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Big and Small: Toddler Math Lesson Plan

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 7/12/2012

Even toddlers have a sense of humor! Walk in with huge shoes on or a gigantic jacket to begin toddler your lesson on the concept of big and small. Someone will say, "That's too big!" Let the lesson begin.

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    Toddlers use all their senses to explore the world around them. That’s how they learn. It is an important time of their lives to understand sounds, learn word meanings and develop fine and gross motor skills. As an adult, you should talk to the child as they play, read to them at every opportunity and sing fun songs. The simplest times that we take for granted, like bath time for example, is a learning time for a toddler. These activities will address the use of size words: big / small; big, bigger, biggest; small, smaller, smallest.

    Toddlers use all their senses to explore the world around them. That’s how they learn. It is an important time of their lives to understand sounds, learn word meanings and develop fine and gross motor skills. As an adult, you should talk to the child as they play, read to them at every opportunity and sing fun songs. The simplest times that we take for granted, like bath time for example, is a learning time for a toddler. This lesson addresses the use of size words: big / small; big, bigger, biggest; small, smaller, smallest.

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    Books about Big and Small

    Big Bear, Little Bear by David Bedford41P6KH5W62L. SL500 AA300 

    Little Otter’s Big Journey by David Bedford

    Daisy: The Little Duck With Big Feet by Jane Simmons

    The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood

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    Materials Needed

    Pictures of things that represent big and small (for example: elephant, skyscraper, bird, mouse, hippo, baby, button)

    Items that represent big, bigger, biggest (blocks, buttons, crayons, books, toys)

    Three balls: big, bigger and biggest

    Doll clothes (one set)

    Adult size dress-up clothes (a few items)

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    Let's Dress Up!

    Begin the lesson by getting the attention of your toddlers! Bring in some adult size dress up clothes. Walk in with an over-sized jacket or shoes! If they are laughing or looking at you in a strange way ask them, “What is wrong with what I am wearing?” Hopefully someone will say, “It’s too big!” Then have willing children put on some of the clothes on top of their own. Ask the students what they think. They are all too big.

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    Big, Bigger and Biggest

    Have three different sizes of a similar item. This may be 3 containers, 3 books, 3 toys, 3 dolls, 3 balls or something similar. Discuss with the children which one is the biggest and why. Choose two children to stand with you and ask, “Which one of us is the biggest?”

    Time to Move:

    Use three balls: big, bigger and biggest. Teacher stands in the center of a circle of students and tosses the ball to a student saying, “This is a big ball!” Student tosses it back saying, “This is a big ball.” Continue around the circle till everyone gets a turn. Then do the same with the next ball, “This is a bigger ball!” Finally, do the same with the last ball, “This is the biggest ball!”

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    Small World

    Gather the students around you. Show them the doll clothes and tell them that they are your clothes and you are going to put them on. Someone will say, “No, they are too small!” Ask if someone in the class can wear them. “No, they are too small!”

    Show them pictures of the items that you have (elephant, baby, etc.) Ask if the item is big or small.

    Let’s Move

    Play “Follow the leader” (with the teacher as the leader) emphasizing small things and verbalizing as you go along:

    “Let’s take small steps.”

    “Let’s touch the small chair.”

    “Let’s take small hops.”

    “Let’s make small circles with our arms.”

    “Let’s show a small smile.”

    “Let’s make a small frown.”

    “Let’s curl up in a small ball.”

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    Small, smaller and smallest

    1.Hold up an object like a book and ask a student to find one that is smaller than the one you have.

    2.Ask a student to bring you three crayons. Then have the students decide which is the smallest.

    3. Have a partner activity! One person makes a tower with blocks. The partner then makes a bigger(or smaller) one.

    4. Hold up a cracker and ask someone to make it smaller. Yum!

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    The concepts of big and small and the comparison words: small, smaller, smallest and big, bigger, biggest should be reinforced all year long. This is also true for any of the math vocabulary words like long, short, tall, light, heavy, empty, full and so on. Once you introduce a word continue to use teachable moments to reinforce the vocabulary. If you are working on shapes, find big and small examples of the shape. It may seem like a small thing to do but it makes a big difference!

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    References

    Ideas come from the author's twenty-five years of teaching in preschool and elementary settings.

    Book Image source: amazon.com

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