Verb Tenses: Lots of Practice
All three stories were written in part to give students practice seeing multiple verb tenses. The plot of the stories requires characters to discuss what happened, what is happening, and what will happen. In Manus Simii, the characters also discuss what MUST happen as well. (Passive periphrastic is explained in the introduction.) Different verb tenses occur naturally and frequently in all three stories.
I had been frustrated that textbook stories attempting to introduce different verb tenses too often result in the tense being used in an artificial manner. The imperfect tense is the best example of this phenomenon. To introduce the tense, many textbooks have several stories that are primarily told in the imperfect tense My experience has been that students reading these stories tend to flip to the perfect tense because they sense that even though the sentence reads "the farmer was carrying the grain," it sounds better if the farmer carried the grain." The future tense gets even less rotation. After one chapter where the future tense is the focus, it drops out almost completely. I felt students would have a greater grasp of verb tenses if they had a compelling story where multiple tenses were an inherent part of the story rather than artificially imposed on the story.
Therefore, before reading these stories, students should be familiar with the present, imperfect, future, and perfect indicative tenses as well as the imperative mood. Knowledge of passive forms is not necessary. However, if your students have difficulty determining the difficulty determining the tense in isolation - in other words - can't remember the difference between necabam, necavi and necabo, I think you will be surprised by the degree of fluidity with which they will be able to read multiple tenses. Context with graphic support of the action helps a great deal.
To review verb tense, use the verbs in the story in a phrase or with an adverb that helps students to identify the tense. These words may be: cras, mox, subito, iterum, postridie, subito, heri, numquam etc. there are many such adverbs in the vocabulary lists in the Google drive. The following activities can be used to construct short phrases that have different verb tenses prior to reading the story. The teacher's guide will contain reproducible material that will give students practice with this concept as well if you prefer not to write your own.
Around the Empire
Hollywood Squares (Write sentences to read and have students identify the tense for "contestants" to answer)
Pronouns: Sprinkled Liberally
The other common denominator here is practice with pronouns. There are many - I/me, you, we/us and you all. Dative and accusative cases are used the most frequently. In addition, both hic and ille are used regularly both to mean "this" and "that" respectively but also to mean "he, she and it." Iste is used a couple of times in Manus Simii and Tunica Rubra with the negative connotation seen in Cicero. At the end of reading all three stories, students should have a thorough grasp on pronouns. Again, context and graphic support will help students navigate the meaning but they should be exposed to these words ahead of time. All of the above activities can be used to help students practice pronouns. Again, short phrases here are key. It is less useful to have students identify mihi as "Dative indirect object" as it is for them to know that Narra mihi means "Tell me!"