Learning to use ‘big’ and ‘little’


Why is this important?

‘Big’ and ‘little’ are important opposites. They form the building blocks of
more abstract concept development and give children a means to describe the world around them. They are often amongst the earliest adjectives (describing words) that children learn. Usually ‘big’ is learned before ‘little’.

What to do

  • Gather together:
    ★ A selection of objects – one ‘big’ and one ‘little’ (e.g. ‘big’ cup and ‘little’ cup; ‘big’ pencil and ‘little’ pencil).
  • Explain that you are going to take it in turns to tidy up and put the things away into a box/bag.
  • Put out a pair of items (e.g. two cups, one ‘big’ and one ‘little’). Tell the child to find the ‘big cup’. Put it in the box.
  • Ask the child:
    ★ Adult: ‘What did you put in the box?’
    ★ Child: ‘Big (cup)’.
  • Point to the remaining cup:
    ★ Adult: ‘What shall I put in the box?’
    ★ Child: ‘Little (cup)’.
  • During outdoor play, ask the child to jump into a ‘big’/‘little’ hoop. ‘Step up’ by asking: ‘Which hoop are you in?’
  • There are numerous opportunities throughout the day for teaching ‘big’ and ‘little’ – laying the table (‘big’ spoon, ‘little’ spoon), matching shoes etc.