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Language and Communication use past and future tense when telling stories  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


The child will use the past and future tense to tell stories and talk about events.

Early years skill:not specified
Early years typical range:not specified
P-scales/Curriculum skill:English Speaking
P-scales/Curriculum level:L1b
TAP skill:Expressive Language
TAP level:TAP56
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Primary (5-11yrs) info; Secondary (11-16yrs) info
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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Spot the story

Sequencing cards (3 part sequences work best)

2 envelopes

Prompt cards for past and future tense

Blu tac (optional)

1. Put all the first cards of every sequence into one envelope, and put the past tense prompt card on the front.

2. Put all the last cards of every sequence in the other envelope and put the future tense prompt card on the front.

3. Lay out all the middle cards from every sequence in different places - on the table, on the walls, on the floor - whatever is appropriate in your setting.

4. Explain to the children that one child will describe a card from one of the envelopes. The other children must work out which of the cards round the room is the next / previous card - they must 'spot the story'.

5. Have one child choose a card from one envelope. If it is a card that is first in a sequence, they must describe it using a past tense. The prompt card can be used to help them. If it is a final card in a sequence, the future tense must be used. (This is because the card the other children are finding is the middle card.)

6. See who can 'spot the story' first!

Praise children for using a past or future tense as appropriate.

Use simple sequencing cards at first. Later you could use more complex ones, e.g. social sequences.

Chain story surprise (past and future)


Pen or pencil

Cards with possible story characters on them (optional)

1. Explain to the children that you are going to write a surprise story as a group, and that they are going to write a bit each.

2. Have the first child start the story, but without letting anyone know what they wrote. After a sentence or two, stop them, fold over the paper to hide what they wrote and pass on to the next child.

3. The last writer ends the story.

4. Read out the story, a section at a time. Ask the children what they think will happen next, and remind them to use the future tense.

5. At the end do a 'story quiz' where the children also have to talk about what happened first etc (past tense)

Some children will prefer to have a character given to them to write about.

You will need a prompt card with 'did', 'has', 'had', 'was' and also a prompt card with 'will / going to' written out to remind the children to use the past and future tense.

See also

Carry out the activities in this TAP sheet focusing on both the past and future tense.

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