Students in fifth grade are expected to develop a command of "grammar and usage," which includes verbs, according to Common Core state standards. Irregular verbs present an additional challenge because unlike regular verbs, you can't conjugate irregular verbs according to any overarching formulaic pattern; ultimately, they must be memorized. However, making games out of verb lessons can keep your fifth graders engaged and having fun while learning about irregular verbs.
Flashcard Team Test
On one side of an index card, write the infinitive form of an irregular verb, such as "to drive." On the opposite side, write the past tense of the verb, which is "drove." Repeat this on separate cards for as many irregular verbs as you like. Separate your class into groups of 5 or 6 students. One-by-one, hold up a card, showing the class the verb infinitive, and ask for the past tense form. Allow each group to confer and offer an answer. After each group has answered, flip the card to reveal the correct answer. Award one point to each group for each correct answer. You can play a second round that focuses on past participle forms, but you'll have to write up a second set of cards with the appropriate answers. To raise the stakes, allow them to wager points from the first round when answering second round questions.
Flashcard Memory Matching
This matching game is designed for small groups of students who each work individually to find as many matches as possible. Write the infinitive forms, past tense forms and past participle forms of irregular verbs on individual flash cards. Then place all cards face down and arrange them into a square on a table. Students must flip one card, and then flip another in an attempt to find another form of the same verb. Ask students to identify each selection -- successful or unsuccessful -- as either infinitive, past or past participle.
Irregular Verb Jeopardy
On the board, write a Jeopardy grid. Title each category with an irregular verb your fifth graders are studying, such as give, grow, hide, begin and be. Below each title, write a column of point categories -- such as 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 -- that correspond to short, fill-in-the-blank questions that require students to use the correct verb form. For example, a student could choose the category "hide" for 30 points. You would then read the corresponding question: "Dorothy___from the Wicked Witch." The first student to raise his or her hand has the first opportunity to answer. If she answers correctly with "hid," she gets the points and gets to choose another question. If she's incorrect, call again for hands.
Act it Out
While teaching irregular verbs usually requires memorization, you can use visual stimuli to encourage your students to apply what they memorize. On the chalkboard, write all of the irregular action verbs your class is studying. Then, have one student play as your actor. Call on one student to choose a verb from the board. The actor then has to mime the action of that verb. Instruct your students to write a sentence that tells what just happened; their sentences must be in the past tense. For example, if the verb "drink" is chosen, students might write: "Sherry drank something," or "Sherry was drinking."
Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."