Rat or Roo?

article by Zoë Disher , photos courtesy Alamy

Learning Intention:

I am learning to identify the different tenses of verbs so that I can change the verbs to suit the tense.


Success Criteria:

  • I can identify verbs from the text
  • I can differentiate between past, present, future and continuous tense verbs
  • I can change verbs to suit the tense


Read the article as a class. Write the words nibble, will hide, lives, runs, digs, carry, hopping, planted. Tell students these are all words taken directly from the text and ask them to identify what sort of words they are (doing words; verbs). In pairs, students are to find a way to sort these words, written exactly as they are, into four categories. Give them time to discuss how they might sort these words and provide guidance where necessary.



1 – nibble, carry, lives, runs, digs (present tense)

2 – will hide (future tense)

3 – hopping (continuous)

4 – planted (past tense)


Once students have identified the four categories, go through each one and ask when we use them. (Present tense is for when something’s happening now or happens habitually, future tense is for when it happens in the future, continuous means it’s actively happening now, past tense means it’s happened in the past.) Have students give more examples of each, then give sentences with each type.



Present – I live in a house. The dog barks every night. I comb my hair.

Future – I will live in a house. The dog will bark every night. I will comb my hair.

Continuous – I am living in a house. The dog is barking. I am combing my hair.

Past – I lived in a house. The dog barked every night. I combed my hair.


Have students examine their answers and find clues to help them easily identify verb tenses. For example, continuous verbs end in ‘ing’, future verbs use ‘will’, past verbs often end in ‘ed’.

Hand out copies of the image below, or create a similar template. Explain that students are to pair up and play a game of battleships. (For a short tutorial, watch the YouTube video How to Play Battleship.) Students can set up their ships the same way they would in a normal game of battleships, but instead of calling out grid coordinates, they must use the subject and the verb of their chosen square to create a sentence, depending on which tense you call out.


Sample sentences include: A rat ate seeds. A starfish will look like a star. A rat-kangaroo moves by running. A koala is sleeping in a tree.