Teaching words as opposites, antónimos or opuestos, increases a child’s Spanish vocabulary. The relationship between the two concepts helps kids understand both words. There are lots of activities that you can do with opposites. The ones I mention work with my printables, or you can easily make your own cards with different vocabulary. If the vocabulary is new to your child or students, you will want to start with just a few pairs. You can add more when those words are familiar.
The PDFs have picture cards and two versions of a picture search. One of the picture searches has the pairs together and on the other they are mixed-up. Use the one that is appropriate for the language level and age of your child. You can also start with the pairs and do the mixed-up version later. On the PDF there are two sets of sentences using the opposite words with the picture words. One set of sentences is very simple (El elefante es grande.) and the other is slightly more complicated (El animal terrestre más grande es el elefante africano.). The link to the PDFs is at the end of this post.
Spanish Vocabulary Activities with Opposite Printables
– Put the opposite cards face up and match the pairs. The question for “What is the opposite of…?” is ¿Cuál es el antónimo de…? or ¿Qué es lo contrario de…?
– Use the opposite cards to play memory.
– Use the opposite cards to label objects. For example, put cerrado on a closed drawer. Put grande on the refrigerator.
– Use movement to demonstrate the cards. For example, take a big step and a small step, reach up and crouch down, turn to the right and to the left, open your mouth or eyes and close your mouth or eyes.
– Play a guessing game. Draw a card and act out the concept (not necessarily the picture). Others guess the word and say its opposite too. You can also play by putting the pairs together, face down. Draw a pair and act out both words (primera palabra, segunda palabra). The others guess the words.
– Cut out magazine pictures that represent the opposites and make a collage. Kids can group the pictures for one word together or mix the pictures up. Talk about the pictures as you cut and make the collage. Hang the collage where you can keep talking about it.
– Working together, identify the opposite pairs on the picture search.
– Do a listening activity where you use the word in a sentence about the picture. Kids find the picture. If you use a simple sentence, it is easier for kids than if you just say the word, because the other vocabulary (flor, elefante) helps them find the right picture. Even if there are two pictures of the noun (carro viejo, carro nuevo), it helps them narrow down the options and they are just listening for the adjective. There are examples of simple sentences and more difficult sentences on the PDF.
– Say just the word and the kids find the picture.
– Take turns saying words and finding them on the picture search or examples in the house or class.
– Put the words on cards (no pictures). Play a game where you turn a card over and race to find the picture.
– Personalize the words by using them in sentences that relate to the kids and their lives. Tu hermana tiene pelo largo. Estoy feliz que les guste el español.
– For reading practice, put the sentences on cards. Kids read the sentences and match them to the pictures. You can do this with individual words, too.
There are lots of good pictures books about opposites. Opuestos: Mexican Folk Art Opposites in English and Spanish by Cynthia Weill is a beautiful book. It is bilingual and has lovely illustrations of hand-carved, hand-painted wooden animals from Mexico. The translation, Opuestos, by Sara Boynton has very fun illustrations. Neither of these books use the words in sentences, so parents and teachers will want to talk about the illustrations using the words.
I also like the translation Buenos días, buenas noches by Michael Grejniee because it is very simple and uses the words in complete sentences.
Once your kids are familiar with opposite vocabulary, they might enjoy the game Yo conozco un juego. It is popular in lots of Latin American countries and the song that you sing as you play is simple enough for Spanish language learners. I wrote about the game here: Song and Game to Teach Opposites in Spanish – Yo conozco un juego