Teaching the present perfect to kids

kids performing skit
23 Jan SAV No Comments

This blog contains an hour-long lesson plan to teach the present perfect with games and my skit Ready Steady Go (source of the skit is here).


Target language:

Present perfect: I've forgotten my...

If preferred use this lesson plan for the past simple and teach "I forgot my" instead.

Nouns: bag, jacket, sunglasses, hat, gloves, keys. This vocabulary may be adapted to your preferences or syllabus.

Phrases: Are you ready? Are you sure? Yes I'm sure


Language games to learn the vocabulary


present perfect vocabulary game jump the lineListening Games: Introduce the key nouns using flashcards or real objects. Play the listening game Jump the Line, where kids jump back and forth depending on which side of the line the flashcard (or item) is that you name. Click the link for a full description of Jump the Line for one pupil but it's the same for a group or class.

Then you could play Rapid Reaction, where kids race to slap their hands down on the flashcard you name. If you can't get all your kids around the pictures in a group then make four lines in front of the board. Say "touch a bag" and the 4 kids at the front race to touch the bag flashcard, and then go to the back of the line. There's no need to score points, but if your kids love competitive team games then you could score. Simply award a point to whichever team is fastest each time. I don't bother point scoring with this game as it can be pretty hard to tell who was first unless you use fly swatters, then you can see which one is underneath!

Depending on the age and ability of your pupils, the above two games may be enough. If you need more continue with Find Me before I count to five. Spread little flashcards around class, more than one copy of each. "Find me some sunglasses! 1,2,3,4...5."  Check my Preschool Games book or Primary School Games book for more.


Speaking Games:  Which one has gone? Place the vocabulary flashcards face up with the kids around you. With a big class, use the board. Ask kids to close their eyes, or hide their faces. Remove one (or two) flashcards and ask which one has gone. Kids open their eyes and tell you which picture you removed. If the same kid answers every time, have him or her remove the pictures. Start with just a few pictures and add more, or duplicates, to make it harder as the game goes along.


Teaching the phrase "I've forgotten my sunglasses." 


present perfect concept for I have forgottenDemonstrate the concept by laying out some sunglasses, a bag, and other items. Wave goodbye to the class and head towards the door. As you are leaving, stop suddenly and say, "Oh no! I've forgotten my sunglasses." Go back to the items, pick up the sunglasses and leave again. When you reach the door stop and say, "Oh no! I've forgotten my bag." Return for the bag. Continue until the kids have the idea.  Of course, if you speak L1 you can translate the phrase to the kids as well.

Practise the phrase "I've forgotten my..." with a game, like Board Bash. In pairs, kids choose an item, say "I've forgotten my bag", and aim at the bag flashcard with a rolled-up pair of socks or another suitable missile. Make small groups for this if you have a big class. You don't want kids sitting around waiting a long time for a turn because it is boring for them. Relay Race is a good speaking game to drill full sentences like, "I've forgotten my keys" while passing down the flashcard of keys, or real keys. Click here for a full description of Relay Race.


Teach the concept of "Are you ready?"


language game for are you ready concept kids on starting blockDemonstrate the idea of being ready via a runner ready to start a race. Take a ball, ask a student, "Are you ready?" He/she says, "yes", and you throw the ball. Use a dictionary if necessary to translate "ready". Have the class ask you in unison, "Are you ready?"  Look ready and then say, "No! I've forgotten my bag." And pick up your bag. Repeat through the items.  Play a game in pairs to practise "Are you ready?"  Demonstrate this with one of the best students first, who is likely to understand quickly.  Place one hand out in front of you. Your student places a hand on top of yours. You ask, "Are you ready?" The student says, "Yes". Next, you wait and then suddenly try to tap the top of your student's hand. He or she has to move his/her hand out of the way so you miss. The first time you will hit the student's hand, obviously, since he/she doesn't know what to expect. So repeat until the demo is clear for everyone. Now put students in pairs and have them play, the person doing the tapping has to ask, "Are you ready?" each time.


Writing: It would be useful at this point to have students copy all the vocabulary and key phrases into their notebook. Some students need to see how things are written to help them memorize.  There are plenty of writing games in my Primary school games book (but none in the preschool games book). Click here for an example game, Writing Race.


Now it's time to start putting the skit together. The first time through you play the role of the driver and have all the students as passengers. If you have a student who is way ahead of the others, make him/her the driver on the second time through. Talented students need to be stimulated or they get bored.

present perfect skit in action kids on imaginary busIt may be that after two or three times through the skit, your class will be able to perform it perfectly, bar the odd student, inevitably there are one or two who don't learn well, and you can't wait for them to get it because if you do, the entire rest of the class will be tearing their hair out. It's just the way of things in a classroom. Give the slower ones extra help if you can, outside of class time. If you can, make an audio version  available online for students to listen to at home. With my skits book you get some videos included (I don't have a video for every skit yet, but the collection is building.) Kids could have access to these to help them learn outside of class time.

It may be that you take several lessons to put this skit together. It depends on the age and ability of your pupils. I spend one full lesson on the skit, as described above. After that, I continue to rehearse the skit at each lesson, for 5-15 minutes (again depending on the level of students). And I do something completely different for the rest of the lesson. This prevents the skit from becoming stale through overexposure. When you see the skit is ready, be sure to perform it to another class, to the school at assembly, to parents...or at the very least, have another teacher come in to watch. If possible, video the skit and play it back to the kids. 


My experience with this lesson:

I used this lesson in Nepal with 9-year-olds and it was a resounding success. The kids were super enthusiastic and delighted to be using English in context rather than just yelling phrases out of their book at the teacher. One of the permanent English teachers came in to watch and the kids were thrilled to perform to him. The next day all the kids were begging me to give them another lesson. My Nepalese kids were quick learners so we put this together in one lesson. The best student made a confident driver, but the two weakest students could not manage their sentence, "I've forgotten my..." alone, so the other pupils helped them. In contrast to these fast learners, when I taught 5-year-old beginners this skit, we spent a full hour on drill games and then rehearsed it for 10 minutes over at least six lessons. They were then able to perform it fluently to parents at the end of term show.

The younger or slower your learners, the more language games you need at the outset, to drill the vocabulary and key phrases. Other games I had on my lesson plan, in case of need were: All Change, Run and Fetch, Clapping Games, or use any games from my games books.


Relevant Resources

You may download the full skit free from here.

plays and skits book coverEnjoy my 30 skits for kids with this book in instant download. (You can get it as a paperback from Amazon or your local bookstore, but the PDF version is handy for printing a skit should you want to.)

All these games are in my book of grammar games ESL Games: 176 English Language Games for Children. Available in instant PDF download Kindle, and paperback

Leave a reply

Follow blog

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
Join 2,610 other followers

Blog categories