Lesson of the Week: What did you do in the summer? + Grammar Tricks


Now this is very interesting …

It looks like we’ve found a surprise hit with the new Summer Sports song.ย ย  (My now 5 year old niece drove us all crazy yesterday wanting to do the song over and over – all with gestures she made up herself! )

But it also seems that using sports verbs is a really easy way to introduce not only the past tense but also I can swim vs. ย I am swimming and other grammar examples.

(Thanks to all of ย you who suggested these over on the VIP forumย !)

If you’re a bit scared of trying pas tenses, here is how I would introduce it:

1) Do the song as usual with “What’s your favourite/favorite …?” and “I like..” with the sports.

This should be really simple if you’ve done any of the similar GE lessons before, although actually you could even do it as a first lesson!

2) Now introduce “I went ….”ย 

Don’t do a grammar explanation, just translate what “I went …” means and get the kids to make new “I went” sentences using the sports they’ve just done. ย  This “lego blog” approach makes it really easy.

3. Now introduce the question “What did you do in the summer?”ย 

Don’t worry if the kids can’t say it yet, it is quite long in the beginning but they’ll get it when you do the song.

And of course you can then play any of the recommended games with the new sentences – or even mix them up!

In fact during the summer I was doing the “When, when, when” song as a warm up. ย Then after just two lessons we could say things like “I like swimming so yesterday I went swimming.” ย or “I like skateboarding but last week I went scuba diving.” ย  Pretty impressive stuff.

For teachers, grammar can often seem a little intimidating, but ย for the kids they don’t really care, it’s just the same for them to say “I like …” or “I went …” ย so do give it a try.

And also try using these verbs if you have to teach any other complicated grammar phrases, it seems to work much better than things like “eat”, “drink” etc.!

If you’ve found any other good ideas for this theme, please do write them up in the comments!

Be genki,


P.S. ย If you’re brand new to Genki English and want to try something even easier, check out my “First Lesson Ideas” post.

P.P.S. ย This week I’m giving workshops in Russia so I’m a little behind on my emails. ย I will get back to you all, it might just take a little while!

P.P.P.S. ย  Depending on when you are reading this you might be able to get the discount price on the Teacher’s Set before it goes up on Wednesday! (And I very embarrassingly I said Wednesday is Sept 3rd, when actually it’s the 4th, so I’ll keep it up till then!)

P.P.P.P.S. ย I’ve just drawn at random the blog comment competition winners for July and August! ย They were Samriang for July and for August it was Cesar!ย  ย If you’d like a chance to win a Genki English CD or CD Download of your choice (dare I say vol. 13?) then get commenting on the blog, the more you comment the more chance you have to win!


Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. When I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. Now I help teachers just like you teach amazing lessons and double your incomes!

7 Responses to “Lesson of the Week: What did you do in the summer? + Grammar Tricks”

  1. Roger

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for makings new songs about the past tense. I’ve been looking forward to these ever since you asked which past tense verbs to teach first. Congratulations!



  2. Martin Wenzel

    I love hearing the success stories. I really need to spend more time burning the songs and grammar into the kids heads. The problem is fitting it into the lesson plans we already have.

  3. Richard

    What lessons have you got coming up Martin?

  4. Margit

    It is really an amazing topic, as the grammar fits in at once and the kids suddenly use all those different expressions correctly,

    Now Richard, I went further in another lesson (after what I wrote on the forum), and here I got a tiny bit stuck;

    I did “What did you do?” which is fine and no problem, without explanations; the answers as well. As you say; just translate it and that’s enough for them.

    However, then I wanted to play a game, and it needed the “YES NO” questions. So, I had them think and of course they came up with
    Did you went to…?
    Did you ate…

    What did I do? Of course I explained, as I had no idea how to go over this without explanation or confusion.

    Any ideas?

  5. Gumby

    Margit, I would just ask the questions until they hear it in their heads.
    Have them answer no and then with the correct response as in
    Did you go to Ueno Zoo?
    No, I went to school.

    Or ask them to think of something fun they wanted to do.

    Did you go to school?
    No, I went to Disneyland.

    Once they are hearing the questions than get them to notice the difference.

    It is easier to understand the rules when you unconsciously know which ‘sounds’ right.

  6. Stephen

    I agree with all positive comments. This lesson has enabled me to take my students to another level. There is so much content and the class games and songs are great!
    A sincere Thanks Richard (when is vol 14 coming out? ha ha)
    By the way, is ther any chance of mini cards without the words written on them??

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