1.1.2 The Verb to Be (Negative) Lesson Plan

be (negative) ESL lesson plans
Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, K-3

In the BrainPOP ESL movie It Isn’t a Flower (L1U1L2), Moby and Ben introduce the negative form of the verb to be.The lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-8, engages students through hands-on games and activities to use the negative form of the verb to be to describe people and things.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Identify the negative form of the verb to be.
  2. Use the present tense negative form of the verb to be in simple sentences.
  3. Ask questions using the negative form of the verb to be in the present tense.



not, isn’t, aren’t


  • Print out images of nouns including people, animals, objects, etc. including, but not limited to the following vocabulary words: flower, hat, pen, telephone.
  • Create flashcards with the different negative forms of to be in present tense. For example: I am not / I’m not; You are not / you’re not / you aren’t, etc.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Being Ben. On a repeated viewing of It Isn’t a Flower (L1U1L2), pause before Ben responds to each of Moby’s mistakes. Students respond to Moby as if they’re Ben, using the negative form of the verb to be. Model for the class. Pause the movie after Moby uses the flower as a pen and Ben says, “No.” Say, “It isn’t a pen.” Then click Play to show students how to check if they’re correct. In another repeated viewing, divide the class into two teams. After a Team 1 member says, “It isn’t a pen,” a Team 2 member gives the alternate way of making the negative: “It’s not a pen.”
  2. To Be or Not to Be. On a repeated viewing of the Grammar from It Isn’t a Flower (L1U1L2), hand out the flashcards with the different forms of to be in the negative. Say each form aloud. Students stand up and hold up their flashcards as they hear the form written on their cards. Then switch and give simple sentences using the negative forms. At the end of this activity, shuffle the flashcards and hand them out again, so students have different forms. Play Facts to Know again, pausing after each form, and have students produce sentences with the form of to be on their cards.
  3. Mystery Student. Model how to play this game by telling students you are thinking about someone in the classroom. Provide clues one at a time using the negative form of the verb to be. Rather than describe what someone is like, say what she or he is NOT like. With each new clue, students are eliminated. For example: The student isn’t a boy. She’s not tall.  After each clue, students each make one guess. Continue giving clues until someone guesses correctly. That person now chooses a new “mystery classmate” and provides clues to the class.
  4. 20 Questions. Divide the class into pairs. Using a paper clip, attach an image to each student’s back without that student seeing. Partners take turns asking and answering questions to figure out who or what the picture is. Example: Student 1 is a flower and Student 2 is a hat. Student 1 asks “Am I a boy?” Student 2 says “You aren’t a boy.” Student 2 asks “Am I a flower?” and Student 1 says, “You aren’t a flower.”

Hi, I'm Ben!