Making lists of items in a particular category is a popular mentally stimulating activity. In this activity, however, the challenge is to decide whether or not an item belongs on the list.


Begin by explaining the purpose of the activity and giving an example. “We are going to decide if an item belongs on our list or if it doesn’t. For example, is an elephant a farm animal?

  •  Draw two columns on a whiteboard. Put a title of the category at the top of one of the columns. Write NOT at the top of the other column.
  • Using the suggested lists in the PDF attachment (or make up your own list), ask the group whether an item belongs under the category or under the NOT column. Randomly select items from the lists.
  • Write the answers on the whiteboard under the appropriate column.
  • Pause and ask questions as you go along. For example,  “Did you live on a farm?”
  • Once the group has completed one list, start a new category. The possibilities are endless, and the lists can be as simple or as challenging as you want. Tip: To make this game more meaningful, select categories that reflect the participants' past interests and backgrounds.
Group Size Time of Day Duration Acuity Level
1 on 1
Small (2 - 4)
Medium (5 - 8)
Large (8+)
As Needed Long-term Care
Memory Care
Facilitator Gender
Any Coed
Wellness Domains

Social, Intellectual

  • Whiteboard
  • Dry erase marker
Supporting Research  

Good For



Covid-19 Seat participants six feet apart. Moderate Dementia Use simple categories such as things you eat or drink, animals, or furniture. Include only familiar words on the list. Or bring in actual items as appropriate, to use as props.

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