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.
Books about Big and Small
Big Bear, Little Bear by David Bedford
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
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)
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.
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!"
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.
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."
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!
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!
Ideas come from the author's twenty-five years of teaching in preschool and elementary settings.
Book Image source: amazon.com