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Language and Communication Understand sentences containing a future tense  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


The child will understand sentences referring to the immediate future, for example "he's going to eat his dinner".

Early years skill:Understanding
Early years typical range:30-50m
P-scales/Curriculum skill:English Listening
P-scales/Curriculum level:P7
TAP skill:Understanding of Language/Comprehension
TAP level:TAP42
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
What's going to happen

Familiar picture story books - the story should involve at least two people/animals etc.

1. Read the book to the child - make sure they can see the pictures - (note this is NOT a reading activity - the child does not need to read the book);

2. As you go through the book, say what each person is doing and what they are going to do on the next page, for example "Daisy is wearing a hat", "Sam is going to put a hat on";

3. Next time round, ask questions like "who is wearing a hat?", "who is going to put a hat on": accept the child's answer, however if it is incorrect, you can say "I think Sam's going to wear the hat", then turn the page, and say something like "oh, yes, he put the hat on". If the child got it right, then you can say something like "Yes! Sam put the hat on!".

Make sure your language fits the context - it can be tempting to use the target language (future tense) even though it doesn't quite fit with the situation. For example, in the example on the left with Sam and Daisy, on the first page (where Sam is not yet wearing a hat) you could say "Sam is going to put his hat on". However, when you get to the second page (which shows that he has put his hat on), the language to use is not now "Sam is going to put his hat on" (because he's already put it on), now you would have to say something like "(ah) ...Sam put his hat on".

What's going to happen using pictures

You can use purpose designed pictures, or you can make your own:

Make a set of pictures using a digital camera with at least two children you are working with. You could also use two soft toys such as a teddy and a doll.

Make a sequence of pictures showing the children doing various actions, such as putting on a hat, kicking a ball, drinking something, eating a cake.

First picture: show the two children;

Second picture: one child doing the action e.g. putting a hat on - and the other child waiting to do the action;

Third picture: the other child doing the action (the first child should also be in the picture having done the action - e.g. if they have just put a hat on, this picture should have them with the hat on).

Put the three pictures in this order in a book.

1. Go through a sequence of pictures saying what is happening: e.g. (Picture 1) Sam's got a cake, Mary's got a cake. (Picture 2) Look, Sam's eating his cake....Mary's waiting. Mary's going to eat her cake. (Picture 3) Now Mary's eating her cake!

2. On another occasion, when you get to picture 2, you can ask "Who's going to eat their cake?" Accept any response, then go to the next picture to see if the child was right. Go back to the second picture and say "Mary's going to eat her cake!" - and then to the third picture: "and here she is eating it!".

It might be necessary to act out the sequence rather than just repeat it using the pictures: see "EW P7 sequences three pictures showing a practical activity" at

Instead of pictures, you could film the sequence with a digital camera.

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