Triangular Time Machines

Yesterday at subject coordinators' training we briefly discussed where we feel may get to with primary languages and the children's knowledge of grammar and verbs.
In Year 6 some colleagues feel that they will be at the point with Year 6 next year where they can explore the idea of time and tenses in the target language.
This will be a limited exploration but a stepping stone forwards in the children's communication skills.
I think it's important that whilst in primary school the children can explore structure through physical and drama base activities .
This is a physical activity.

It's a simple technique to help us with tense exploration.

I have based it upon the verb to play and sports , as most sports are cognates that  we practise and therefore the children can clearly identify the change in structure to the verb as how it's used in different tenses. We are focusing upon past (perfect), present and near future. 
The children will need to be aware of simple present tense verbs , so I envisage this occurring after the Sports focus in Year 6 Spring 1.
The children will be able to talk abut playing games in the present tense.

You need a skipping rope , the three tense phrases written on separate cards plus a cardboard triangular 3D shape that looks like the description below.

  • Cut out a door on one face/side of the pyramid and on the inside write the past tense phrase for "I played football"
  • On a second face/side write the present tense phrase for "I play football"
  • On the third face/side glue  a concertina piece of card that when pulled out says "I am going to play football" using the near future tense.

Can the children talk with you about time that is past , present and future?Can they help you in English to create some simple past , present an near future phrases and statements? Write them on paper and fold these up and put them inside your pyramid.   
Explain to the class that you are going to explore time with the use of the pyramid. 
Place a skipping rope or string on the floor .

  • Look at the present tense statement you have written on one face of the pyramid and  read this with your class. 
  • Open the door on the triangular 3D shape and look at the past tense phrase and read it with your class. 
  • Open up the concertina card and read the phrase with your class. 
  • Ask a child to hold the 3D shape and explain it's your time machine.The door leads to the past ,the message on the face is the present and the the concertina card moves out toward the future.
  • Place your skipping rope as present tense line on the floor.
  • Can your class help you to decide if the line on the floor is the present tense,where would each phrase be put?
  • The present tense is on the line. the past tense is at the back of the line nearer the children and the near future tense is moving in front of the line toward you.

Invite three volunteers to hold up three written cards with the three different tense phrases on them and to stand in a correct position on,behind or in front of the line.Can they all do the same action that mimes kicking a ball? 
Talk with the children about how the actions are the same ,it's the time when it happens that has changed.
Try it out with a new sports phrase e.g I play tennis.

Write up for the children the three phrases and look for a pattern - same structure in the past or in the near future or in the present, we just change the sports.
Now change the sports - try it with golf, cricket , rugby, netball, basketball 

Now make it physical. 

  • Ask the children to get into groups of three and to form triangular shapes so that shoulders are touching and they are facing outwards. Each of them must decide if they represent the present ,past or near future of an action.
  • If the child represent the present then s/he stands firm and does the action for the sport 
  • If s/he represents  the future then just like the concertina piece of paper the action needs to take them away from the triangle
  • If  s/he represents the past then the action needs to make them move backwards in to  the body of the  triangle.
  • Can they create three of these verb time pyramids for themselves with three sport?.
  • Each time the children should swap the tense they represent and must perform the appropriate action and say the appropriate tense statement.
Ask the children to create their own pyramid or triangular time machines with a door for the past , a picture on one side for the present and a concertina card for the future - like your original model.