Present Progressive

The use of the present progressive emerges by 3 years of age. For those who need a quick grammar refresher course, the present progressive is ~ing verbs such as "she is running," "he is jumping," or "he is sleeping."

Language Milestones Targeted

Expressive Language

Receptive Language

  • Uses about 200-300 words consistently 
  • Speaks with 3+ word phrases 
  • Uses articles: a, the
  • Uses present progressive, -ing: running 
  • Understands 500 words 


What You Need: The attached picture cards: Present Progressive Cards

How To Play: Print the cards above or open them on a computer, tablet, or any other device.

If you printed the pictures, cut them out. If not, don't worry. First, describe one picture (.e., "he is running" or "the boy is running.") Ask your child to repeat. Do this a few times so your child learns what grammar structures you are looking for. 

Next, show your child a picture and see if he/she can say the sentence without being prompt. For example, show your child a picture of a girl running. If your child says "girl" or "run," say "good job. Girl is running." Wait a few seconds to see if your child will repeat the correct grammatical structure. If your child doesn't repeat it, don't worry. Say the sentence again and move on. Don't force repetitions. It is not recommended at this age!


  • Some children LOVE to act out these action cards. This usually increases interest in participating. 
  • I usually don't like to use flashcards or worksheets for learning under 6 years of age; however, grammar can be an exception. Sometimes children needs lots of repetition. 

Other grammatical structures to target (once your child gets good at present progressive):

  • Use of articles "a" and "the"
  • Pronouns "he" and "she"

House Play

What You Need: A play house/farm and little people/animals. If you don't have a house or farm, don't worry. You can just use the little people/animals.

How To Play: While playing house/farm, have the little objects complete some actions. You, the parent, narrate these actions. At first, you may be doing most of the talking using the present progressive. However, your child is listening and that is a very important step.

After a few times playing house and listening to the present progressive, encourage your child to use the same grammatical structure. Your child may already be repeating your sentences. If this is the case, that's great! If your child is not repeating, ask your child to repeat your present progressive sentences. Ask one or two times max. Don't press it too much. It is not necessary.

The last step is to encourage your child to say the present progressive without any verbal models. To do this, play with your child. When your child describes the action of a little person such as "she sleeps," gently correct your child to yes "she is sleeping." 

After many models of correct grammar, your child will get it. I promise!


  • Don't turn this playing into a quiz or a stressful environment by pressuring your child to repeat too much or by over-correcting too often.
  • By you, the parent, using the present progressive lots while playing with your child, you accelerate the learning process. Keep it natural!

Outside Play

What You Need: Nothing! Instead, think about where you need to be. I suggest playing in a park, going for a walk, or simply playing in the backyard.

How To Play: Throughout the day, you most likely talk to your child in the first person. You talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing. However, you are missing the third person! Exposing children to a variety of grammatical structures is important for grammar development. If your child doesn't hear it, how can he/she learn?

This activity is foolproof and you don't even have to think about it. While outside with your child, talk about what other people or animals are doing. For example, you could comment that "the squirrel is climbing the tree" or "the leaf is falling."  If you are the park with other children, you might say "she is swinging, do you want to swing? "

By simply describing what you see outside, your child is exposed to lots of present progressive sentences and you don't really even have to think about it!


  • Encourage your child to join in and make comments as well.
  • See if your child can repeat your phrases. If he/she can't, don't force it!

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