Here or There, Opposites are Everywhere

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When given the appropriate verb or adjective, students will be able to give the correct corresponding antonym.

Big Idea

Opposites are totally different from something else. Students discuss the meaning of known words to identify the opposite word (antonym).


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I place the globe in front of them and tell them to pack their suitcases because we are going to climb aboard our imaginary plane to head off to the country of India.

“This will be a long flight so be ready. We will take off from here in Maryland, fly east out over the Atlantic Ocean, fly over the continent of Africa and drop down to land in the country of India.”

 While I was talking I moved the push pin I was holding across the areas I spoke of and then pushed the pin into the country of India.

Now I move the globe back to its resting spot on our book area shelf and take my seat in front of the students on the rug area.

“Today we will be celebrating Diwali. This is one of many celebrations recognized in the country of India. If this is a celebration what do you think the people of India will do?”

I use the Fair Sticks to select students to respond to the question. Once several students have had the opportunity to respond I recall a few of the responses and say, “Break from school, special clothes, special food, go to church, decorations, presents or gifts; those were all good predictions. We are now going to read a book about Diwali to find out if you are correct.”   


40 minutes

“The book for today is called Diwali. The author is Kate Torpie. Looking at this book can anyone tell me what type of book you think this will be?”

I use the fair sticks to select a student to respond.

“Rachel says the book will be a non-fiction book. Why do you think this book will be a non-fiction book Rachel?”

“Great observations and ideas Rachel; the book does have real pictures on the front, the title tells me about a real event, and we are learning about celebrations around the world so we want to read factual books.”

I go ahead and read.


During reading I will discuss points of interest such as the use of the diyas. “I notice the people of India use a special kind of candle called a diya in their celebration. Can anyone think of any celebrations where we use candles?”

I allow enough students to respond until we cover the majority of celebrations. “That’s right. We have birthdays, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, and St. Lucia Day. What do the candles give us?”

Hopefully someone will respond with the word “light.” If not, guide the conversation in that direction.

“That’s right candles give us light. Now imagine if we did not have any electric lights and we only used candles for light. What happens if I blow out the candles?”

“Yes it gets dark. So the opposite of light is…?”

“Great let’s keep reading.”

We will read some more information and at every opportunity I will create situations where we can explore the similarities between celebrations and bring up antonyms. For example, the food – spicy/not spicy, sweet/sour; we discuss how we get so hungry waiting for the special foods because our tummy is empty and then we eat so much our tummy is full; clothing - special clothing/regular clothes; the people’s hands after making rangoli art - dirty/clean, etc.    Why opposites?


After reading I tell the students to take a seat around the edge of the rug as I am going to explain what we are going to do at integrated work stations. Edge of the Rug song

“During the story I talked about lots of the words and we mentioned some of the opposites of the words. Opposites can help us describe items to people. For example, my new bed is soft like a pillow not hard like a rock. Or we can use opposites to help us get what we need and explain why. For example, my towel is all wet and I really need a dry one so I can dry my wet hair.”

“So today at one of the work stations we are going to work on opposites.”
I hold up the worksheet they will find at the station. Antonym word work

“On this sheet are lots of words with picture clues. Your job will be to figure out what the word is and then think of the opposite word. You will write down the opposite word and then draw a picture clue for the reader.”

“Can anyone tell me what strategies I could use to figure out the words?”

I allow enough students to respond until all of the strategies we could use are covered. Then I will recall them briefly to refresh the students’ memories.

“That’s right; I can use the picture clue, I can get my mouth ready to say the first sound and sound out the word, I can ask a friend, or I can ask a grown-up. Those are all good strategies. What about the strategies I can use to write my opposite?”

“Great; I can use the books in book area, I can ask a friend, I can tap out the sounds, and I can draw a detailed picture clue.”

“Sounds like you are ready. At the table you will find everything you need. Pencils to write your name and the words, crayons, and the date stamp.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some opposites fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”

Watch some of the students working here:

Opposite words group one     Opposite words group two     Opposite words group three 

Opposite words group four


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely. 

Opposite words student working     Opposite words student working


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Opposite words student sample     Opposite words student sample 2     Opposite words student sample 3     Opposite words student sample 4     Opposite words student sample 5 

Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me the opposite to the word I give you. “Students today for your exit slip I will tell you a word and your job will be to give me the opposite for that word. For example, if Mrs. Clapp pulled out my name stick and said, “Dirty,” I would say what?”

“That’s right, I would say, “Clean.” You guys have got it. Okay here we go.”

I use the fair sticks to select the order of the students. I have a list of words already prepared and I match the words to the abilities of my students. For example, for my higher performing students I would use words like; rough, flat, shiny, clear, serious, etc. My lower performing students I would use words like; high, tall, light, up, happy, etc (words that they have already worked with in the activity so they are familiar with the antonym.  

Once a student has told me the correct antonym they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work together on coming up with an antonym pair. 


5 minutes

I will call each student over during a time which fits into my classroom schedule. I usually call my students over to work with me during free choice centers time or at integrated work station time (only if I have enough parent volunteers and I am not working a station myself).

I explain to the students that I would like them to listen carefully as I say each word. Once I have said the word their job will be to tell me the word’s opposite.

“I am going to say a word. After I have said the word your job will be to tell me it’s opposite. Let’s try one… Tell me the opposite of happy.”

Allow the student 3-5 seconds to respond.

“That’s right the opposite of happy is sad. You are ready to begin. Tell me the opposite of…”

Go down the list of words recording the student responses beside them. Opposites Assessment

If the student did not respond correctly with the word sad say, “Nice try. The opposite of happy is sad. Let’s try another one. Tell me the opposite of hot.” Repeat the steps as necessary. If after three tries the student still does not have the concept you will know the student does not understand and a repeat of the lesson will need to be done.


Try any of the antonyms activities from the book Build-a-Skill Instant Books Synonyms and Antonyms by Kim Cernek and published by Creative Teaching Press ISBN-13: 978-1-59198-419-1



Students can practice their skills at home with opposite’s worksheets from the Kids Learning Station website.



Make a set of opposite’s cards and play “Opposite Memory” with them. Words for Opposite Memory Game


Make a diya using air dry clay. We usually make the diya on one day, let it dry overnight and then paint it the next day. Paint with bright colors. Then I provide the students with tea lights to take home in their diya’s and they can explain about Diwali to their families using the diya as a recall tool. 



Use crushed colored chalk to make rangoli art. I have the students create a design using black markers and then use the crushed colored chalk to fill in the design. I have examples of rangoli art at the table for them to look at. This art form helps with visual perception and math concepts such as symmetry and geometry.


Rangoli: An Indian Art Activity Book


Rangoli – by Anuradha Ananth, is a good book to help students explore the idea behind rangoli art.


Roylco Rangoli Mega Stencils – can assist the students in coming up with designs. I prefer to have the students’ come up with their own as I feel it expands their creativity potential. However, if I see a student struggling to come up with a design, the stencils can help them feel successful.


National Geographic Kids website has a simple explanation and a few photos and a video for students to look at.