Looking into a Crystal Ball: Strategies for Teaching Future Tense

Whether your students celebrate the new year on January 1 or during the Lunar New Year, the new year is a great time to talk to students about the future tense. When using the future tense, students can pretend as if they have a crystal ball and are looking directly into the future. After all, when using the future tense students are predicting the future and saying "what will happen."

To make a discussion of the future tense more exciting for students, you may want to set up your own crystal ball. You can purchase an inexpensive crystal ball online or make your own crystal ball using a glass bowl, gelatin, and paint. As you talk about the future tense, students can take turns coming to the front of the class and imagining what they see in the crystal ball.

When you start teaching the future tense, you want to focus on two main words/phrases: "going to" and "will.

In an introductory activity, you may want to focus on "You will" and "You are going."

You will +verb
You are going +infinitive


The age of the students that you teach will dictate the topics you choose to talk about. 


For younger students, when you look into the crystal ball you may want to talk about:

  • pets
  • fun activities
  • silly scenarios
  • parents
  • vacations
  • grades and school performance
  • growing

For older students, when you look into the crystal ball you may want to talk about:

  • money
  • career
  • love
  • family
  • crazy life changes
  • body/health

You can have students in the class practice writing fortunes that they can read as they look into the crystal ball. For example, students may write out the following fortunes:

  • You will meet the love of your life.
  • You will grow an entire foot.
  • You will get a new job.
  • You will become a pop star.
  • You are going to make a new friend.
  • You are going to join the basketball team.
  • You are going to win a million dollars.
  • You are going to find a cure for cancer.

Students will enjoy coming up with silly predictions for one another. From there, you can turn the activity into something more serious by having student write goals related to what they actually hope they will accomplish or will see happen in the new year. 

I   will + verb
I am going + infinitive

Challenge students to think about goals related to their personal relationships, habits they want to develop or break, school performance, and things they always wish they had done, but have not had the chance to do yet.
Some sample goals may include:
  • I will be nicer to people.
  • I will go skydiving.
  • I will get married.
  • I am going to get straight As.
  • I am going to make a new friend.
  • I am going to stop biting my nails.

Feel free to share your own goals with students to help them get to know you a little better and serve as a model for the types of goals they should be writing. Consider the age of your students when choosing which goals to share.

Looking into our crystal ball, we can tell that your students are going to master the future tense this year and you will be very happy.

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