Learning about helping verbs can be fun for your students, especially if you introduce some helping verb games into your lesson plans. Consider how much more fun your students will have when games are played in the classroom. Incorporate one or more of these six fun game ideas into your helping verbs activities.
Rags to Riches Game for Helping Verbs
One game that is sure to get your students excited about helping verbs is "Rags to Riches," a game that is set up a lot like the popular television show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? It requires a little bit of setup, but it can be played easily.
Before playing the game, create several sentences that feature helping verbs. Pick out four words from each sentence to be four answer options for students to choose from. Of course, make sure one of the options is actually a helping verb.
When it is time to play, start by dividing your class into groups of four.
- Each group will work as a team, starting by designating one person to be the spokesperson for the team.
- For each question, which is worth $5 of play money, have your students select the correct helping verb from the four possible answers.
- After students have completed all the items, call out the answers so students of each group can check their work.
- Have the spokespeople raise a hand to let you know if their group got the answer right or wrong.
- Pass out the play money accordingly.
- Have the groups tally their play money at the end of the game.
The winning group will have the most play money after the game.
Helping Verb Musical Chairs
Many teachers rely on the tried and true songs that feature helping and linking verbs and invent helping verb games that feature these songs. Consider using one (or both) of the two helping songs below to lead a musical chairs game with your class.
Prepare a lyrics sheet for the song(s) you will be using. Set chairs up in an oval or circle, with one less chair than the number of players.
- Have kids take turns starting and stopping the singing of the song.
- When the song stops, the kids all have to sit.
- The one who doesn’t find a chair to sit in before they are all full will be out.
- Continue on with additional rounds until there is a winner, decided as the student out of the last two who gets a seat.
You can add extra fun to the game by calling on one student who is still "in" to say the next word from the song on the spot. If the selected student forgets or makes a mistake, they are out too!
Song 1: Helping Verbs (Jingle Bells)
This helping verbs song should be sung to the tune of Jingle Bells.
There are 23,
Am is are was and were
Being been and be
Have has had,
do does did
Shall will should and would
There are five more helping verbs
May might must can could
Song 1: Linking Verbs (London Bridge)
Linking verbs are a specific type of helping verb. This linking verbs song should be sung to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down.
Be am is are was were been
Has have had
Do does did
Can could shall should will would may
Might must being
Helping Verbs Singing Contest
The same songs (above) that can be used for musical chairs could also be used for an in-class singing/recitation contest. Make it clear to the students that the contest is about the content of the song, not their singing ability. Preparation
Prepare lyrics sheets for the song(s) you’ll be using. Distribute them to the class and have the students practice as a group several times, letting them know that the goal will be for each of them to sing or recite the song in front of the class on their own. You may also want to break the class into groups and have students practice in front of a small group before starting the game.
Let students choose if they prefer to sing the tune or recite it as if it is a poem.
- Get the game started with you as the singer for the first round.
- Call on individual students to sing or recite the song in front of the class.
- Each child who is able to sing or recite the song correctly receives a gold star or other prize.
Consider allowing each student who doesn’t get the song correct the first time to try a second time.
Halloween Helping Verbs Haunted Artwork Game
This game is a fun, seasonal activity related to helping verbs. It is a great way to reinforce students' knowledge of helping verbs after they have learned what they are.
This is an ideal activity to use if you’re teaching helping verbs in mid to late October. Start by having students memorize the helping verbs list below. This is a great homework assignment for the evening before the game.
- are, am, is
- were, was
- be, been, being
- do, does, did
- have, has, had
- may, can, might, must
- will, shall
- should, would, could
Set the stage by telling your students a story about how some papers you were grading the other night that had so many helping verbs in them that they are now haunting the classroom. Tell them you need their English and art skills to help you replace the helping verbs with better words so the classroom won’t be haunted.
- Tell students that, while helping verbs are important, when they are overused they can become a problem. Explain that there are often better ways to write descriptively and elegantly without these helping verbs.
- Challenge them to put their writing and art skills to work, so they can help you stop the helping verbs from haunting the classroom.
- Have each student (individually or with a partner, depending on class size) create a tombstone on a posterboard for one of the helping verbs. Alternatively, you could provide them with a haunted house coloring page to use.
- Have them write a sentence using their assigned helping verb on the tombstone or haunted house. Underneath the sentence, have them write "RIP."
- Instruct them to write a new sentence underneath that expresses the same thing without a helping verb.
- Allow them to decorate the sheet however they would like, being sure to highlight the helping verb.
- Post the student art pieces around the classroom, and have each student vote on their favorite. Have them vote for (1) the best artwork and (2) the best helping verb replacement.
- Recognize the students who created the winning entries with ribbons, stickers or a Halloween trinket.
Consider offering prizes for first, second and third place (based on the number of votes); consider including honorable mention as well. This fun seasonal verb game can be incorporated with other Halloween themed learning materials.
Ring the Bell Helping Verb Exercise
This game provides students with an opportunity to win stickers or other small prizes for being the fastest to recognize helping verbs in a story or other content that is being read aloud in class.
Review a list of helping verbs with the students before you start reading. If students are just starting to learn the helping verbs, you may want to write a list of them on the whiteboard or hang up a poster that lists them.
Explain to students that you are going to read them a story (or chapter from a book). Tell them that while they’re listening to the story, they should pay special attention to any helping verbs and ring the bell as soon as they notice one.
- Place bells on student desks or tables, ensuring that there is a bell within easy reach of each student.
- Let the students know that the first person who rings the bell when a helping verb is read aloud will be called on to state what verb was just read.
- The first student to ring the bell and correctly indicate the verb will be able to draw an item from a prize bag filled with stickers or other small goodies.
- Continue until the entire story, or other selected content, has been read aloud in class.
Declare students who have collected the most stickers or other small prizes to be the helping verb champion for that day. If there were some helping verbs in the content that no one caught, review those with the class for instructional and reinforcement purposes.
Helping Verbs Word Search Race
Word search puzzles are a great tool for gamifying language arts education. You could create your own word search activity by hand, but using an online word search generator makes easy work of creating this kind of worksheet. It’s an ideal in-class activity for your young students that you can turn into a game by timing students to see who can be the first to find all the helping verbs.
SuperTeacherWorksheets.com is a user-friendly website that allows visitors to create a word search puzzle quickly, easily and for free. You won’t even have to register in order to create your own printable puzzle using this site.
- Specify the level.
- Choose the header option that you prefer (student name only, or name with additional information).
- Enter whatever title you want to give your puzzle.
- Specify whether or not you want the word list portion (that tells students what words are hidden in the puzzle) to be alphabetized.
- Specify if you want the letters in the puzzle to be capital or lowercase (Capital is recommended for this type of puzzle for maximum readability).
- Enter all of the helping verbs (you can type them individually or copy and paste from your lesson plan), being sure to place a comma or hit enter after each word.
- Click “create worksheet.”
The system will quickly provide you with a word search puzzle that includes all of the helping verbs you entered, hidden within other letters. It will also provide you with an answer key showing where the words are hidden.
Use the word search you created to play a simple worksheet racing game.
- Print the puzzle activity you create and distribute it to each student.
- Let them know that their goal is to quickly find all of the helping verbs hidden in the puzzle, and that there will be prizes for the first, second and third place winners.
- Allow them time to work on the puzzle in class, either individually or with a partner; of course, if you opt for teams, then prizes should be awarded by team.
- Instruct students to bring their paper to your desk as soon as they finish so you can verify their work, lining up behind any students who have already approached your desk.
The prizes could be first, second and third place ribbons or stickers. You could also award ribbons or stickers in a different color or shape for everyone who completes the puzzle, so that all children are recognized.
Fun Game Ideas for Helping Verbs
These fun helping verb games are appropriate exercises and activities for second and third grade students, and can also be used for other grade levels where helping verbs are being taught. If you find these activities to be helpful to your students, consider incorporating other verb activities into your teaching methods. The more creative your verb lesson plans are, the easier it will be to teach your students what they need to know.