1. The first activity is good for the beginning of a lesson to warm students up a bit.

Put you students in pairs. Tell them that they are going to talk about their last weekend. They are going to take a paper (from a bag, a basket, or a hat), When they look at the paper they have to keep it secret! You can set up the whole activity in a way that students get excited about what they are going to find if they unfold the piece of paper. Tell them that if there is a letter “T”, they have to tell the truth, but if they see a blank paper they have to lie about their last weekend. Warn them that if they find a blank paper, they shouldn’t tell each other something that is obviously not true. They should invent a story that could be true. The other student can ask questions to find out any sign of an untrue story.

Of course the two past tenses (simple and continous) should be used.

After a couple of minutes stop them and ask who thinks their partner’s story was fake. You can do it with a show of hands. Then you can reveal the secret: All the papers were blank!

My students always find it very funny and they happily invent stories and in the end they are happy to find out that all the stories have been invented.

2. The second activity is a more direct practice of the difference between the two past tenses.

Put the students in pairs. Each pair is given a card with a simple situation on it. Give them a minute or two to discuss how they are going to act out the situation. Words cannot be used: only miming is allowed.

The pairs act out their situation and the rest of the class tries to guess by answering the question: “What didi they do and what were they doing?”

By clicking here you can see the cards with the situations that I used.