Teaching Opposites to Children

Teaching opposites is an ideal way to help improve your child's ability to communicate. The addition of descriptive words to their vocabulary will greatly transform the level of detail your child can convey - 'soft bunny', 'big teddy' or 'little boy'.

You can teach opposites to your child through a range of simple activities at home. See our List of Opposites for ideas.

Teaching Opposites with Games

Preschoolers love games, and using games to teach opposites is a terrific way for your child to learn new vocabulary.

  • Flashcards: Create or buy index cards with pictures of opposites on them. Have your toddler match sets of opposite flashcards - happy and sad, hot and cold, big and small, up and down and so on. They can pair the flashcards as they find the set of opposites.
  • Acting Opposites: Have your toddler perform actions, and then you do the opposite. For example, if they sit down, you stand up, if they walk forward, you walk backward. Once your child is familiar with the game, you perform the action first, and have your toddler do the opposite.
  • The Opposites Hat: Cut out several pieces of paper. On each one write an action such as:

    stomp your feet loudly,
    reach up to the sky,
    whisper your name,
    stand up,
    jump up and down fast,
    and so on.

    Put the pieces of papers into a hat or box and have a child pick one, and read what it says. The child will do that action and then have to do the opposite.

Teaching Opposites with Crafts

Toddler-friendly crafts that teach opposites must be kept quick and simple. Be prepared for a small mess - nothing that can't be tidied later!

  • Collages: Using magazines, newspapers and catalogs, provide your toddler with many 'opposite' images. For example, happy faces and sad faces, night time and day time images. Paste the sad faces on one side of your collage, and happy faces on the other.
  • Faces: Using magazines, newspapers and catalogs, provide your toddler with a range of facial features. Your child can then glue the features on paper plates to create happy and sad faces.
  • Books: Have your toddler glue 'opposite' pictures (using magazines, newspapers and catalogs) within of an exercise book or a stapled set of papers. Write out the opposite words under each picture. Easy concepts for this activity are: hot and cold, sunny and rainy, big and small, and sad and happy.
  • OR, on the bottom of each double page spread, write the pair of opposite words first. Then, with your toddler, choose a picture to draw or stick on each page that represents each word (e.g., a big car and a little car, a slow snail and a fast puppy). See our List of Opposites for ideas to fill your book!

Teaching Opposites with Toys

Toys are something you're sure to already have plenty of... so creating opposite games with toys is only limited by your imagination!

  • Find a small teddy bear and a big one to teach big and small or baby and adult.
  • Using balls of different sizes and weights you can teach big and small, heavy and light, and float or sink.
  • Using a ball and a bucket, cup or box, teach your toddler in and out, over and under, as well as up and down.
  • Some toys have volume - for example toy dog, trucks, dolls. Use these toys to teach loud and quiet.

Teaching Opposites with Movement

Here are a few simple activities that you can do with your toddler indoors or out. Once familiar with the game, ask your child to do the opposite. For example, if you reach up, your toddler will reach down.

  • Reach high to the sky and low to the ground
  • Take a big step and a little step
  • Clap your hands loudly and quietly
  • Run fast, then slow (toddler’s pace)
  • Happy face, sad face
  • Fill a cup with water, empty cup
  • Open lid, shut lid
  • Sit down, stand up
  • Turn to the right and then left
  • Jump up and crouch down.

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