t repeat myself here, but I will say that this is a favorite game of my more advanced students, and a great way to practice some vocabulary as well.

The game that I use the most, especially with beginners, is Modal Verb Board Game. In this simple board game, students use the contents of the square they land on, along with the modal verb indicated (based on the number rolled), to make a sentence. For example, if the student rolled a 5, the indicated modal is “have to.” Let’s pretend the student landed on the square that says “school.” The student might say, “I have to listen carefully at school.” What I like about the game is that it can be played with various proficiency levels. Beginning students may state very simple, formulaic sentences. Intermediate students can offer more complicated sentences, and not be allowed to repeat something another player said. Advanced students can be asked to speak for 30 seconds, or more, using the verb and noun indicated.

This game has a digital version as well. The game board and play is exactly the same, only instead of using a physical number cube, students “roll” by using the specially scripted dice menu my husband wrote for me. The students like all playing simultaneously and placing their sentences in the chat. This works well, and I’m able to read them and make corrections where necessary.

As long as we’re talking about modal verbs, I have a confession to make. One of my grammar pet peeves (we all have them) is the use of the verb can instead of may. Yes, I have been that teacher. The one who answered the question, “Can I go to the bathroom?” with, “I don’t know, can you?” Or my other favorite response, “I assume you have the ability to go to the bathroom, but I have no direct knowledge of the subject.” As a former middle school teacher the rolled eyes, stomped feet, and generally annoyed student attitudes in response to this answer never phased me much. In general I try to ignore the misuse of can/may, but when I am teaching modal verbs I like to take the opportunity to teach the difference. We don’t spend a lot of time on it, but we do briefly discuss the proper use of each verb and run through a quick task card set to practice. My middle school students grudgingly indulge me, my adult students are a little more appreciative.

The last game I use for practicing modal verbs, Making Polite Suggestions, also provides students with the opportunity to practice some health vocabulary as well. Since one of the primary uses for modal verbs is giving advice/suggestions, I decided to design a board game that allows students to practice giving suggestions for how to deal with common health problems. The students draw a card with an ailment on it, use a modal verb to form a sentence giving a suggestion as to what to do for the ailment, and then roll and move. The digital version uses another script my husband wrote me, this one a game play script that has a “roll” function as well as a “draw” a card function. The game does provide a lot of practice using modal verbs, especially could and should. Some of the vocabulary required for the health portions of this game is a little advanced for lower proficiency students, but the pictures do help. I still tend to use this game primarily with intermediate and advanced students though.

While modal verbs are still not on my list of favorite things to teach, they no longer scare me. Since they no longer scare me, they no longer scare my students. We just keep practicing them and in time my students become confident in their usage. Hopefully some of these games will be fun and inspirational for you and your students as well. Happy teaching, everyone.

If you are looking for a great deal, you can get bundles of all the resources mentioned above at a 20% discount. There are three bundles available. The paper bundle includes the paper versions of all four games. The digital bundle includes the digital versions of all four activities. The paper + digital bundle includes both versions of all four activities.

English Skillology, Level 1

Level 1
Level 3

This past summer I decided to have an answer ready for the inevitable, “Can I do extra credit?” question. I created a choice menu of four activities for each of the five domains (reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar). I called my extra credit menu English Skillology, and it was a big hit. It was such a hit with my high intermediate students, that I decided to make one for my beginning students.  The level three English Skillology menu (available for free from the original blog post linked above) was based off of seventh grade Common Core Standards and the Core Competencies for the ESL department at the college where I teach. The level one English Skillology menu (also available for free by clicking the picture or this link) is also based off the Core Competencies of our department, but the Common Core Standards come from the third grade ELA set.

At the most basic level, English Skillology is a choice menu. It includes four activities for each of the five skill areas in ESL: reading, writing, speaking, listening, and grammar. Inspired by a Monopoly-style choice menu of someone else’s, I decided to use a game board format for my own. Each skill is a side (grammar is in the corners), and has its own color. Students are then free to choose the number and type of activities they want to complete by the end of the semester. If a student were to complete all of the activities, he/she would earn 120 extra credit points.

​I designed this particular board for my beginning students. In creating the activities I consulted two different sets of objectives: third grade Common Core ELA and the Core Competencies for my department at the college where I teach. Here’s a quick overview of the 20 activities:

  • Main Idea and Details:  Students read a brief selection about the Statue of Liberty and answer five questions about the main idea and details.
  • Text Features Sort: This is a small part of a larger Text Features Sort activity (paper and digital versions available). Students match definitions and pictures to seven different text features by dragging and dropping them into the correct boxes.
  • Compare and Contrast: Students read the story of Little Red Riding Hood and watch a movie version of it. They then complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two versions.
  • Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement: One part of a larger pronoun activity pack (paper and digital versions available), students drag and drop the correct pronoun over the underlined noun(s) in each sentence.


  • Introduction: Students will use Screencastify, or another program of their choosing, to record a 1-2 minute introduction of themselves.
  • Informative: Students will use Screencastify, or another program of their choosing, to record a 1-2 minute informative speech about a topic of their choosing.
  • Narrative: Students will use OnlineVoiceRecorder, or another program of their choosing, to record a 1-2 minute story.
  • Tourist Advice: Students pretend their closest friend is going to visit their home country and give a 1-2 minute speech giving advice about what to see. This is a small part of a writing activity I have done many times.


  • Descriptive Writing: Similar to my Describe That Picture activity, students choose a beautiful picture and insert it on the slide. They then write a paragraph describing the picture.
  • Informative Writing: Students write at least one paragraph giving information on the topic of their choosing.
  • Myth or Legend: After reading the provided example, students retell a myth or legend from their home country.
  • Narrative: Students write a narrative, of at least one paragraph in length, on a topic of their choosing.


  • The Incredibles: Students watch a short clip from the movie and answer five questions about it.
  • The Blind Side: Students watch a short clip from the movie and answer five questions about it.
  • Pronoun Problem: Students watch a short clip from a Bugs Bunny episode and answer five questions about the pronouns used.
  • The Electoral College Explained: Students watch a TED Ed video and complete a graphic organizer about it.


  • Subject-Verb Agreement: A small piece of a larger activity Have or Has: School Supply Rush (paper and digital versions available), students drag the provided circles around the correct word (have/has) to complete each sentence.
  • Conjunctions: Another sample from a larger activity, Conjunctions: The Tie That Binds (paper activity and digital self-grading task card versions available), asks students to drag and drop the correct conjunction to combine the two sentences.
  • Possessive or Contraction: In this small piece of Possessive Noun or Contraction? It All Comes Out In The Wash (paper and digital versions available), students drag each t-shirt to the correct washing machine to indicate if the word/phrase on the shirt is possessive or a contraction.
  • Singular or Plural Nouns: Students drag and drop the nouns into the correct column, sorting them by singular or plural.

So how did I create this extra credit menu? In the most general terms, here are the steps I took:

  1. I designed the choice menu and each activity slide in PowerPoint.
  2. I then saved those slides as images that I uploaded as backgrounds for the various slides (I use the add-on Slides Toolbox for this). This was to prevent any accidental (or not-so-accidental) deletions or edits by students.
  3. I added text boxes. Once again, in order to prevent unwanted deletions and edits I took steps. This time I made use of the master slide. Under Slide, click Edit Master. This will allow you to add and edit various slide layouts. I simply created master slides that included text boxes in the locations I needed them.
  4. I added videos for the students. The listening assignments, and a few others, required students to listen to a talk, or watch a short video. I inserted theses on the proper slides by clicking Insert and Video. This allowed me to find the video on YouTube and put it directly on the slide. Having the video on the slide has many benefits but the three most important to me are: no need to go to an outside site (less chance of clicking our way to distraction), advertisements are eliminated from the video, as well as watch next suggestions (again, less chance of distraction), I can choose when the video starts and ends (so if the beginning or ending is not relevant I can tell it to skip those parts.
  5. I set up the hyperlinks so when students choose an activity (by clicking on it in the menu) they will be automatically taken to the correct slide to complete it. I did this by drawing a square over each of the boxes in my menu. I then made the square and its border clear (tip: don’t make the square clear until after you’ve done the hyperlink so you can remember which links are finished and which aren’t). To make the shape a hyperlink, I click on it, clicked Insert Link in the menu bar (looks like a link in a chain), chose “Slides in this Presentation,” the number of the slide I wanted, and apply. 
  6. Finally, I added a “Game Board” button to each of the activity slides so students could quickly return to the choice menu from anywhere in the document. To do this I inserted a rectangle, put the text “Game Board” in it, and then used the Insert Link tool to link to the first slide. Once I did the fist one, I was able to copy and paste it onto all of the other slides.

I’m really excited about this particular project. It was a lot of work to put together but I believe it will be very valuable for my students. I especially like how it allows them to earn extra credit by participating in meaningful learning activities. Don’t forget to download your own copy of English Skillology from Teachers Pay Teachers today–it’s free!

Digital Board Games

Last week I did a blog post about how to convert a paper PDF game board into a digital game that can be played during distance learning. Since then I’ve been working to convert the paper-based resources that I plan to use this semester to digital formats. This week I’d like to share with you the results of those efforts.

All of the games that I converted are things I obtained for free from various sources. Wherever possible I credited the original source and provided links to the original document. You can obtain your own copies of these games by clicking the pictures on the left. Most will open a template preview window. To use the templates, click the blue “Use Template” button in the upper right-hand corner. This will add the game to your Google drive. 

I think my biggest struggle when first thinking about creating digital board games was how to deal with the dice situation. There are a lot of options out there for virtual dice, but they all involve students having to have another tab open and switching between them. I can’t speak for your students, but I suspect they are similar to mine in that moving between tabs is not the easiest thing in the world. Besides accidentally closing them on a regular basis, there’s just something about having to work in more than one tab that proves distracting to my students. Inevitably they see something, click on it, and become lost in the black hole of the World Wide Web. My husband, a software engineer, solved this problem for me by writing some scripts that I can add to Google Slides, Google Docs, and Google Sheets. The scripts do NOT add dice that move and turn, but they do add menu items (where you see File, Edit, View…) that perform the same function. Honestly, my students are just as happy with the menu items and don’t seem to miss seeing the dice move and change at all. Some of the games (such as Sentence Scramble) require very specific scripts, but most run off of one of four different scripts. The four main scripts are:

  • “Dice” Script–adds the functionality of a D6 number cube; a box pops up that says “You rolled a…” and a number between one and six
  • Game Play Script–adds the “Dice” Script as well as a “Draw Card” function that randomly jumps students to another slide (the “card”) 
  • Alphabet “Dice” Script–adds the functionality if a letter die; a box pops up that says “You rolled a…” and gives a letter from A-Z
  • Alphabet and Numerical “Dice” Script–combines the “Dice” Script and the Alphabet “Dice” Script into one menu item called “Dice”

​Not all of the scripts were used in the creation of these games, but most feature at least the “Dice” Script, and Intonation Monopoly features the Game Play Script. You can obtain your own copies of the scripts, so you can make your own games, by using the links above or the buttons at the bottom of this post. Each script comes with step-by-step directions for installing it and a video demonstrating the installation steps as well as how to use it.

Sentence Scramble is unique because it has a very specific script to generate the type of sentence students must find. It’s also unique because it involves a magic reveal answer slide. I described the step-by-step process of creating magic reveal answers in a previous blog post, and it was the perfect solution to my answer key problem for this game. I knew students would need an answer key, but didn’t want to have to set up a hyperlink for every square on the game board. I also didn’t want to have a slide that just showed students every answer from the board. The magic reveal trick was perfect because students can drag the magnifying glass to reveal only the answer they need while the others remain hidden.

The final activity pictured above, Clip ‘Em Centers, is a set of self-grading task cards, not a board game. I gave the step-by-step directions for creating these cards in a previous blog post, but I’m rather enamored with them. Students type their answers into specific cells of a Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet, those answers are automatically recorded and graded on a separate tab, and a final tab gives students their total results. While the activity doesn’t involve any scripts, it does solve my problem of not knowing what my students answered when they completed digital task card activities.

In short, the past couple days has been a kind of culmination of all my learning over the last few months. I’m excited that I’ll be able to use so many of my favorite paper games and activities this semester during distance learning. I hope you find them helpful as well!

Digital Task Cards

Can or May? Slides Version
Its or It’s? A Vacation Slides Version
See these task cards in action!
Pirate Homophones: Are, Our, Hour: Slides Version
See these task cards in action!

How many times have you given your students a Google Slides or PowerPoint presentation and they just clicked through it rather than using the buttons provided? Frustrating isn’t it? The point of the activity is for them to click in the places we want them to click and yet, either by accident or on purpose, they always seem to miss things by randomly clicking elsewhere on the slide. Today I’m going to show you how to fix this problem. I’ll warn you now: this can be time consuming! But, it is worth it in the end. This post gives step-by-step instructions, but if you prefer a video, skip to the end. 

First, as always, design your slides elsewhere, I usually use PowerPoint, even if I’m going to be giving my students a PowerPoint in the end. Doing the design work this way prevents any accidental (or accidentally-on-purpose) deletion or editing of the slide contents. When designing your slides be sure to create words or “buttons” that students will click on to “answer” the questions. Each feedback slide (tells students if they were correct or not) needs to include a “button” that links to the next question. Once you have all of the parts designed, save your PowerPoint slides as images.

  1. Click on “Save As”
  2. Change the file type to either .jpg or .png, either will work.
  3. Tell it to save all slides and wait a moment. A new folder will be created with images of each slide. 

You are now ready to create your file that will ultimately be shared with students. You want to import all of those images you just created and set them as the background.

  • In PowerPoint the easy way to do this is, in a new PowerPoint file, choose Insert, Photo Album, New Photo Album. You can then use the Insert From File/Disk option to navigate to your stored pictures, select them all, and insert them. 
  • In Google Slides there is an add-on that makes this easier. Click on Add-ons, Get Add-ons, and search for Slides Toolbox.
    • Once it’s been installed click on Add-ons
    • Slides Toolbox
    • Open
    • Import Tools
    • Create slides from images
    • Check the Set as Page background box
    • Next
    • Upload
    • Select files from your device, then navigate to where you stored the files and select them all.

If you have a lot of slides this will take a couple of minutes, but it is still much faster than doing them one-by-one.

Now that you have all of your slides set up as images/backgrounds, it is time to start making the magic happen. The first thing we want to do is make it so students cannot advance slides by clicking anywhere. To do this we are going to link each slide to itself.​

  1. On the first slide use the shape tools to draw a rectangle that covers the entire slide.
  2. Copy that rectangle and move down through the slides, pasting the rectangle on each remaining slide.
  3. Go back to your first slide and click on the rectangle. Change the rectangle so it is transparent in color and has a transparent border. Then click the hyperlink button (looks like a linked chain) and choose the same slide (so if you are on slide 2, link to slide 2).
  4. Go down through the slides, clicking on each rectangle, making the rectangle clear with a clear border, and linking each slide to itself (slide 3 gets linked to slide 3, slide 4 links to slide 4…).

Now, if you put the presentation into present mode, you can click anywhere on the slides but they will not advance.

Making the slides advance is the next step:

  1. Back in edit mode, go to your first slide.
  2. Using the shape tool again, draw a shape (I always use rectangles, but any shape will do) over where you want students to click to “answer” the question. Be sure to make a separate shape for each answer possibility. 
  3. Make your shape clear with a clear border.
  4. Click on the hyperlink button again. This time you are going to hyperlink to the slide that tells students if they are correct or not. You can choose to have separate correct/incorrect slides, or have one slide that shows the correct answer and gives an explanation. Just be sure to link to the slide that has the feedback you want to give for that particular answer.
  5. You will need to repeat this process for each answer on each slide.
  6. Once you finish the question slides you will need to repeat the process to add a box to each feedback slide linking students to the next question.

A lot of work, I know, but it really is worth it. The good news is that once you finish creating all of your answer and next question buttons, you are done. Put your slides in present mode and try them out…pretty cool, huh? If you prefer video tutorials, here is a short one:

Happy task card creating, everyone! Next week I’ll show you how to create self-grading task cards in Sheets/Excel that can be used as an assessment, it’s my new favorite digital task card delivery method!

Cover Up Games

Present Perfect Cover Up: Paper
Participial Adjective Cover Up: Digital
Past Continuous Cover Up: Paper
Sentence Types Cover Up: Digital
Cause & Effect Cover Up: Paper
One of the favorite games in my classroom is Cover Up. We have two different ways of playing it and this post features one game for each version of play.

The first way we play is two players share a game board with the goal is of covering four squares with your color of marker. The squares can be in a straight line, diagonal line, four corners, or four squares that form a grid. In order to get the right to cover a square students must first correctly complete a sentence.

In the participle adjective paper version of the game, students draw a card, read the sentence, and decide if the word in parenthesis needs an -ed or an -ing ending to correctly complete the sentence. If the student is correct about the ending, he/she then places a cover (I use milk jug lids as my covers) over a square on the board with the corresponding ending.

The digital version of Participle Adjective Cover Up is slightly different. For this version I inserted a custom script in order to create an additional menu item called “Ending.” Students click “Ending,” and then  “Generate Ending,” and a box pops up that says “You rolled -ed,” or “You rolled -ing.” Students then search the board for a sentence that requires the specified ending to complete it. The student reads the sentence aloud, correctly filling in the blank, and then is able to drag one of his/her X’s over the spot to claim it. Here’s a short video showing the game in action:

In the second version of play for Cover Up, each student receives his/her own board. The goal can be adjusted, but in general I tell the students that the first person to completely cover the board in the winner.

The paper version requires a 12-sided die of some kind (or two 6-sided dice and students can choose how many to roll each turn). The first student rolls the die and checks his/her board to see if the indicated number is covered. If it is not, he/she forms a sentence using the present perfect tense and the situation described in the square. If the sentence is grammatically correct, the square receives a cover (again, I use milk jug lids). If the sentence is not grammatically correct, the square remains uncovered. If the number rolled has already been covered, the turn is forfeited. 

The digital version is played in a similar fashion, but it has a specially coded “Dice” menu added to it. The first student clicks on “Dice” and “Roll Dice,” and a window pops up showing a number between 1 and 12. Play then proceeds as described above, with the student checking his/her board to see if the square is available or not and forming a sentence when it is. Covers are the grey X’s in the center of the board, which can be dragged and dropped where needed. 

Both digital games have been designed and uploaded so the only things that can be moved or edited on the slides are the covers. The words and pictures are all part of the background and cannot be accidentally (or accidentally-on-purpose) deleted or changed. Here’s a short video showing the digital version of Present Perfect Cover Up in action:

Cover up really is one of the most popular games in my classroom. The use of milk jug lids for covers makes it cheap to make and helps it stand out from other games. The students especially enjoy the element of chance added by the fact they can’t control the dice roll and so the first person to take a turn isn’t automatically the winner. 

All of the versions of the games (paper and digital for distance learning) are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, just click the photos and buttons above. Also available are bundles of the paper and digital games at a 25% discount, and a script you can add to Google Slides or Docs to create your own game using a D6 number cube.

Digital Mystery Picture Activity

Who’s / Whose Mystery Picture: Sheets
Question Words Mystery Picture: Sheets
Syllables Mystery Picture: Sheets

My students love mystery pictures and I love them because they are so easy to grade. Ever since I started digitizing my games and activities I’ve wanted to create a digital mystery picture activity, but couldn’t figure out the best way to go about it. This past week I learned how and I want to share it with you. The secret is conditional formatting. I’ll give you the step-by-step process here, but if you prefer a video version there’s one below.

1. Create your picture in Google Sheets (or Excel if you prefer). Get it exactly how you want it to look once the students have correctly completed the activity.
2. Go over several rows from your picture and start typing your questions. In this case I had sentences that I wanted students to complete, but it could be anything from a math problem to a factual questions. You just need to have a defined answer that everyone will type the same. Place one question per row.
3. In front of your questions color the box where you want students to type their answer. Students must type the correct answer, in the correct box, for the picture to “magically” appear.
4. Now you’re ready to start conditionally formatting your picture. Go over to the picture and randomly select however many cells you want to tie to the first answer. Be sure all of the cells are the same color!
5. In order to help myself remember which cells I’d already done I first changed the selected cells to white.
6. Click on Format, Conditional Formatting.
7. Click “Add Another Rule”
8. In the Format rules box click the down triangle and choose “Custom formula is.”

9. In the box enter the formula: =$Y$3=”Who’s”  The Y is the letter of the column where the answer will be typed. The 3 is the number of the row where the answer will be typed. Inside the quotation marks is the text for the correct answer. If your answer is numerical it does not require quotation marks.
10. Choose the color you want the cells to turn.
11. Click done.
12. Repeat steps 4-11 for each of the questions you’ve created, being sure to conditionally format all of the cells in your picture.

You can test your work by going through and typing the answers in the boxes and watching the picture appear. When incorrect answers or typed, or correct answers are typed incorrectly, nothing will happen and the boxes will stay white (or whatever color you set them to be).

The first time I created a mystery picture I fell into the trap of recreating digitally what I had on paper. I made every cell correspond to an answer (80 questions for an 80 cell picture) and every answer correspond to a color (all of the “am” answers were blue). The great thing about digital is that you are freed from these restrictions. You can make every answer correspond to as many or as few cells as you choose (just remember they all have to be the same color). You can also make any answer be any color, even if it wasn’t that color previously (hence my activity has two possible answers but three different colors). The digital format opens up a lot of possibilities!

My students already enjoy mystery color pictures and I can’t wait to see their response to the digital version! Want my mystery picture activities? Use the picture links and buttons above!