Ideas for Teaching Opposites to Toddlers

Written by melissa gagnon
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Ideas for Teaching Opposites to Toddlers
(Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Toddlers learn through playing. Games, toys and activities that teach the concept of opposites are good for toddlers to begin to understand what an opposite is. Although the concept of opposites can be difficult for a toddler to comprehend because it's an abstract concept, using concrete examples make it easier for teachers to present the idea.

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Toddlers love games. Have your toddler preform actions, then you do the opposite. For example, if they sit down, you stand up, if they walk forward, you walk backward. Games such as "Red Light, Green Light" and "Mother May I" can teach the concepts of stop and go, as well as forward and backward. You may also play a matching game using opposites flashcards. Have your toddler match happy and sad, hot and cold, big and small, and up and down. They can pair the flashcards as they find the set of opposites.


Toddler-friendly crafts that teach opposites must be kept quick and simple. Make a happy and sad collage by providing your toddler with pictures of happy faces and sad faces. Have them paste sad faces on one side and a happy face on the other. You can also make a night and day picture with toddlers. Paint a sunny daytime sky and label it "day" and then paint a nighttime sky with stars and the moon and label it "night".


You probably have many toys at home that you can use to teach opposites. Find a small teddy bear ad a big one and 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, you can teach your toddler in and out, over and under, as well as up and down. There are special puzzles that have two pieces, each piece representing an opposite concept. The toddler must match each piece with its opposite partner.


There are many books available that teach opposites. Choose books that are simple, and have large, bright pictures and short sentences. You can also choose to make your own books. Staple or tie together some thick construction paper and have your toddler glue pictures on each page. You can write the name of the picture under each one. Put opposites across from each other on the page. Concepts that can be easily pictured in a homemade book include: hot and cold, sunny and rainy, big and small, and sad and happy. Make black and white art with your toddler, using paint or chalk and talk about how black absorbs light and white reflects it.

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