Using four sided dice for tenses

ESL activity using four sided dice

Four sided dice being used to add variety to an ESL activity.

Recently, I have had great success incorporating four sided dice into the lesson. Because a few of the students do not like sentence drills, role plays or game tasks (oddly!), I have had to find a way to get them talking to each other without me involved.  Then don’t like activity sheets but they like rolling dice.  While normal game dice (six-sided) are great for board type activities and pennies are great for two-sided needs, I had been needing something with just the right number for some basic tenses.  This is great for randomizing their drills

So I have been having them role dice to determine the tense to make sentences with a new grammar point.  First I give the students the dice and what I call a cheat sheet.  The cheat sheet has what each number on the die translates too.  For example, 1 is present tense, 2 is past tense, 3 is future tense and 4 is make a negative sentence in any tense.  Then, I pass out a stack of strips of paper.  I combine roll for tense with drawing slips of paper with words on them to incorporate with the grammar point.  They can go fast in their groups or a little slower, it allows for self pacing.  If one group finishes incredibly early,  they can just reshuffle and keep drawing until the 10 minutes is used up.  And I can walk between groups and answer questions.

Additionally, it is the first time for many of the students to use four sided dice.  They have fun learning how.  As can be seen in the picture, for some four sided dice, such as the white one, it is the top point which has the number rolled, and for others, such as the red one, it is the base of the pyramid touching the table which has the number.  Please free to make a comment if you have an alternative, have an extension, or an experience with this or similar method.


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