Help students master using action verbs in complete sentences

The Ultimate Action Verb Activity Guide : A few ways to practice the Present Continuous

Helping students with new verb acquisition can be a daunting task. So often, my students get stuck in a rut using the same few memorized verbs. Speaking and writing can become very routine. They use key verbs such as “go, watch, do & make”. While using these verbs and mastering them is great, a more colorful and broad vocabulary is always better.


How can our little (and bigger) learners acquire the necessary vocabulary to improve speaking? I created an activity set specifically for action verb acquisition and practice with the Present Continuous tense. 

The set has 3 activities and can be used like this:


Step 1: 

Learn the verbs (and lots of adjectives)! You have to teach your students a wide range of vocabulary in order for them to begin to have the confidence to use it. The first set of worksheets in included in this set are fill-ins. Your students need to fill-in the both the infinitive and the -ing form of the verbs. These might be verbs that they know or they might be seeing them for the first time.
I recommend going slowly. The worksheets are broken up into 4 parts. each part contains 16 new verbs. This means after all is said and done, your class should know 64 more verbs and that is fantastic! The download includes an answer sheet with can also be used for self-correction or spelling mistakes!

Step 2: 

Let’s turn those verbs that we learned into complete sentences! Using the sentence match activity, your students need to match the pictures to the phrases. This begins to give them a better understanding of sentence formation in the present continuous.


Step 3: 
Let them play! As always, I am a huge advocate of learning through play. At this point, your class should all be on the same page, and be able to recognize and use this new set of verbs. Using the cootie catchers/ fortune tellers, have them describe the pictures. This means that without cues, they have to remember the verb, how to conjugate it and make correct sure the subject and object are correct. 


Remember that this is just a start. The same worksheets and cootie catchers can also be used when learning the Past Simple. Just change the directions. Have your class start each sentence with:

If you want to practice the Past Continuous, have them start each sentence with

Yesterday at (_____ o’clock)

As you can see this is a very versatile activity to continue using throughout the year. It is available for download at my TPT store using the following link:

Action Verb Miming Cards

In my opinion, TPR (total physical response) is the way to go when dealing with action verbs. Being able to relate a movement or a funny face to a word or verb will make your students more apt to remember it. Take a look at the ready to print miming card game. It’s the best activity to get your students moving, speaking, connecting to each other and listening.

 These colorful cards were designed for use in ESL and EFL classrooms, but they are also an ideal activity for ELL primary grades as well.

  • Get students moving
  • Use all that excess energy in a positive way
  • Practice this important verb tense while playing
Happy teaching!