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By Hilary Whiteeducational and craft writer

‘Opposites’ is a broad topic that offers lots of interesting learning opportunities. Focussing on opposites encourages children to investigate their environment, explore experiences and work with each other.


Heavy and light

Personal, Social and Emotional Development
Self-confidence and Self-awareness

Make two identical drawstring bags and fill one with cotton wool and one with dried chickpeas. Ask a child to rest the bags on another child’s outstretched hands so they can weigh them and identify which bag is heavy and which bag is light. Gather some items that are heavier than the chickpea bag and some that are lighter, making sure the items are not too big to sit comfortably on a child’s outstretched hand. Using the chickpea bag as a control, show the children how to weigh an item in one hand and the bag in the other. Can they judge whether an item is heavier or lighter than the bag?

Sort the items into two groups, photograph them and stick them onto two cut out circles with the headings ‘these items are lighter than the chickpea bag’ and ‘these items are heavier than the chickpea bag’. Include some items that are large and light, such as a big feather, and some that are small and heavy, such as a cast iron weight from old-fashioned scales.

Wet and dry

Physical Development
Moving and Handling

Introduce the concepts of ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ by talking about wetting your hands under the tap and making them dry with the towel. What other examples of wet and dry can the children think of? Put a wet flannel and a dry flannel in freezer bags and put the freezer bags in paper bags. Let the children feel inside a bag without looking and decide whether the flannel is wet or dry.

Introduce wet and dry art:
  • Sprinkle dry powder paint onto wet paper and watch the colours mix and make patterns.
  • Mix powder paint with water so the children can discover how the water turns the dry powder into wet paint.
  • Wash water over paper and drip blobs of paint onto the wet paper to make splashy patterns.
  • Brush paint onto paper and drip on water to make a raindrop effect.
  • Thin some paint by adding water, brush onto paper and then dab with a damp sponge to make a textured effect.
  • With older children, blow a pool of watery paint with a straw to make a streaky pattern.
  • Give the children a contrasting ‘dry art’ experience with chalk on dry paper and encourage them to feel the dry, dusty chalk on their fingers.
  • Try drawing with chalk on wet paper. How does it change the effect?
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