Teaching Spanish Opposites to Preschoolers
Do you know the opposite of gordo in Spanish? After exploring this guide to Teaching Spanish Opposites to Preschoolers, you’ll know the answer to that (if you don’t already) and much more! Part of the excitement of teaching Spanish to your child is learning (or brushing up on) fun vocabulary like opposites. With knowledge of opposites, your child will be able to describe things in more detail and easily compare two objects or people. They will continue to develop their understanding of concrete concepts like texture, temperature, size, and more. Opposites provide one of the building blocks to success in the four major skills for language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. As determined as you may be to start learning this vocabulary right away, keep in mind that a child does not generally understand the concept of opposites before age 4. Once your little one is making connections in their native language, it’s time to introduce new words from Spanish opposites! ¡Aprendamos los opuestos!
The words in this list are all descriptive adjectives, perfect for use in conjunction with whichever nouns you are teaching your child at the moment. Do remember that Spanish is a gendered language, where the adjectives change depending on the gender of the noun they are describing. You will notice that there are also some that do not change, such as grande and joven. Any adjectives that end in -o will change their ending to -a when in relation to a feminine noun. Here are some examples:
Feminine noun and adjective: La casa pequeña (the small house), la mosca lenta (the slow fly), la bebida fría (the cold drink)
Masculine noun and adjective: El niño pequeño (the little boy), el burro lento (the slow donkey), el té frío (the cold tea)
Gender-neutral adjectives: el libro grande (the big book), la rana grande (the big frog), el horno caliente (the hot oven), la piedra caliente (the hot stone), la chica joven (the young girl), el chico joven (the young boy).
Here is a list of 24 opposite words with a pronunciation guide!
There are lots of potential activities to do with opposites! Mixing up your lessons with movement, crafts, imaginary play, and card games will keep your child fully engaged. Here is a list of great ideas that you can build upon with your own creativity:
- Flashcards are versatile essentials for teaching. Enjoy our exclusive Homeschool Spanish Academy Opposites Flashcards (download below) as a must-have learning tool! Be sure to laminate them for durability. See what else you can do with flashcards here.
- Play “Memory Match” flashcard game: lay all flashcards face down and each player takes turns trying to make a match of opposites. The player with the most matches wins.
- Traditional Go Fish card game: Deal 5 cards to each player. You start by asking, “Do you have the opuesto of viejo (or whichever Spanish word you have)?” The other player looks for the opposite. If they have it, they give it to you and you set out your winning pair face up on the table. If they don’t have the card, they say, “Go Fish!” and you must pull another card from the deck. The winner has the most pairs!
- Space Travel imaginary play: Explain to your child that they will be going to space to find opposites. Place them on a chair in the middle of the room, let them know that the chair is a rocket ship and that they are going up into space. Count to 10 and blast off! Turn out the lights. Once your child is floating in space, give them a flashlight and show them one flashcard. Instruct them to find the opposite flashcard, hidden somewhere in the room. When they find all the opposites, they can sit back down on the chair (the rocket ship!) and head back down to Earth.
- Book of Collages: cut out magazine pictures to reflect the meaning of each new word you’re teaching and glue them down on construction paper. Gather up all the papers and make a book by stapling them three times down the left side.
- Play “I Spy the Opposite”: Start with your child saying “I spy _____” using one of the opposite words (“I spy delgado”). Then you reply, “I spy gordo!” This game is really fun and very effective if you couple it with specific movements, called TPR.
While learning opposites, you can teach your child relevant phrases and vocabulary that helps them express themselves. Here are a few useful phrases you can use with this lesson:
El opuesto – the opposite
¿Qué ves? – What do you see?
Yo veo a _______. – I see _______.
¿Qué es el opuesto de _______? – What’s the opposite of _______?
El opuesto de _______ es _______. – The opposite of _______ is _______.
Here is an example mini-lesson using the questions and answers from above, using a parent and their child:
Parent: ¿Qué ves?
Child: Yo veo a un hombre viejo. (I see an old man.)*
Parent: ¿Qué es el opuesto de viejo?
Child: El opuesto de viejo es joven.
Parent: ¡Muy bien!
First model the conversation above with your child by using a doll or puppet. Then have your child repeat after you a few times. Soon your child will begin to remember how to say the phrases. This lesson will be lots of fun with the Homeschool Spanish Academy Opposites Flashcards.
*If you are not yet working with a collection of nouns, you can substitute the noun with the word “algo,” (ahl-goh) which means “something.” Example: Yo veo algo viejo. (I see something old.)
Condition and Location
The opposites in the list refer to the condition or location of something. If you want to teach a bit more complicated lesson, you can include these phrases using estar:
- Condition (mode of being for a person or thing)
Adjectives: grande, pequeño, limpio, sucio, cerrado, abierto, lento, rápido, mojado, seco, frío, caliente, gordo, delgado, lleno, vacio, joven, viejo
¿Cómo está? – How is it?
¿Cómo está el/la _______? – How is the _______?
Está _______. (Está vacío.) – It is_______. (It is empty.)
El/La _______ está _______. (El hombre está mojado.) – The _______ is _______. (The man is wet.)
- Location (a place or situation occupied):
Adjectives: dentro, fuera, cerca, lejos, arriba, abajo
¿Dónde está? – Where is it?
¿Dónde está el/la _______? – Where is the _______?
Está _______. (Está lejos.) – It is_______. (It is far.)
El/La _______ está _______. (La mujer está arriba.) – The _______ is _______. (The woman is above.)
Learning opposites is super fun for young children. It helps them to better understand their surroundings and to describe in detail what they are experiencing. We hope you are inspired to teach Spanish opposites to your little one by taking advantage of this starter guide. If you would like to have your child practice their new vocabulary with a native speaker from Guatemala, sign up for a free online class today and they’ll start speaking Spanish immediately!