5 Activities to Teach “Not”

Teaching the concept “not” in speech therapy is a common target in my room.

Little ones start responding to “no” within the first year, no doubt because of the tone and facial expression associated with it. But “not?” That’s a tougher one. While adding “not” changes the entire meaning of a sentence, my students tend to either treat it as a tiny, inconsequential part of the sentence or seem not to catch its implications.

These five easy to implement therapy activities will get them going!

  • That’s not it.  Grab a deck of cards, any kind of cards; in fact pictures are usually better than numbers.  Have the child choose one card to look at and remember (unlike magic tricks, you’ll want to look too until they have the hang of this).  Shuffle it back into the deck. Now, simply keep turning cards over, saying “That’s NOT it. That’s NOT it.” and continue until you find it.
  • Get to know me. This is a fun, anytime activity but particularly good at the beginning of the year. Make a quick deck of index cards or list of questions that you can ask each kiddo in the group. For example, “Do You have a brother?” Go around the group and have each child answer, “I have a brother” or “I do NOT have a brother.” Be sure to put some silly questions in there that guarantee “not” answers like “Do you have a pet zebra?”
  • Go Fish. This classic game that I know you’re already using with your artic kids is just as good for addressing negation.  “Do you have a robot?” “No, I do NOT have a robot. Go Fish.”  I’d suggest not allowing them to fall into contractions (don’t) until they really have a grasp of the concept.
  • Musical Chairs. If you have a group and can tolerate some rowdiness, go old school! In this game, you put out one less chair than the number of children playing (you can also use carpet squares and have students stand rather than sit on them). Play a song for a few seconds while the students walk around the chairs/squares. When the music stops, everyone scrambles for a place. The kiddo who does NOT have a space, is out.
  • Guess Who. Oh, how I love this game! I have the original on my shelf (my favorite) and was delighted when Target released it again, in addition to several of the newer variations. It’s hard! At least it’s hard for a lot of my students when we start. You ask questions to whittle down choices of who the mystery person might be.  Often I need to help them with the idea that “My person does NOT have white hair” means anyone with white hair gets turned down.  A quick adaptation is to have the student look at their board while you hold a mystery card (rather than having a race to see who can guess first). This allows you to check their work while they get the concepts down.

If you are looking for more ideas to teach “not” as well as attributes, take a look at my Seasonal Attributes games. My students love them! If you have other ideas for teaching “not” in speech, share them with us below.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Dana

    Love the therapy ideas, will keep those in mind for the start of the school year!

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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.