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What are past tense irregular verbs?

Past tense verbs come in two forms, regular and irregular. Regular past tense verbs are easy to form – you add “ed” to the end of the verb (e.g. I play guitar –> I played guitar). Irregular verbs however, are not formed so simply and have no consistent form. Therefore, their past tense forms have to be learned.

Here are some common irregular verbs with their past tense forms:

wake up –> woke up
eat –> ate
drink –> drank
go –> went
sing –> sang
swim –> swam
have –> had
come –> came
ride –> rode
do –> did
put –> put
sleep –> slept
give –> gave
write –> wrote
read –> read
run –> ran


In this lesson students will practice using the past simple tense with some common irregular verbs.
IMPORTANT: This lesson should be taught after the past regular verbs lesson.

Lesson Procedure:

Warm Up and Maintenance:

See our "Warm Up & Wrap Up" page.


New Learning and Practice:

1. Review past tense regular verbs – "Spin the Bottle" game
Review past tense regular verbs – "Spin the Bottle" gameYour students will have covered some regular verbs using the past tense form in a previous lesson. Let’s begin this lesson with a review of these by playing a fun game of "Spin the Bottle".

Have everyone sit in a circle. The teacher starts by spinning a plastic bottle in the middle of the circle. Whoever the bottle points at when it stops spinning is shown one the regular verbs flashcards (from the previous lesson) - make sure no one else sees the flashcard. That student must then say "Yesterday I …" and act out the verb on the card. Everyone has to guess what he/she is doing and shout out the correct verb in the past tense (E.g. "jumped in puddles"). Play until you have practiced all of the verbs on the cards.

Review the structure "Yesterday, I verb+ed"2. Review the structure "Yesterday, I verb+ed"
On the board, draw a vertical line down the middle, dividing the board into two equal halves. Stick the regular verb flashcards from the spin the bottle game onto the left-half of the board. Tell your students you are going to ask each person "What did you do yesterday?" and they have to give an answer using one of the verb flashcards on the board using "Yesterday, I …" and their answer must be true. Go around the class and get everyone to give you an answer. Also, ask at least one extra question to each student (e.g. "What did you watch on TV?").

3. Teach vocab for irregular verbs in the present and past tense form
Before class, print the following flashcards: wake up, eat, drink, go to school, sing, swim, star jump (we’ll use this for "have fun"), go home (use for "come back home"), ride a bike, do homework, put on, sleep. Divide the class up into groups of 3 or 4 and divide the flashcards between the groups.

Next, on the right-side of the board draw 12 circles. Students will be sticking the flashcards inside the circles, so make them just big enough to fit the cards inside. Under each circle write verbs as follows:

  • wake up – woke up
  • eat my breakfast – ate my breakfast
  • drink my milk – drank my milk
  • go to school – went to school
  • sing a song – sang a song
  • swim in the pool – swam in the pool
  • have fun – had fun
  • come back home – came back home
  • ride my bike – rode my bike
  • do my homework – did my homework
  • put on my pajamas – put on my pajamas
  • sleep all night – slept all night

Teach vocab for irregular verbs in the present and past tense formInvite a student up with one of their flashcards and ask him/her to place it into the correct circle on the board – their team-mates can help. A lot of the vocabulary will have been studied in previous lessons so your students should be able to get the correct answer for most of the circles – if not, you can help by saying "no, try again" until the student has stuck the card into the correct circle. Keep going until all of the flashcards have been stuck on the board in the circles.

Next, chorus each verb three times (e.g. Teacher: "wake up, woke up", Students "wake up, woke up" … 2 more times). Don’t worry at this stage if your students don’t understand why there are two versions of each verb – we’ll come to that next.

Finally, write the word "Yesterday" at the top of the board and draw a red circle around it (or a different color to the color of the word) and chorus "Yesterday". Point at the first flashcard and say "Yesterday, I wake up. Is that ok? Wake up?”. Try and get someone to say the correct form "Woke up". Circle the word "woke" in red (to signify this is the correct form of the verb to use with the word "Yesterday"). Now go through all of the remaining verbs asking your students which is the correct form and circling the past tense version in red.

4. Pair practice: saying past tense irregular verbs
In pairs, students are going to say the infinitive and past tense of the verbs together – once with both students looking at the board and the Pair practice: saying past tense irregular verbssecond time with one student looking away from the board (being tested).

First round: Put students in pairs. Start by modeling the activity with another student and both sit looking at the board. Teacher starts by saying the infinitive form of a verb and his/her partner has to say the past form with the phrase "Yesterday, I …", for example:

Teacher: drink my milk.
Student: Yesterday, I drank my milk.
Teacher: ride my bike.
Student: Yesterday, I rode my bike.

Pair practice: saying past tense irregular verbsOnce everyone understands what to do, have the pairs go through all of the verbs, changing roles after all the verbs have been practiced so both get the chance to say the past forms.

Second round: Keep everyone in the same pairs, however one student must sit with their back to the board. Students do the same thing but the student with his/her back to the board must try and remember the correct past tense form – their partners can help if they get stuck. Again, change roles. Once finished, get everyone to find a new partner and try again, one with their back to the board.

Play "Past Tense Charades" in small groups5. Play "Past Tense Charades" in small groups
Start by modeling: look at the flashcards on the board (including the regular verbs on the left-side) and do an action or gesture. Elicit what you are doing using the structure "Yesterday, I …" (e.g."Yesterday, I kicked a ball", "Yesterday, I slept all night").

Then put everyone in small groups of 3 or 4. One person in each group starts by acting out a verb and the other members have to shout out the correct answer using the structure "Yesterday, I …". The first person in the group to say the correct answer can do the next action. Continue until each group has completed actions for all of the verbs.

6. Play "What did you do yesterday? Line Up"
Divide the class into two groups and have each group form a line, so that both teams are lined up facing each other. To begin, each team is going to race to pass a balloon up and down the line with the winning team the first to get the balloon passed back to the first student. Give a balloon (or rolled up paper ball) to the first member of each team. Say, "Ready, steady, go!". Each team races to pass the balloon, hand-to-hand, up and down the line.

Play "What did you do yesterday? Line Up"

Next, give everyone a verb flashcard (use all the irregular verbs first). Explain that each time you pass the balloon you have to ask "What did you do yesterday?" and when you receive the balloon you have to say "I (ate my breakfast)" depending on the flashcard you have been given. Both teams race, passing the balloon and saying the structures. You can play other rounds with different rules, such as:

  • teams must pass the balloon without using their hands (e.g. under chins, between knees, etc.)
  • teams can only tap the balloons – they can't hold them in any way
  • teams have to kick or head the balloons but not hold

7. Sing "What did you do Yesterday?"
The first time you play the song, put up the What did you do Yesterday? song poster on the board. Quickly elicit the vocab. Play the song and sing along doing the gestures, as described below in Gestures and activities for "What did you do Yesterday?". Play 2 or 3 times.

Sing "What did you do Yesterday?"Lyrics for "What did you do Yesterday?"

What did you do?
What did you do yesterday?

Verse 1:
I woke up (woke, woke, woke)
I ate my breakfast (ate, ate, ate)
I drank my milk (drank, drank, drank)
And then I went to school.

What did you do?
What did you do yesterday?

Verse 2:
I sang a song (sang, sang, sang)
I swam in the pool (swam, swam, swam)
I had lots of fun (had, had, had)
And then I came back home.

What did you do?
What did you do yesterday?

Verse 3:
I rode my bike (rode, rode, rode)
I did my homework (did, did, did)
I put on my pajamas (put, put, put)
And then I slept all night.

(download MP3 here)

Gestures and activities for "What did you do Yesterday?"

The gestures are simple and fun to do, matching the verbs in the song.


  • hands together, rocking your arms back and forth in time with the music


  • I woke up: stretch and yawn
  • I ate my breakfast: pretend to eat cereal with a spoon
  • I drank my milk: pretend to drink
  • And then I went to school: walking on the spot and waving goodbye
  • I sang a song: arms outstretched in a singing position
  • I swam in the pool: pretend to swim
  • I had lots of fun: wave your hands in the air while smiling
  • And then I came back home: knocking on an imaginary door
  • I rode my bike: do a cycling motion
  • I did my homework: pretend to write
  • I put on my pajamas: pretend to put on a pajamas top and button it up
  • And then I slept all night: do a sleeping gesture

We also have a video that you can stream in class to sing along with (Internet connection required):

What did you do Yesterday?

Do the "What did you do yesterday?" worksheet 8. Do the "What did you do yesterday?" worksheet
Give out the worksheets and have everyone draw and write about what they did yesterday – make sure everyone understands that these are their true answers. Circulate as everyone is working away, and ask lots of questions (e.g. What’s this?, What did you do yesterday? Did you ride your bike?, etc.).

When everyone has finished, go around the class asking everybody to tell you some things they did yesterday.

9. Play "Blindfold Guess"
This is a really fun game to conclude the lesson – you will need a blindfold. Get everyone to form a large circle and give everyone a verb flashcard (tell everyone to keep their flashcard secret and not to show anyone).

Play "Blindfold Guess" Next, invite one person to volunteer to be blindfolded. Once the blindfold is on, spin him/her around in the middle of the circle and then tell him/her to go forward and ask the person they first bump into "What did you do yesterday?". That person needs to answer the question, based on his/her flashcard. However, s/he can speak in a funny voice to avoid being identified. Then the blindfolded person must guess who it is. Play so that everyone has a turn to be blindfolded.

Wrap Up:

1. Assign Homework: "Past Irregular Verbs" worksheet.
2. Wrap up the lesson with some ideas from our "Warm Up & Wrap Up" page.

Print Outs / Worksheets:


  • tag
    wake up

    wake up

  • eat


  • drink


  • go to school

    go to school

  • sing


  • swim


  • star jump

    star jump

  • go home

    go home

  • ride a bike

    ride a bike

  • do homework

    do homework

  • put on

    put on

  • sleep




Additional materials:

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  1. To view and print a flashcard or worksheet click on the thumbnail image.
  2. For detailed printing instructions, click here.
  3. print= British English version - click the flag to open and print. Click the thumbnail image to see the US English version.
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