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Teaching Toddlers About Opposites Through Music

My little boy loves to make noise. Whether it’s throwing a toy on the ground or slamming a door, he always gets a little grin of satisfaction when he startles me. I knew he would love this activity because it’s all about making a ruckus.

Materials: Paper towel or toilet paper roll, droed beans or rice, paper, and tape.

NY State Preschool Standards Physical Development and Health (Gross Motor): Benchmark - Children combine and squence of large motor skills with and without the use of equipment. (Indicator: Child participates in a series of large motor movements or activities such as, dancing, follow the leader, or Simon Says.) 


1. Make a shaker using directionns at

2.I asked my son to decorate a piece of paper and then wrap that around the shaker, which might be easier for younger kids.

3. Introduce the idea of oposites by having your child use their shaker fast and slow, up and down, loud and quiet.


Adaptations based on development (in order from the most amount of support to the least amount):

  • Have your child copy your movements and identify each movement
  • Call out a direction and see if your child can do it on their own.
  • Call out a direction and have your child identify it and do its opposite.
  • Have your child call out opposite directions to you


Huddy had a lot of fun making the shaker. We used his favorites: stickers and paint. I assembled the shaker in front of him so could see what I was putting in the tube to make the noise. Great connection for cause and effect!

I gave him the shaker and was ready to share a great opposites lesson with him. But it didn’t work out as I had planned. (Has it ever?)

As I’m sure you’ve gathered from my previous posts, my child likes to throw things. As soon as I gave him the shaker, he hurled it across the room and marveled at the noise it made. Thanks to solid construction, it stayed intact.

I picked it up and started to show him what we can do with the shaker. I shook it loud then soft, fast then slow, high then low. He thought that was pretty cool so he got out his drum to join me. Together we played our instruments in as many opposite ways as I could think of.

Even though the activity didn’t happen the way I had intended, I still got an opportunity to drive home the concept of opposites and he had a lot of fun. A success in my book!

I look forward to playing opposites with him again if I can locate the shaker….who knows where he has thrown it now.


Bethany Reade