How to Teach 'Expressing Past Activities' in Form One

How to Teach 'Expressing Past Activities' in Form One

Welcome to UNIT 17.2

PREVIOUSLY: In Unit 17.1, we covered the sub topic "Expressing feelings" in Form One.
IN THIS UNIT 17.2, we will cover the sub topic “"Expressing past activities" in Form One.

Sub Topic: Expressing Past Activities
Periods per sub topic: 12
Class: Form One

We have the past. Thus, we can also talk about the past activities. The students have to be taught how to relate their present with the past activities by using proper tenses and words.

In this sub topic/lesson, the student should be able to narrate his/her past activities.

This stage is about the preparation of the teacher before undertaking the lessons of the particular sub topic. These are all activities, procedures, materials, teaching aids, and games prepared by the teacher for teaching a sub topic:

  1. Putting heads together: Introducing the topic/lesson properly. Organising how students will be able to get to know what is the topic/lesson about. It is where teacher makes sure that students are going to be in his/her train. It includes brainstorming and familiarisation of the topic/lesson with the students.
This makes students stay together with the teacher. It is at this stage students can understand what is going to be discussed in the particular topic.

In this sub topic/lesson; teacher has to guide students to brainstorm on how to express past activities. The teacher is going to guide students to respond to the preliminary discussion of the sub topic/lesson. The teacher has to prepare the best starting point to get students going. For example, the teacher may have prepared the following brainstorming questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What did you do yesterday before going to bed?
  • What did you eat yesterday?
  • Where did you go yesterday after school?
  • What did you learn yesterday?
  • What lesson interested you most yesterday?
The teacher has to prepare as many questions as possible. These questions together with their responses will get students going.

  1. Preparation of Materials. A teacher has to decide on the teaching/learning materials he/she is going to use.

In this sub topic/lesson, a teacher will have to prepare a variety of texts on past activities and substitution tables for practising expressing past activities. The teacher has to prepare many materials for students to practice expressing past tense.

  1. Target Practice. Show them/Guide them to the practice of the functions of the sub topic. A teacher has to show or guide students to the target practice of the grammatical functions of the sub topic.

In this sub topic/lesson: Teacher will guide students to practice how to narrate past activities by using past tense and by using the other forms like:

  • Where did you go yesterday?
  • Yesterday I went to greet my uncle.
  • What did you do yesterday?
  • Yesterday I went to visit my uncle.
  • Yesterday we read a story book.
  • What did you do yesterday evening?
  • Yesterday evening I finished my homework
  • What did she/he do last week?
  • Last week she/he wrote a letter to her/his brother.
  • Did he water the flowers?
  • No, he didn't.
  1. Context-Based Practice. A teacher leads students to the discussion on how the target grammatical functions practised earlier can be applied or integrated into the contexts and situations. The students are guided by the teacher to apply the learnt skills in relevant contexts and situations like school and library.

In this sub topic/lesson, the teacher will use situations like school, home, stadium, and farms to help students learn more interactively in meaningful contexts and social settings.
At school: what did you learn yesterday?
Yesterday, we learnt History
At home: What did you do at home after school?
I cleaned my school uniforms
At stadium: What game did you watch at stadium?
We watched an interesting football game
At farm: What did you do at the farm?
We sowed maize

  1. Vocabulary Building Practice. At this time, teacher discusses with the students on the vocabularies and phrases to apply in the already mentioned contexts and situations.

In this sub topic/lesson, the most commonly applied vocabularies are: simple past tense verb forms.

Guide the students to the full sub topic/lesson procedures, activities and games for better understanding of the sub topic by following these activities:

ACTIVITY ONE: Brainstorming the sub topic/lesson through oral questions with answers, pair works, and group discussions of all important concepts to get students on track.
In this activity, the teacher has to guide students to brainstorm their past activities done in the previous day, previous week, previous months, and previous years. The teacher will have to use set questions and ask students' responses on the particular oral questions:
What did you do yesterday?
Yesterday I read English newspaper

What did you do last week?
Last week, I wrote a letter to my uncle

What did you do last month?
Last month, I won the Weekly Smart Student Award

Where did you visit last year?
Last year, I visited my grandfather

ACTIVITY TWO: Teacher's application of his/models or examples so as to bring the topic/lesson and the students into the real or common sense of the topic/lesson.

In this activity, the teacher has to express activities he/she did in the past by clearly demonstrating to students. As the teacher you always have that responsibility to show students the right way after introducing the sub topic/lesson.

Teacher's Model
Yesterday I woke up early in the morning. I brushed my teeth and took bath. I hurried to my home table and took my things. Then I went to school. After putting my things in the office, I attended parade for students' inspection and went back to my office. As soon as the bell rang, I took my things and went to Form One class. I taught them the topic "Talking about past activities" in English language. At the end of the lesson, students had understood.
This is what I did yesterday.

ACTIVITY THREE: Showing students how models like that of a teacher can be applied by them. Here students need to be guided on how to use given expressions, structures, vocabulary, and phrases or similar ones.

In this activity, students to express their past activities and other people's past activities from a substitution table given. At this point, students are going to take part in talking about past activities.
First, the teacher can ask students to be in pairs and practice talking about past activities in pairs through dialogues:
MIKE: What did you do yesterday?
JULIUS; Yesterday I went to visit my uncle
MIKE: What did you do there?
JULIUS: I helped him to clean the garden
MIKE: Did he tell you some stories?
JULIUS: Yes, he did. Uncle is very good at old stories!
MIKE: I hope you enjoyed so much. Can I go with next time?
JULIUS: Yes, I will enjoy your company, my friend.

Second, the teacher will give students plenty of substitution tables to practice talking about past activities correctly.
The following substitution tables can be applied:
Construct 10 sentences from this table below:
What did you
What did Juma
Yesterday I
Yesterday they
Where did she
Where did he


last week?
to school
to market
last year
last Monday

Many substitution tables like this have to be prepared by the teacher to help him/her assess the students closely and identify if they have mastered the skill.

ACTIVITY FOUR: Taking/leading students to the real situations or contexts where they can apply what they have mastered. Here speaking, reading or writing activities are involved.

In this activity, the teacher will guide students to various writing activities
The teacher asks students to write and dramatize dialogues on what they and other people did in the past.

Also the teacher will have to guide his/her students to read a text on past activities. After reading the given texts, the teacher asks students to execute the following tasks:
First, the teacher should ask students to form groups and identify various words showing past activities in their respective groups.
Second, the teacher should ask students to write and dramatize dialogues on what they and other people did in the past.

ACTIVITY FIVE: Winding up the topic/lesson. Here teachers summarise the topic/lesson by emphasizing the importance of the sub topic/lesson and suggesting other related aspects of the sub topic/lesson.

In this activity, the teacher will make sure he/she sums up the sub topic/lesson appropriately. After the lesson, the students should feel called to act upon the skills learnt. This can be done by giving students more exercises and speaking activities.

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITY: As a teacher, what other activity can be applied in this sub topic/lesson? You can always drop your alternative activity or activities to this article so as to improve teaching and learning of ‘O’ Level English Blog! (OLE).

Past Tense
For more on Past Tense, check out Past Tense
When talking about past activities, one has to consider and master Past Tense verb forms and all the Forms of Past tense.
Tense may be defined as a form of verb change that introduces the past. For example, the past tense verb forms of the verbs eat, go, ask are ate, went, and asked respectively.

The Past tense is the tense that is always used to talk about events which have happened already. For example:
Mabula's family moved to Tanga in 1999.
Last night, grandmother told us nice stories.
Students prepared school garden yesterday.

For Chart on practicing tenses, check out All Tense Practices

Tenses are sometimes difficult to master. But they are simple when they exercised regularly by the learners. The teacher has to ask students to express how they talk about past activities at home and how others talk about past activities at home and elsewhere.

A teacher should design an evaluation for students by using appropriate assessment tools like oral questions or assignments so that to see if the student is able to narrate past activities. Students should be able to write an account of events that happened in the past.

Ask students to narrate what happened in the past focusing on the day they started Standard One in Primary School, or generally, narrate what interesting event happened during their whole Primary School years. Other areas where events may happen are birthdays, weddings, graduations, rallies, public holidays, religious holidays, and demonstrations.

Assessment #01: Group work.
Guide students to form groups then ask them to write simple dialogues in which two or three people are talking about the past activities. Encourage them to use appropriate past tense verb forms.

Assessment #02: Pair works
Guide students to be in pairs then ask them to compose simple dialogues on past activities. As a pair, they should dramatize this dialogue one after another. Or a teacher may prepare the dialogues and ask students' pairs to dramatize in turns

Assessment #03: Individual work.
After excelling in group works and pair works, the teacher can ask students to do various individual works so as to assess if they have understood the sub topic/lesson well. Some of these individual works are:

1. Complete the sentences by using the words in brackets.

  • May sister got ........... last week (marry)
  • Last week they..............the school (close)
  • She Mpanda yesterday (go)
  • uncle last Sunday (visit)
  • Students.............home works last week (finish)
2. Change the following sentences into the past

  • I buy 5 kilos of rice.
  • He paints the house.
  • She draws a nice picture.
  • The students speak good English.
  • We watch a good movie everyday.
  • Asha cooks nice ugali.,
Note: You can give students more individual works, pair works, and group works to facilitate their interaction and understanding of the sub topic or lesson. As English language teacher you have to give students more works to do. Because language is meant to be largely spoken and written, the teacher should rely on written exercises and notes. Instead students have to learn English language by vigorously exercising individually, in pairs, and in groups.

To master English tenses, the teacher and his/her students have to work on countless exercises, drills, and speaking activities as a class. More emphases should be place on speaking and writing exercises.

NOTE: These stages explained above are not necessarily covered in a single lesson of single or double period. Remember that this is the guide for teaching the whole sub topic which has periods ranging from 6 to 20. So, the teacher's task is to divide these stages according to the total number of periods for a particular sub topic.


Title: “Form One English Language Notes with Grammar, Exercises and Key Answers”
Edition: 1st (2022)
Format: PDF
Size: 2.16 MB
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Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.

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