Listen to the adult sharing a picture book with the child.
Ask questions about the pictures. “What happened here?” “Where did he go?” “What did she say?” Ask the child to anticipate what will happen next to elicit (will + verb) or ask a question that requires a negative response. (e.g., “He can’t fly.”) Have the child tell you the story after completing the book, or part of the book to elicit use of a variety of past tense verb forms. Prompt further discussion by asking, “And then what happened?”
The child produces a subset of irregular verbs (i.e., came, fell, broke, sat, and went) because she hears them frequently. The child uses words with –ed to indicate past tense (e.g., called, talked).
Explain that the child may learn some of the irregular past tense words before he learns the pattern of adding –“ed”. It is common for a child to overgeneralize and add –ed to all verbs. Early childhood educators and parents should clarify verb use when the child becomes confused. Do not be critical, just restate the words in the correct way. For example, the child points to the picture in the book and says, “Two mouses ranned away.” The adult can respond, “Yes. Two mice ran away from the cat.”
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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