Past Continuous Prompts: What were you doing…?

Here is a nice little game to practice past simple, past continuous, and the combination of past continuous and past simple. This game is meant for practice or review, but also doubles as a fun ice breaker.

The downloadable resource comes with an online and offline version. Let’s start with the offline version. Print and cut out the cards from the PDF below:

There are two types of cards: “MOMENT” cards which indicate a moment in the past and “TENSE” cards which indicate which tense(s) to use. Here are two ways to use these cards:

Simple version:

For this variant, do not use the “TENSE” cards. Shuffle the “MOMENT” cards and place them in the center of the table face down so everyone can reach. Choose a student to start the game. They draw the first card and read it out loud.

For example: “on your summer holidays, five years ago”

Then, they ask a question to the other students based on the content of the card. “What do you think I was doing on my summer holidays, five years ago?” You can leave the choice of response completely open or limit them to past simple or past continuous responses depending on their level or what you are studying.

In turns, the other students make some guesses or propose some ideas to respond orally to the question posed by the first student. I recommend that you be strict with your students with the tense they use in their responses. If it is a past simple question, it should have a past simple response, etc.

Examples of possible responses for:
“What do you think I was doing on my summer holidays, five years ago?”

I think you went surfing in Hawaii.

You probably got stuck at the airport in London and found love.

I think you were staying with your aunt in Indiana visiting family.


Then, the student who asked the question in the first place chooses their favorite response (based on their choice: the closest to the truth, the funniest, the weirdest, etc.) and this person earns two points (keep track of the score on the board). The question asker also chooses their least favorite response and that person loses a point. Finally, they can say (if they want) what they were really doing during that time or at that moment.

Go clockwise around the table and have the next student draw a card and read it out loud, etc… Play as many rounds as you’d like. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.

For online classes:

We have created another PDF and set of JPGs that regroup the game into landscape format so you can play the game more easily with your online lessons. There is less freedom because the choice of tense is already constrained, but it’s much easier to share with your students.

Advanced version:

The game is exactly like the simple version except for this time, shuffle the “TENSE” cards and put them in a pile face down next to the “MOMENT” cards.

Each turn, a student draws a “MOMENT” and a “TENSE” card. This card will constrain the other students’ responses to the drawn tense(s).

There you go, simple, but with a large potential for laughter and creativity if your students let themselves open up a bit.


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Past Continuous Prompts: What were you doing…?”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Ian Kime

Ian Kime

I have been teaching English abroad since receiving my CELTA certificate in Poland in 2018. I enjoy tracking my individual students’ development but love having lessons with big groups! Now that I teach online, I am accompanied by my sidekicks Olaf, Mała, Pirate and Bandit on a regular basis.

It takes a team of 13 to create and produce this material. In order for that to continue, please think about purchasing your own subscription to ESL Expertz and encourage your colleagues to do the same. We appreciate your confidence and support!

Featured now

Newest activities