EFL - ESL activities and games for using the present simple

This ESL lesson plan contains activities and games for teaching the present simple to elementary level students. Use these as a stand-alone lesson plan, or to supplement an existing one. If you use an iOS or Android device, don't forget that you can get offline access to these materials, along with a much more extensive selection of ESL lesson plans, through the TEFL Handbook app.

Lead-in activity

Use the board work below to step through the functional uses of the present simple. Students at this level should have an understanding of the grammar, so try to focus this lesson on its functional applications and elicit simple examples that demonstrate each.

EFL - ESL Lead-in activity on using present simple | Elementary

ESL classroom activities

Simple definitions 

The students have to use the target language to make definitions. 

For this activity, you'll step through a series of nouns on the board and have your students create present simple statements that define them. Write the best definitions on the board as you go. 

Alternatively, you could make a list on the board and have students work in groups to create definitions. Some examples: 

Helicopter 
Grandfather 
Classroom 
Dining room 
Customer 
Fruit 
Bridge 
Elephant

Q and A practice 

For this two-part activity, the students first create questions from a list of prompts on the board, before using them to interview a partner. 

For the first part of this activity, students will have to reorder the words from the prompts below to make questions. Encourage them to check their answers with a partner when they have finished: 

1. evenings / do / like / you / what / to / in? 
2. Homework / when / you / your / do / do? 
3. of / type / like / music / do / you / what? 
4. studying / enjoy / you / English / do? 
5. you / friends / do / doing / with / like / What / your? 
6. any / do / hobbies / you / have? 

They will then use this list of questions to interview each other. Confirm that they have the correct answers before dividing them into pairs.

Buddy ol' Pal 

A writing activity where the students use the present simple to write a paragraph about their best friend. 

Start by eliciting some adjectives that describe a person's personality and add them to the board: 

For example: Boring, funny, serious, fun, friendly, amazing, clever. 

Next, tell the students they are going to write about their best friend. Before they begin, elicit the type of information that they will need to put down and add it to the board. Confirm that they understand each of these: 

Physical characteristics 
Personality 
What you like about them 
Good at / Not good at 
Things you have in common 
Things you do together

Give me more 

For this writing activity, the students will use some basic linking constructions to compare and contrast the seasons. 

First, you'll need to confirm the students' understanding of the use of andbut and because and demonstrate how we use each one to give more information on something. Elicit or create examples on the board if you need to. Next, have the students write about things that they do during the summer that they don't do in the winter. They should use the present simple for each statement and demonstrate the correct usage of andbut and because to give more information.

Related ESL games for teaching the present simple

Hot seat: Present simple 

Students will have to describe sentences that contain the target language to the player in the hot seat. 

Start by dividing the class into two teams. On each turn, one student will sit with their back to the board facing their teammates. Write a present simple sentence on the board behind the student in the hot seat. The other students must then make their teammate say this sentence using only English and without their hands or other gestures. 

Set a timer for between 1 and 2 minutes, depending on the level of the class. Also, you can choose to increase the difficulty by adding adjectives. Some examples: 

The police drive white cars. 
The earth goes around the sun. 
Ronaldo lives in Madrid. 
Spain has a lot of beaches. 

To make it easier for the students to organise their explanations, divide the sentence on the board into three parts. The subjectverb and object.

More A2 level ESL lesson plans

If you've found these ideas useful, be sure to check out our complete list of ESL lesson plans for elementary level students, A2 lower and A2 upper. For other levels, see the entire collection of ESL lesson plans. Our suggested next lesson is on personal pronouns. Also, Android and iOS users can access all of our materials through the TEFL Handbook app. An ESL lesson planner for English teachers.

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