How Not To Teach About Past Tense

December 20, 2010 by Michelle

Yesterday, I was working with Little Miss on her reading, as she’s still not fully reading independently. Part of that is because she doesn’t want to try, knowing that she’s the only one in the family who doesn’t know how to read.

After reminding her that once she learns how to read she’ll earn her very own library card, she was once again excited about trying reading. And she’s actually much better than she thinks she is. We’re continuing to read the Bob Books, and she’s starting to get into compound words.

We came to a book that includes several words with the “ed” ending. Since it isn’t really pronounced “ehd” or something that’s easy to explain, I decided to explain the concept of past tense, much like I explained the concept of the silent e and how it worked magic on the vowel earlier in the word.

So Little Miss, do you know what past tense is?

No, she muttered, pouting at me.

Well, the “ed” at the end of words shows that they are past tense. They happened before. Action words we’ve been reading have been in present tense, meaning they are happening now.

*Blank Look*

Think about it with this example. Today I jump. Yesterday, what did you do?

I don’t know. I don’t remember! she wailed.

Once I recovered and finally stopped laughing, I did get the concept explained to her. No no, Sweetie. I don’t mean what did you actually do yesterday. I mean if you jump every day, today you jump and yesterday you jumped, and she is happily now reading her past tense words. She’s even figured out the dreaded “ight” words.

Ummm and yes, she is wearing a swimsuit cover up over her clothes, why do you ask?

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    Comments

  • Lisa


    I hate our language!

  • Susie


    Don't you love it when they dress themselves?

  • Tara R.


    I studied Spanish in high school, and German in college… English by far is the most complex and confusing language.

  • Melisa with one S


    Man, she just gets cuter and cuter.

    Oh, nice post, too. 🙂

  • Laural Out Loud


    I'm so glad that my daughter's teacher is as fabulous as she is at explaining all this stuff to the kids. Because I'm hopeless! And I love her outfit!

  • Michelle


    Lisa – Well since I speak it natively, I'm ok with it… but I'm glad I didn't have to learn it. It just cracked me up that she thought I was asking her to recount her day “yesterday” versus simply saying “I jumped.”

    Susie – Ummm yes. Yes I do. That's why some clothes are kept in the high laundry closet where she can't reach them 😉

    Tara – I always thought German was super complex because it is set up backwards from most of the Romance languages, but … English isn't so helpful!

    Melisa – I think so. Good to know others do, too!

    Laural – I have found that explaining the concepts behind things helps, but sometimes I skip a few steps in my head, I think!

  • septembermom


    Too cute! Love the outfit. She and Jillian would be great dress up buddies!

  • Pat


    Good explanation of past tense, Michelle!

    Little Miss reading “-ight” words?!! That's more advanced than most of the kindergarteners I work with! Way to go, Little Miss!

  • Michelle


    Kelly – The entertaining thing is that she won't PLAY dress up. This is simply what she wears outside. Whee.

    Pat – Oh you need to go see the Bob books. They are aweseome – they build on everything and she's far enough into the series that they're doing “ight” and book 1 of Set 5 is doing the could/would/should set among one other new sound that I can't think of right now.

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