TA2 present tense copula (am/is/are)

Intervention outline

You will need: 

  • Large SA / S + PP sentence shape code shapes – oval, cloud, semicircle, diamond (is/am)see here. 
  • Pictures/printed text of words to be used during the session if required. 
  • Small figures cards. 
  • Emotions cards. 
  • Objects/toys to sort. 

App settings: present time triangle. 


Intervention steps: 


  1. Check-up vocabulary. Ask the child to  show you happy, sad, angry, scared. Use adjectives the child is most familiar with first. 
  2. Assess awareness of is/am structure using probe assessment or informal assessment, e.g. present child with 10 sentences, some with accurate is/am and others omitting part of the structure, e.g. I cold. Child gives thumbs up/down to show grammatical judgement. If judgement is poor, spend more time on teaching the ruleevery sentence has to have (at least one) blue word and a ‘down arrow’  and raising awareness before focussing on accurate expression.  
  3. SHAPE CODING template Introduce two shapes – who /what like and Subject Adjective coding


4. Select one toy figure and ask the child: “Who is this?” Write their response in the oval, e.g. Ted. Ask the child how Ted feels. Write their response, e.g. happy in the cloud. Say: “Ted happy”. Ask child if that’s a proper sentence. If they have good awareness, the child will say “No”. If poorer awareness, they will say “Yes”. Show the child that to make the sentence perfect, we need to add a blue word and ‘down arrow’ using a ‘helper’ shape, i.e. diamond is. Place these into the Subject + Adjective sentence and say ”Ted is happy” together.  

 5. Repeat with two other toys and adjectives:

6. Introduce the now time triangle and explain that the position of the black/blue arrows must match to make sure people know when the  feelings happen. (This is vital for moving onto the past tense).  

Tell the child that the toys have had a break and are now feeling differently. Mix and match the ovals and clouds to make new sentences starting with now or other present time markers, e.g. at the moment 

t the momen 

7. Ask the child how he/she is feeling. Write I on the oval. Say: ‘I is tired’. Ask child if that’s a proper sentence. If good awareness, child will say “No”. If poor awareness, child will say “Yes”. Show the child that to make it perfect, we need to change the diamond to am. Place this into the sentence and say: ”I am tired”. Act this out. Repeat with other adjectives.  

 8. Repeat all steps using where semicircles. 

9. Production: Ask the child to lay out / find the sentence shapes in the target structure order. Act out a sentence and ask the child how someone feels / where some one is? Praise correct productions. 

If the child omits one of the key elements, explicitly state what is missing. For example, if the child says: ”The man  on the bridge”, lay out the shapes and say: “I heard ‘the man on the bridge,’” pointing at the relevant shapes as you speak.  Indicate the error by saying: “You remembered the oval and semicircle, but don’t forget the diamond word here,” pointing at the gap. Give a forced alternative – is it am or is ? Help the child reformulate using their chosen auxiliary. 

If the child uses all key shapes but the incorrect diamond word, give explicit feedback such as: “You used the oval-diamond-cloud, but I heard ‘X’ in the diamond. That word doesn’t match the time word or the person in the oval.” If the child can’t self-correct, give a forced alternative: “Should it be is or am?” 

10. Reducing shapes: repeat steps 5-7 with fewer and fewer shapes, but then bring back to check responses.  

11. Monitoring: SLT start to make “errors”, get student to spot and correct them 

a. Using shape templates as an aid 

b. Without the templates 

12. Consolidation: 

a. At the end of each session, review sentence patterns covered in previous sessions  

b. Start to mix up sentences to use a range of subjects and copulas consecutively.  

13. Generalisation: Watch video clips/look at photos and ask the student to make a short narrative – telling how people are feeling and where they are. Link with TA1 and describe these people’s actions, e.g. “Dad is in the garden. Dad is happy. Dad is reading a book.” 

Additional Resources