Often times we focus vocabulary development on nouns (names of things) with questions like, ‘What’s that? What’s that called? What else can we call this? What’s he walking on?’ etc.
That’s the easy stuff.
Little learners need so many more words. They need words that describe and give information, and they also need verbs to talk about action and doing.
A recent trip to France inspired this post about irregular past tense verbs which can be linked of course to their present and future tenses too.
If you don’t have an ancient castle handy you can use my examples on a visit to the shopping mall, museum, or town hall. The location is up to your imagination. Generalize the verbs to your chosen location.
Take photos along your journey. Give your child the camera/Phone so they can take photos from their perspective too. I’ve read that those who pause to take a photo take in more of a scene than those who just plough through it. It’s like mindfulness I suppose. Look for beautiful things. Look for weird things. Look for ugly things. Look for things out of place. Look for detail, pattern, and colour. Photograph them.
In the castle we imagined what it was like when it was inhabited. We wondered aloud who slept in the rooms, how they managed to build such a magnificent structure without the technology we have today, what it felt like in the damp, dark dungeons, where they had wooden floors and doors, and why anyone in their right mind would try to invade such a sturdy fortress with their primitive weapons.
We took our time to feel the walls, look through windows, count the steps, and peer at the views from all angles. We stood still in the damp air and watched the mist clouds roll up and down the hillsides. We tried to see shapes in the clouds above the courtyard.
On return we talked about the castles and this is where the past tense comes in to this story. Think about it. It’s real.
Let’s focus on past tense irregular which always seems fake to ‘teach’ in therapy. It’s often drilled with 3 columns on a worksheet, isn’t it? Yesterday I … Today I … Tomorrow I … Boring!
We can talk in past tense about something we did on the same day. Look through and talk about the photos over a snack and drink.
We drove to the castle.
We went up the stone steps.
Three things I saw… heard… felt…
You took a photo of…
In the old days the prince and princess slept… woke… ate… had… wore…
The enemies snuck… crept… shot… threw… fell… rode… thought… caught…
Insert your location of choice and talk about it on your commute home or when pouring over the photos. Have fun!