Activity Time: Understanding Verb Tenses

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Did you know that a verb can tell time?  It’s true!  Within every verb is a little piece of information called tense. The tense of the verb tells you when the action of the verb takes place. Mastering the use of correct verb tense is a critical skill that allows a speaker or writer to purposefully convey “time.” 

Do some of your students struggle to understand the difference between simple present, past, and future tense verbs?  If so, Shurley English has an activity that just might help them comprehend verb tense with more clarity!  Follow along, and I’ll show you how it’s done!

1. Give students a paragraph that is written in present tense:

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2. Have students identify all the verbs in the paragraph by highlighting or underlining them:

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3. Next, ask students to write the verbs in order on a separate sheet of paper and verify that they are written in present-tense:

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4. During the next step, ask students to change the present-tense verbs to past-tense.  

Tip:  If you want to change a present-tense paragraph to a past-tense paragraph, you must change each verb to past-tense, one at a time.  Example:

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5. Finally, have students rewrite the original paragraph, inserting the past tense verbs in place of the present tense verbs:

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This activity purposely focuses students’ attention on the tense of each verb in the passage.  It teaches students to use consistent tense to show actions that occur at the same time.  If they want to change a present-tense paragraph to a past-tense paragraph, students learn that all they have to do is change each verb to past tense, one at a time!   

Comment /Source

Cindy Goeden

Cindy Goeden has enjoyed being involved with Shurley English for the last sixteen of her twenty-six years in the field of education.  Working with various levels of students in elementary, junior, and high schools, in both the private and public arenas, Cindy surely is thankful for the providential day that she was introduced to Shurley English, which changed forever her approach to Language Arts instruction. That has led to her current job of having the joy of sharing about Shurley with other educators.  Her love of learning has prodded her to earn over two hundred and twenty hours, which includes two bachelor degrees in education.


Cindy currently lives with her husband, Donald, in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she enjoys puttering in her flowers, changing up her décor with the seasons, and occasionally getting out and traveling with Donald to either explore a new beach or view historic sights and gardens.

Back-to-School Planning: Educational Posters with Purpose

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Although summer is in full swing, we all know that August is just around the corner and school will begin soon thereafter!  I feel like a killjoy for bringing this up, but I know from experience that now is a great time to work on a few of those back to school to-dos!  Instead of waiting until the last minute, why not check a few of them off the list? This week, I would like to focus on selecting and positioning Shurley English Jingle Posters in your classroom!  

Shurley English Jingle Posters are available to purchase.  They are 17” x 22” each and provide a colorful visual aid to assist students’ learning.  The posters are great tools for reinforcing grammar concepts taught using the curriculum, especially when they are displayed properly.  Your students can join the lovable Quigley character as he escorts them through the adventures of grammar if you choose to buy the posters!

Another option is to create your own Shurley English Jingle Posters.  Since Jingles are located in the Quick Reference section of the teacher’s manual or student book, all you have to do is copy them into your own design and VIOLA!  Ideas for how to create your own posters are endless, so if you have a theme in your classroom, use it. 

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Keep in mind that educational posters should be well-designed, well-organized, legible, and attractive.  They should be positioned in a spot that will be visible to every student in your classroom.  In order to promote learning and serve as an effective teaching tool, each poster should contain the following characteristics. The posters should:

  1. motivate and inspire students to learn.
  2. stimulate interest in the topic.
  3. effectively illustrate a concept or skill.


Jingles are an essential element of Shurley English.  They not only teach and reinforce important skills and definitions; they help transition students’ brains into a ready-for-learning state of mind at the beginning of class.  Researchers report that the visual sense is responsible for 90% of brain stimulation and that vision and visual memory take up to two-thirds of the brain.  Those findings substantiate how educational posters can truly assist students’ learning.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with items on your classroom to-do list, especially if you wait until the last minute.  So, get Shurley English Jingle Posters on your mind and either purchase them or start creating them.  Either way, they serve as an effective learning tool all year long! 

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. 

Sensory-Based Activities for Spelling

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As you approach the end of your instructional year, it’s time to pull out all the stops. It's a great time to reinforce the skills your students have learned throughout the year. Here are several cool ways to have some spelling fun:



Idea #1: Let Your Fingers Do the Learning

Tactile learners need extra stimulus through their sense of touch. No doubt, you have one or two in your bunch who learn best through touch. You can tap into their strengths by using shaving cream spread thinly on a large, solid, flat surface. Students can practice spelling basic phonemes in the shaving cream by drawing the letter symbols with their fingers in the thin shaving cream covering on the work surface. Sometimes, your kids may exhibit fine motor or gross motor issues—for instance, in their handwriting.


Idea #2: Piping Sounds and Words

Finally, for a completely edible and delicious way to review spelling strategies or phonics concepts, melt some chocolate chips and add a bit of paraffin wax to the mixture. Scoop some chocolate into plastic decorator bags or zip-lock baggies with a small hole cut out of one of the bottom corners. Announce a group of phonemes you want to review, or whole words to spell, and challenge the kids to “squeeze” out chocolate sounds and words onto wax paper. Refrigerate them after the review and enjoy eating them for a tasty and positive morsel of reinforcement!

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By giving your students multiple sensory experiences with various mediums, such as shaving cream, you can review skills in a fun way and also help ease some of their frustration. Don't limit this activity to just sounds; you can have students spell out entire words, too. You can also turn this into a small-group activity and let students take turns.


Supplies Needed:

Shaving cream (foam, not gel)

Chocolate chips

Paraffin wax (the kind used in home canning)

Decorator bags or zip-lock baggies


You can always change-up the sensory activity by utilizing other materials. For example, consider using colored art sand or colored dusting sugar on a large, flat surface. Letting their fingers do the learning and the reviewing can stay with them for a lifetime if you play it up right.

Comment /Source

David Lutz

David, a former classroom teacher, administrator, and self-proclaimed grammar nut, considers the oddities of English vocabulary and grammar his playthings! He received his degrees in elementary education, teaching, and curriculum design from CMU in Fayette, MO, and the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, KS, respectively. His career has been a colorful collage of experiences in education, ranging from Kindergarten to Adult education and parenting classes.


He and his wife, Marjorie, have been blessed with 30 years of marriage, three grown sons, a cherished daughter-in-law, and the smartest, cutest grandson on the planet! He’s worked for Shurley Instructional Materials, Inc., for over 11 years and loves to help students and their teachers learn to love language and language learning as much as he does.