Sep 04

“To Be” Sentence Puzzles

by Hannah Holt »


My five-year-old starts kindergarten tomorrow (sniff, sniff).


He’s a great kid and he’ll be fine. I, on the otherhand, turn into a bowl of melted butter just thinking about him leaving for school. He’s a joy to have around and one of my biggest helpers with these two:

Dahlia Festival Double Trouble

Like many young learners, my five-year-old is experimenting with his expanding vocabulary. English is a tricky language, and those darn irregular verbs like to trip his tongue. So I made a reference chart and a few sentence puzzles to help him remember how the “to be” verbs change around:

To be conjugation

Because the plural verbs are the most consistent, I start by having my son ask the question, “Is there more than one thing I am talking about?” If the answer is yes, then the conjugation is straightforward. If not, we try to pick out the right verb together.

Here are sentence puzzles for theย past tense (click on the link for pdf):

Past tense to be

You’ll see I only made a singular and a plural sentence. You could modify this for other options (like “I” by taping a picture of your child to the puzzle piece and modifying the sentence with a permanent marker).

Here are the present tense puzzles. This is the most complicated tense, so I madeย two more options:




Finally we have the easiest tense of all: future tense.

Future tense to be

Lastly, these puzzles are meant to be an enjoyable activity. If your five-year-old is frustrated or things are getting “tense,” take a break. It’ll be okay. Irregular verbs are tricky. Overtime your child will master it.

  1. Joanna

    LOVE these grammar tips… I could use them in an ESL class. That adorable five-year-old is going to do swell and Double Trouble will surprise you, I am sure, with how they develop this year!

    • Hannah Holt

      I hadn’t thought about ESL. Sometimes English is hard enough even for native speakers. :)

  2. Kirsten

    These are fantastic, Hannah! We still struggle with past tense verbs. My 6-year-old likes to say “sawn” for “saw.” Ach.

    And you WILL be ok with him gone. It just makes the time you have together more precious.

    • Hannah Holt

      The first day went without a hitch. He loves it just like I thought he would. All the irregular verbs are tricky. Maybe I’ll make more later. I wanted to start with the most common one.

  3. Evelyn

    You are so innovative! You are going to share this with E’s kindergarten teacher, right? I would have loved to have a parent bring these in!!

    • Hannah Holt

      Thanks for the suggestion. I did. :)

  4. julie rowan zoch

    I want TO BE a raccoon!

  5. Erik - This Kid Reviews Books

    Cool! Perfect! AWESOME!!! Ms. Zoch | will | make an awesome raccoon! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Hannah Holt

      I know what Julie should be for Halloween. :)

  6. Stacy S. Jensen

    Good Luck with kindergarten and Double Trouble. I still don’t know how my mom handled twins. Well, I still don’t know how she handles her twins! I want you all to be Happy! (I’ve spent several hours today revising trying to get the TO BE words out of my manuscript.) My toddler can certainly use these – thank you!

    • Hannah Holt

      Good luck with revisions. I also spend a lot of time avoiding passive verbs, but my son has to walk with English before learning to run. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Vivian Kirkfield

    Hannah…this is fantastic! My grandson will be five in October…just misses the kindergarten cut off in New Hampshire…so he just started kindergarten at his Kindercare center (his mom and dad both work full time). I’m going to share this with his teacher.
    What a great blog you have! I apologize for not visiting more often…hopefully when the move is over and we are settled in. :)

    • Hannah Holt

      Never worry about how often you visit. Life gets busy. I know. Come when you can. You are always welcome. :)

  8. Vivian Kirkfield

    And your sad/happy feeling about your son starting kindergarten is exactly what almost every mom is experiencing.:) :)

  9. Cathy Ballou Mealey


    I struggle with pluperfect subjunctive – can you make one for that as well, please? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Hannah Holt

      Sure thing. German, English, or Neptune. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Tina Cho

    I’m amazed that you do this with your 5 yr old! I can tell he’s going to be smart like his mama!