Resources needed:

  • Sentence cards with missing words
  • Pencils
  • Memory cards game using both the infinitive
  • The past simple and the present perfect, e.g. go/went/had gone, do/did/had done


  1. Remind the children that the ‘simple past’ tense is used to describe things which were started and completed in the past. ‘Present perfect’ is used for things which were started in the past but are still true now, or affect what is happening now.
  2. Give groups of children the sentence cards and ask them to decide if they should use the simple past or present perfect tense. For example, ‘Yesterday I ____ went to the library’ (went) or ‘I ______ growing my hair since I was five’ (have been)
  3. Give pairs of children the matching game and ask them to make ‘families’ which include the infinitive of the verb, the past simple form and the present perfect. Once they have done this, can they create sentences which include all three versions of the verb?
  4. Repeat this activity a few times until everyone has made several sentences. Can anyone offer their best/strangest/funniest sentence?

Teaching point: remind children that the present and present perfect tenses are both used to suggest things which are still true now, or are having an effect on what is happening now.

  1. Now play a game of ‘things which just happened’. Give out pictures of things such as a broken mirror, a missing tooth, a smashed vase etc. and ask the children to come up with an explanation about what just happened, using the word ‘just’ in their phrase. For example, ‘A toddler has just crashed into the table!’ or ‘I have just pulled out my tooth!’
  2. Once the children have created sentences in this form, they should adjust them to read in the past simple: A toddler crashed into the table/I pulled out my tooth.


Further Activities:

Look through reading books to find examples of these tenses and ask the children to change them to a different tense, including the future.

Draw spider diagrams of all the different tense forms children can think of from one infinitive – can they also create sentences using the forms and can they say if it happened in the past, present or future?


Curriculum Areas covered:


(Y3/4) Pupils should be taught to:

develop their understanding of the concepts set out in English Appendix 2 by:

  • using the present perfect form of verbs in contrast to the past tense