How to practice Past Tense using “Hey Jack” series (Grade 1-3)

If you haven’t already noticed, many young children’s books are written in the simple present tense. For teachers, this is wonderful to see since exposing children to different tenses in books is one way to get them familiar with its usage.

Simple present tense is used to:

  • describe facts or habits
  • describe scheduled events

This is a tricky tense to use because it requires a s, es, or ies when used with the third person singular (he/she/it). While children do frequently answer questions about themselves using “I” such as describing daily routines like “I brush my teeth every day,” or “I go to school by school bus,” they rarely have the opportunity to use third person singular.

“Hey Jack” is an early-reader series by Sally Rippin that details Jack’s everyday adventures. It is entirely written in the present tense, and I read the book aloud to my students shortly after introducing the simple present tense in class.

However, I realize that the book also presents a great opportunity to practice past tense. How?

I created the following worksheets to supplement our past tense unit. Since my students are already familiar with the character and the story, I can target the grammar component.

Part 1

  1. Have students sort the words into past tense or present tense by writing or cutting out the verbs in the box. These are the same verbs that will appear in the passage in the next exercise.

2. Have students read the excerpt from “Hey Jack” out loud and emphasis the present tense verbs.

3. Have students look at the verbs chart and circle the verbs in the story.

4. Have students change the present tense verbs into past tense and write them on the right side of the table.

5. Finally, have them add the past tense verbs in the passage.

6. They can then re-copy the story onto a separate piece of paper, or simply read it out loud to a classmate.

I have created 8 different exercises from Chapter 1. I must say this was a huge success, and both my students and Kai found it fun to do!

If I create more, I will upload them here!

Here are other early chapter books that are written entirely in past tense:

  • Billie B Brown series
  • Chook Doolan
  • Ella and Olivia

I decided to make another package for “Billie B Brown” readers. I find this activity so helpful in helping my students practice self-editing that I will likely continue using these in the years to come.

Do check out my other literacy-related blogs:

Published by Ms Claudia L. Kimura

Apple Distinguished Educator, Class of 2015 Primary school teacher, technology coordinator Not just a regular mom, but a teacher-mom Mom of 2 boys, stepmom of 3 boys

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