In a previous post concerning using the story of the Titanic to teach past continuous, I mentioned an activity at the end that used cards and pictures of little stickmen doing various activities and actions and things.
The idea was to provide visual input for students to develop sentences and mini-stories and in so doing so practice the past continuous / past simple distinction: by giving them one hand pictures showing actions which can clearly be done over a period of time, and on the other hand actions or events that clearly happen in an instantaneous fashion, students will practice and to some degree begin to internalize the distinction.
And since, in some other classes, I’ve been having to work at this distinction with various groups of various ages, I’ve made some pictures for this very purpose. I thought I would be a good idea to share so, here goes:
So, just click on the pictures, copy ‘em, save ‘em, adjust the size or contrast or whatever if need be, print ‘em out, cut ‘em up, and have at it:
Separate them into two piles and mix them up. Ss take one from each pile and have to make a sentence using a past continuous verb and a past simple verb. There are no right or wrong combinations: some may be more logical than others, others may require a bit more imagination to connect the two.
Then, either the teacher or a partner can ask questions to get more details from them. “Why did the ghost appear?” or “Who called her?” or “What did they do with the money?” (In fact, you can do this in such a way during the demonstration that you show the use of past perfect, if your students are up to that, e.g. “The ghost appeared because the man had stolen money from the ghost’s house” etc., etc.)
Okay, gotta run.