As my youngest just transitioned from a crib to a big girl bed and now we are working on potty training, there is a lot of “big girl” talk going on in our house. She likes to play the game, “What can a big girl do that a baby can’t do?” We read and watched videos talking about how big girls can walk, talk, eat pizza, climb on the playground and babies can’t do any of those things. It helps her see that she is changing and growing…and it is a good thing! It’s also the same conversation we had with Big Sis when Little Sis was born. Comparing themselves to babies makes kids feel proud about their abilities and shows them that they have a special place in the family (even if that cute baby is getting a lot of attention!)
While I was talking about “baby vs. big girl” with Little Sis, my older daughter thought it would be fun to come up with ways they were both alike, too. Then the girls wanted to compare kids to adults. What can grown-ups do that kids can’t do? They gave answers like “Grown-ups can drive. They can cook.” You can also flip the question around so one thing isn’t always seen as “better” than the other. What can kids do? Kids can fit into smaller places and go on certain rides at the amusement park that adults aren’t allowed on.
Then we branched out to animals. What can an owl do that you can’t do? What about an elephant? It was really funny to hear their answers and thinking. The older the kids, the more detailed things you can ask them about. If they are dinosaur experts, ask them to compare a stegosaurus and a pteranodon. Or ask, “What can a microwave do that a stove can’t do?”
Comparing things and ideas is a skill kids will use many times in reading comprehension and critical thinking. Think about how many tests say “compare and contrast.” Why not start practicing that skill early as silly game? It’s a perfect thinking game you can play in the car, sitting in a cart at the store, or waiting at a restaurant. Try it out!
As with any educational game, the focus should be on fun. Ask a questions, give them some hints or offer some ideas, then let them ask you a question. If they are getting stressed out or bored of it, move on to something else.