The Spanish preterite past tense can be tricky for students to learn with its unusual conjugations and spelling changes. Adding games to your lesson plans is a great way to reinforce the grammar concepts and keep your students interested and involved. You can use the ideas below in Spanish classes of any size, or even with individual students who may need extra practice with the preterite tense.
Make a Bingo board with five spaces by five spaces, with the middle space being "free." Fill in each space with a conjugated preterite verb (estuve, hablaron, fuiste, etc.) Make each Bingo card using different verbs or at least positioning each verb differently. Call out the English translations for a square, such as "I was"; "they spoke"; "you went." The student who fills out a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally first, wins. Alternately, you could call out, "the yo form of estar," etc., and the students would have to locate "estuve" on their cards.
Soccer Ball Verb Practice
On a soccer ball, label each square with a subject pronoun: yo, tu, el, ella, usted, nosotros, ellos, ellas, ustedes, etc. Toss the ball to a student and call out a verb infinitive (hablar!; decir!; etc.). The student must conjugate the verb correctly for the pronoun that his right thumb is touching on the soccer ball.
A preterite game based on the TV show "Jeopardy" is a fun way to reinforce verb conjugations. Draw a grid on the chalkboard with five categories along the top and "dollar" amounts from 100 to 500 vertically below each category. The categories could be the infinitive of various Spanish verbs; for example, your categories might be hablar, comer, ir, decir and hacer for the first round. On your laptop or a sheet of paper, you will have the questions and answers for each "dollar" amount. For 100 under "hablar" you may ask, "what is the preterite yo form of hablar"; under 200, you may ask, "the nosotros form," and so forth. Students score the points for each correct answer. You could make the second round more difficult by making the categories: -ar verbs; -er verbs; stem-changing verbs; irregular verbs, etc., and then using more challenging questions such as, "what is the ella form of hacer."
Flash Card and Dice Game
For this game, you will need a die and flash cards with all the Spanish infinitives that you want to practice. Assign a subject or subject pronoun to each number on the die: one could be "yo," two could be "ellos," three could be "Marta y yo", etc. Write these on the board or a piece of paper for the students' reference. Each student rolls the die to find his subject, and then turns over a verb flash card. If he rolled a one and turned over the flash card with "hacer," he has to give the preterite yo form of hacer, "hice." Students score one point for each correct answer.