Children begin to learn opposites very early on; from the very first time they taste something yucky, they are learning the difference between things that taste good and things that do not. You can help your toddler expand on this early understanding with a variety of games, crafts and other activities.
Arts & Crafts
Craft time provides a multitude of opportunities to learn about opposites. Have your child create a snowman scene with a cotton ball snowman and rough white snow made by gluing white sand along the bottom of the picture. Have her feel the difference between the soft snowman and the rough snow in her picture. While letting your child explore the slimy texture of finger paints, see if she can paint happy faces and sad faces -- help her out by showing her how to draw an upturned and down-turned mouth. You can help her draw or paint pictures of night and day, or summer and winter. Create a collage of happy and sad, summer and winter, or soft things and hard things with pictures from magazines, newspapers and flyers. Cut these out ahead of time and then have your child sort out the opposites. Glue happy faces, summer things or soft things on one side of the collage and the opposites on the other.
Help your toddler discover the difference between fast and slow with tortoise and hare races. Explain that hares move very quickly and have a race across the playroom or backyard. Next, tell her that tortoises move very slowly and race as slow as possible instead – the last person across the finish line wins! Play a match up game to learn about opposites. Draw or glue a variety of opposites pictures on card stock. For example, draw a porcupine on one card and a fluffy cat on another; sunshine and snowflakes, and lemons and oranges. Mix all the cards and lay them all on the table or floor in front of your child. Help her match up the opposite pictures.
There are all different types of opposites for toddlers to explore with through sight, taste and touch. At snack time, help her explore different tastes, like bitter and sweet with lemon slices and strawberries. To learn about opposites through sight and touch, present your toddler with a variety of bowls filled with items, such as feathers and stones, and cotton balls and pine cones. First, she can compare the differences in how the items look and then in how they feel. Help your toddler learn about things that sink and float at bath time by placing different toys in the bathtub to see what happens.
Help your toddler learn to distinguish up from down, and fast from slow with a variety of movement activities. For young toddlers, start with a simple “arms up - arms down” activity. Put your arms above your head and say, "Arms up!" Have her imitate your movement. Put your arms down by your sides, say, "Arms down," and have her imitate your movements again. Kids love playing in drawers and cupboards, so use their fascination to teach them about opposites. Open a drawer or cupboard and say, “Open.” Close it and say, “Close.” See if she can repeat your words as she opens and closes the drawer, too.