Opposites Theme for Preschool

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Opposites! There are so many to talk to the children about! Up, down, sit, stand, fast, slow, hot, cold--and so many more! This page is filled with preschool lesson plans and ideas for all areas of your classroom.

Let the Theme Planning Begin!

You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your theme or click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.

Art Activities 

Block Area

Circle Time Activities 

Cooking Recipes

Dramatic Play Ideas 

Easel Ideas

Gross Motor Games

Library and Literacy

Math And Manipulatives

Music and Movement

Sand and Water Table 

Science Activities

Writing Activities

Click here for the Giant Teeny Tiny Theme--a great supplement to this theme!

Opposites Theme Art

Dark and Light Collage

Materials Needed: LOTS of scrap construction paper separated into two piles-dark colors and light colors, glue or glue sticks, white paper

The children use the scrap paper to make a collage or picture. Discuss the colors they choose. Is that dark or light?

Happy/Sad Faces

Materials Needed: Pre-cut large circles (2 per child), wiggly eyes, glue, miscellaneous arts and crafts supplies, markers.

The children glue wiggly eyes on each circle and then draw a smile on one and a frown on another. (Pre-print the smiles and frowns for the children to trace if needed).

The children decorate each face. Discuss with them things that make them happy or sad.

When dry, staple each child's happy and sad faces together (back to back) and hang from the ceiling!

Mirror Opposites

Materials Needed: Variety of colors of tempera paint (slightly watered down), pipettes (eye droppers), white paper

Show the children how to drop the paint on just one half of the paper. Fold the unpainted side onto the painted side and have the children press with their hands and then open. They will see a mirror opposite of their design!

Helpful Hint: We have found that some children just can't help dropping the paint on the entire paper! You may need to fold the paper in half yourself so that the children only have half the paper to work with to begin with.

Day and Night

Materials needed: White paper with a thick black line drawn down the middle (from top to bottom).

Talk about the opposite of day and night. Encourage the children to draw a picture, or items, on the left that they would see during the daytime (sun, birds, etc.) and things they would see during the nighttime on the right (moon, stars, nocturnal animals!).

Opposite Textures

Materials Needed: One egg carton for each child, opposite texture items for each egg cup section such as cotton balls, sand paper, velvet, velcro, corduroy, felt, feathers, etc.), glue

The children glue one item in each egg cup section. Discuss the textures and the opposites--rough, smooth, soft, hard, etc.

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Opposites Theme Block Center Ideas

Fill and Empty, High and Low, Wide and Narrow--Let's Go!

Materials: Add dumptrucks or boxes to carry the blocks in your center this week. Encourage the children to use opposites to move and build such as:

Fill the truck (or box) and empty it.

Build a wide road and a narrow road.

Build a high building or wall and a low building or wall.

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Themed Circle Time Activities

Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your Opposites Theme!

Paper Cup Puppet

Materials Needed: A pre-made puppet made from a paper cup and a large craft stick (tongue depressor size). Glue wiggly eyes on the top of the stick and add a face, make a hat...be creative! Cut a slice in the bottom of the cup that the stick will fit into.

Hold the cup at circle time and tell the children you have a friend who is going to teach them about Opposites! The puppets name is UP (or some other name!).

"Up is a little shy. He is IN the cup. How can we get to see him? Right....he needs to come OUT (opposite of up!). Let's call him: "Up! Up! Come OUT!"

Push the stick up for the children to meet him.

Use your puppet to talk about an adventure your puppet has had. Such as he walked to the park and when he go there, he ran in the leaves. He then went to the top of the slide and then slid to the bottom

Extension: Have cups, sticks, markers, glue and wiggly eyes at the art table for the children to make their own Up puppet!

Act out the Actions

Materials: Have cards with words and pictures for the children to act out, such as:

A child jumping UP and a child squatting DOWN.

A big square and a small square.

Make up more!

Show the children the cards discuss them. Hand each child a card and have them find the friend who has the opposite of their card.

You may need to do this one child at a time at first before having the entire group do this at once. It will give them more practice understanding each action.

Variation: Write down actions on pieces of paper and place them in a box or decorative bag. Each child has a turn reaching in the bag to choose an action for the group to act out.

Clap hands (encourage them to clap fast then slow; with their hands high and then low)

Reach your arms-- up and then down, right and then left

Jump--fast and slow; high and low

Make up many of them.

More or Less

Materials Needed: Any item that you have a lot of (crayons, marbles, beads, etc.). Give each child a turn to do this.

Have a child reach in the bowl to take a handful of items. The child then counts them.

You take out a handful and count together with the group.

Ask, "Do you have more or less than I do?"

Hot and Cold

Materials needed: pictures of items that are hot and cold. Put velcro on the back. Give each child one card.

On a flannel board, place the word HOT on one side and COLD on the other side.

Each child takes a turn placing their card on the correct side of the board.

EXTENSION: Place the board in your library area for the children to continue the sorting on their own or to make up their own stories using the pictures.

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Snack Recipe Ides to Cook Up for Your Opposites Theme!

Snack Recipe Ideas to Cook Up for Your Opposites Theme!

Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific Space theme questions while making these fun snacks!

Sweet and Sour

Provide a variety of sweet and sour foods such as lemons/limes; sweet and sour apples; sweet and sour oranges; a pear and a kiwi.

Help them to identify sweet and sour.

Hot and Cold Drink

Make hot cocoa for the children (ok, well WARM) and then discuss the temperature (warm). Add COLD whipped cream!

O is for Opposite and OATMEAL!

Oatmeal Pancakes

Have the children help you to measure and mix the ingredients:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

Cook and enjoy!

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Opposites Theme Ideas to Transform Your Dramatic Play Area!

Big and Small Store

Set up a pretend store in your dramatic play area with different sizes of shoes, hats and clothes for children to wear and try.

Thank you Ana of Alameda, CA for this dramatic play idea!

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Theme Ideas for Your Easel--

More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!)

Black and White Painting

Materials Needed: white paper, brushes, black and white glue

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Themed Large Group Games that help the children build their muscles while they have fun together!


Teach the children how to move the parachute up, down, left, right, fast, slow.

Add foam balls or other items as you do this!

If you don't have a parachute, you can find them pretty inexpensively on Amazon.  Below is the 10' parachute.  You can also find 6' and 12', depending on how many children are in your group.  We have 16, so we go with a 12' parachute.

Movement Game Boxes

Cover two boxes with white paper to make large dice shapes.

On the 6 sides of one box, place movements--up, down, in, out, fast, slow

On the 6 sides of the other box, write action words--crawl, jump, walk, run, roll, hop

The children roll the boxes and do the activity that comes up (jump, fast).

For in and out, have an carpet square in the room for them to step into or out of; you could also tape of an area.

Ride the Bus

Preschool children love any type of game you can come up with that includes riding "a bus"!

Line chairs up in twos or threes having one chair for each child.

You sit in a chair in the front.

Say a word and the child needs to say the opposite (their friends can help!) to get on the bus.

Once they are all in the bus, go on a pretend adventure! Be sure to drive your bus on a bumpy and a smooth road, go up and down a hill, etc!

Obstacle Course

Set up a course that uses opposite actions right after each other. Encourage them to say what they are doing as they do it.

Go OVER the rope.

Go UNDER the chair.

Go IN the box.

Go OUT of the box.


Red Light, Green Light

Play this game to teach them Stop and Go.

Use a stop sign and a go sign!

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Themed Ideas for Your Library

Book Suggestions for the Library

Big Dog...Little Dog (Beginner Books(R)) by P.D. Eastman

Bow-Wow Attracts Opposites by Mark Newgarden

Exactly the Oppositeby Tana Hoban

Olivia's Opposites by Ian Falconer

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (I Can Read It All by Myself) by Dr. Seuss

Opposites with Oswald by Lauryn Silverhardt

Opposites/Los Contrarios (Bilingual First Books) (Spanish Edition) by Clare Beaton

Opposites by Sandra Boynton

The Foot Book: Dr. Seuss's Wacky Book of Opposites by Dr. Seuss Becca S from Augusta, GA recomends following the reading of this storry with doing the Hokey Pokey to reinforce right and left. Thanks, Becca!

What's Up, Duck?: A Book of Opposites (Duck & Goose) by Tad Hills

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Math and Manipulatives Activities to help your preschoolers develop their math skills and those small muscles in their hands!

Here or There

Materials Needed: 2 cups or bowls and one toy that fits under the cup or bowl.

This is the cup game! Place a toy under one bowl, move the bowls around and ask "Is the toy HERE or THERE" pointing to each cup or bowl.

Keep this at the manipulative or game table for the children to use throughout the day.

More or Less

Materials needed: 2 bowls, index cards with numbers on them, items to sort (beads, rocks, etc.)

Place number cards in a pile. Children choose 1 card and count that many of items in the first bowl. They choose a second card and count that number of items into the second bowl.

Then ask which bowl has more or which bowl has less?

In and Out

This is a variation of the More or Less activity above.

Instead of using index cards, encourage the children to put 2 itemsIN the bowl, then take 1 item OUT.

Big and Small Pattern Beads

Materials Needed: Beads (small and large) and lacing strings.

The children string the beads in a large, small, large, small pattern.

Texture Sorting

Materials Needed: Items of opposite textures such as sand paper, cotton balls, etc.

Place all the items in a bag. The children sort the items into 2 bowls or boxes by the textures: Soft and Rough

Big and Small Structures

Materials Needed: Dried peas (that have been soaked overnight) and toothpicks.

Place these items on the table for the children to make big and small structures with.

Place them on a piece of paper with their name on the paper.

Over the next day or so, the peas will dry and harden making the structure VERY sturdy!

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Opposites Theme Music and Movement Activities and Ideas to get your preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!

If You're Happy and You Know It

If you're happy and you know it, show a smile!

If you're happy and you know it, show a smile!

If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it.

If you're happy and you know it, show a smile!

If you're sad and you know it, show a frown....etc.

Make up more opposite verses to go along with feelings (tired, excited,) or with actions (jump, sit, etc.)

Grand Old Duke of York

This is a great song to act out during this theme!

The grand old duke of York,

He had 10 thousand men;

He marched them to the top of a hill,

And he marched them down again.

And when they're up they're up

And when they're down, they're down.

And when they're only halfway up,

They're neither up nor down!

Open, Shut Them

This finger play can be acted out at circle time, before snack, before any activity!

Open, shut them. Open, shut them.

Give a little clap.

Open, shut them. Open, shut them.

Place them in your lap.

Creep them, crawl them. Creep them, crawl them.

Right up to your chin.

Open up your little mouth, but do not let them in!

Bean Bag Movement

Use bean bags to practice your theme! Place the bean bag on your head, now on your toes.

Place it on your elbow now on your nose.

Have fun with this! Play music. When they place the bean bag on their head, have them walk around with it on their head until the music stops and then have them place it on their toes and put the music back on!

Here is my favorite Bean Bag CD!

Hokey Pokey!

Classic song to go along with this theme! To teach right from left, place a sticker on each child's right hand and right foot! Becca S., from Augusta, GA recommends doing the Hokey Pokey as a follow up to

The Foot Book: Dr. Seuss's Wacky Book of Opposites

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Opposites Activities for Your Sand and Water Table!

Absorb or Not?

Materials: Add items to the table--some that are absorbent (paper towel, cotton balls, fabric, etc.) and others that are not (rubber, metal, etc.) and have the children guess if the water will be soaked up by each item or not.

Sink or Float

As with the activity above, bring many items to the water table--some that will sink and some that will float.

Have the children guess if it will sink or float before they drop each item in.

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Opposites Theme Science Activities for your Preschool Scientists in Training!

Stop and Go!

Fill about 5 cups with different scents (vanilla, vinegar, spices, etc.---be sure to check for classroom allergies first!).

Cover with a paper towel and rubber band or wax paper with holes poked on the top and a rubber band.

When you say "Go" the should smell a cup, then you say "Stop". Ask them to describe it.

When done with the cups, ask them which they liked more, less, etc.

Wet and Dry

Materials: Plastic tubs, cornstarch and water.

When you mix equal amounts, this stuff is wicked awesome! It is dry when you touch it and it is in the tub. However, once you pick up a handful, your body heat "melts" it and it drips through your fingers!

North, South, Attract, Repel

Bring magnet wands and other magnets to the science table. Show them how each magnet has a north and south pole and that one side will attract metal and make it stick and the other side will repel metal and push it away!

You may want to introduce this as circle time when you have all of their attention!

Heavy or Light

Provide a balance scale and items of different weight. Show the children how the side that is heavier will be down and the side that is lighter will be up when they place items in each side.

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Writing Activity Ideas for Your Preschool Classroom's Opposites Theme!

Wet and Dry Name Practice

Materials Needed: chalk, a shallow tray of water and dark paper

The children write their names with the chalk. Encourage them to try printing their name with dry chalk and then with chalk dipped in water. It is fun, they will love this!

Off and On Writing

Provide erase boards and low-odor dry erase markers for the children to practice their names.

VARIATION: Print their names on name cards and laminate them. They can use the dry erase markers to write ON their printed name and then wipe it OFF.

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Click here for the Giant Teeny Tiny Theme--a great supplement to this theme!

Go to the MAIN THEMES Page

Go to Preschool Plan It's HOME PAGE

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