Positive Phrasing Activity: Never Say No

This activity is part of my unit on Discipline & Guidance that I use in my Child Development class.  It is a fun and interactive way to teach students how to positively phrase their sentences when directing or talking to children. Let me preface this activity by saying that it works better when you’ve had time to really get to know your students and develop a rapport with them.

Note:  The day before I do this activity I briefly mention that when trying to discipline and/or guide children, we need to use positive phrasing and the two words we try to avoid when doing this are the words “NO” and “NOT” (and any word using that as a contraction).


  • Hard Candy or Starbursts (enough for each student to have 5)


  • Give each student 5 candies and tell them they have the opportunity to either keep their candy if they speak positively or they could lose their candy.
  • Go around the room, one by one and ask each student a yes or no question.  I tell them they must answer it honestly.  By the time I do this activity, I know my students pretty well, plus I try to ask them questions that pertain to them.
  • If they answer the question using a statement with the word “NO” or “NOT” in it, they must give up a candy.  I do not tell them why.
  • Move onto the next student and do the same thing.  If they respond positively, they get to keep their candy and I continue around the room.  Students eventually catch on they must avoid certain words.
  • An example illustrating the above:  “Do you play basketball?”  If they do, they will respond “yes, I do”.  If not, they must figure out a way to answer positively, such as “I play soccer” or “I am a sports free person” or “I do Key Club”.  If they say, “No, I don’t play basketball” or “No, I play soccer”, they they must give up a candy.
  • Once students catch on, they have to think creatively to answer positively, but they do get it.
  • Afterwards, we talk in more depth about how to use positive statements and then I have them practice, by rewriting some negative phrases so they are positive and they may eat whatever candy they have left.
  • Below are some possible questions, but you can create specific questions tailored to your students for more interesting responses.

Possible Questions:

  • Do you play a sport?
  • Do you play a (insert specific sport)?
  • Is broccoli one of your favorite vegetables?
  • Is your birthday in the month of July?
  • Do you wear contacts?
  • Do you alter the color of your hair?
  • Have you ever lied to your parents?
  • Did you get away with lying to your parents?
  • Do you like chocolate?
  • Do you watch (insert a popular show)?
  • Do you text in class?
  • Do you have a tattoo?
  • Do you have anything pierced besides your ear lobes?
  • Do you have a boy/girlfriend?
  • Do you have your driver’s license?
  • Have you ever driven over the speed limit?
  • Is your favorite color ___________?
  • Do you have a sibling?
  • Do your get along with your sibling(s)?
  • Do you live in town?
  • Do you like to take tests?
  • Are you lying about liking to take tests?
  • Are you going to graduate this year?
  • Are you a Pisces?
  • Do you have a pet cat?
  • Do you have a pet dog?
  • Do you like snakes?
  • Do you like spiders?
  • Have you ever served detention?
  • Do you like the cafeteria food?


Image courtesy of Chaiwat at FreeDigitalPhotos


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