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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

Playing with a big block of ice can keep your child interested for a long time.

Get a large container like a plastic basin and fill it three quarters full of water. Freeze it for about 12 hours. The next day take the ice out of the container and put it outside on cement, the deck or the lawn. Give your child some tools to use with the block. You could use a toothbrush, a fork, a butterknife, or even some cups to pour water over the block… use your imagination! Even a toy hammer and chisel would be great.

What can you do with a big cardboard box?

Next time you have a large cardboard box give it to your child to play with. Encourage them to use their imagination.

I wonder what this big box could be. What does it look like to you?

Turn a box on its side with the opening facing out. If you add a cushion or rug you’ll have a cosy nook just right for reading or dreaming.

Everyone celebrates birthdays differently, sometimes there is cake.

What would happen if there were twins? Would you make one big cake or lots of little ones?

How many cakes will we make? How many of the cakes will be red and how many will be yellow? If we make 12 cakes will there be 6 red and 6 yellow?

We are going to make lots of little cakes for the twins. They have just turned three and love red and yellow, and all things chocolate. Most of all they love to help.

Hop, hop, hop and stop

Help your child to draw a hopscotch course with chalk on cement. You can make the course as long as you like, but it usually has about 8 or 10 squares. Draw a set of single and double squares - like a ladder, but with extra bits. Write a number on each square of the course.

Let’s write 1 on the first square and 2 on the next square. What number comes after that?

Once the hopscotch course is set up you’re ready to go. Talk about the game with your child as they play.

Christmas can be a great time to make your own biscuits.

Once you have made and rolled out the dough your child can help you to cut out the biscuits. What shape will they be? How many will you make? Do they all need to be the same shape?

Talk with your child about why you are making the biscuits and how many you will need.

We are going to give biscuits to our friends for Christmas. They need to fit inside the small clear cellophane bags.

There are many different activities that you can do at the beach and talking to your child about what they would like to do will help you to decide what type of beach you will go to.

The beach can be a very relaxing and restful place where you can talk, read, build sandcastles and lie on the sand. It can also be very active and involve going for long walks, running, playing or swimming.

Jump like a kangaroo, hop like a frog

Next time your child is up and moving around, challenge them to a game of imagination.

Can you jump like a kangaroo? How does a frog jump?

How many different animals can you and your child pretend to be?

Try and think of ones that move in different ways. Some are really tall. Some move on two legs and some on four. Some move slowly and some are fast. Some are big and some are small. How will your child need to move their arms and legs to be a tall creature? What about a scary one?

If your baby has started to crawl, this game will challenge them and introduce them to lots of textures.

Lay out a course using things from around your home. You can use things like different textured bathmats, some cushions to crawl over, a large box to crawl through, a footstool to crawl around or an old shower curtain or fluffy blanket to crawl on.

Encourage your baby to crawl around the obstacle course and talk to them about what they are doing.

Does that feel bumpy? Go over the cushions. You are going under the table. There you are!

Your baby could hear you talking even before they were born. They recognised your voice right from the start. They might not understand the words that you say, but they will be listening and learning.

You can talk about what you are doing right now and what you are going to do.

It’s time to change your nappy. Here we go - onto the change table. Let’s take off that wet nappy. I’m putting it over here in the bucket. Here’s a lovely dry one. All done.

Your child can learn a lot when cooking with you. Why not make a cake together?

What does the recipe ask for? Do you have all the ingredients?

Can you see if we have some milk and 4 eggs in the fridge? How much flour do we have? Is the jar full or getting empty? 

While you are making the cake, read out the recipe for your child to follow. Show them the numbers and words in the recipe. 

Most children love to challenge themselves physically and explore the different ways they can move around, through and over different objects. You might find your child likes to try and balance on or along lines or other surfaces.

Next time you are outside with your child or walking somewhere, encourage them to try a bit of balancing. Can they balance along a line on the footpath, on a low brick wall or on one leg?

Blowing bubbles can be a fun activity to do on a very windy day. Watch the wind catch the bubbles and lift them high into the air. Try and track an individual bubble. As the wind catches the bubble and lifts it higher make predictions as to how high it will climb.

Will it climb over the fence or even over the roof of the house?

Hold and point the bubble blower differently and watch to see if the bubbles travel in different directions. Does it make a difference or will the wind still catch the bubble and float it quickly up into the air?

Let’s build.

What shall we create? Will it be a zoo for the wild animals or a house for the snails from the garden to hide in? Maybe we can stack and stack and stack the blocks until they reach the sky!

Talk with your child about what they want to make. What resources will they need? Can your child use the blocks and toys they have or do they need different things?

Let’s build a cave for the bear to sleep in. We will need to collect sticks and stones to make the cave.

A cardboard box car can be as simple or as fancy as you like. You’ll need a cardboard box that is big enough for your child to get inside.

Which box can you fit in? Is it too big, too small or just right?

Seal up the box with masking tape. If you want to paint the box now is a good time to do it. Make sure you let it dry before you add the other parts of the car.

What colour would you like your car to be? Can you cover every bit of the box?

Children are naturally inquisitive and want to know about the world and what is happening around them. The way they express their wonder and curiosity is by asking questions.

Your child might ask questions about what they see and hear or about where you are going.

Where does the sun go at night?

There is so much to remember in a day, a week, a month and a year. How do you keep track of what needs to happen and when? One way is to record an event on a calendar.

Talk to your child about all of the different events that happen over the year. Explain that some things we can remember because they are regular events and happen every day or week. Other things are harder to remember because they are irregular, changing or one-off events. When you record an event, time and place on the calendar it helps you to remember and plan what you need to do.

When calling your family together to share a meal talk about when they need to come. Will dinner be ready in five minutes or in half an hour? Talk about what they need to do before they come to eat together. Let them know where the meal will be served.

Dinner will be ready in five minutes. You need to wash your hands and pack away your toys.

Can you run and touch that tree?

Next time you are all outside you can play a game with lots of actions. Ask your child to follow your instructions, but keep it simple at first.

Can you run to that tree? Can you walk to the fence? Okay, now crawl back to me.

Try to think of lots of different ways to get your child moving. Younger children can walk, crawl and run. As they get older they can add more actions like hopping, jumping and skipping.

After a while you can make your instructions more challenging.

Next time your baby needs their nappy changed use the time to sing songs and to talk to them. As you change your baby’s nappy, name the different parts of their body and talk about what they can use them for.

Here are your feet. They are good for jumping and kicking the ball.

It’s time to change the sheets and make the bed. This time, you could ask your child to help you.

Where will you start? Will you ask them to take off the sheets or put the fresh, clean ones on?

As you work together, talk about what you are doing and where you will start.

We are going to start at the base and work up. Let’s put the fitted sheet on first and then we will do the quilt cover.

When we put the quilt cover on, the buttons go at the top of the quilt, closest to the pillows.

Your family has finished their meal together and now it’s time to clean up. Who is going to clear it all away? You could ask your child to help.

Talk with your child about where to start. Do you need to pack away the plates and other things from the table first? Is it possible to just wipe the table straightaway?

We need to put away the containers and dishes before we can wipe the table clean.

You can put the serviettes into the rubbish bin while I carry the heavy plates to the kitchen sink.

Cleaning our teeth is something that we do at least once every day. Some families have a routine of cleaning their teeth after every meal while other families may clean their teeth in the morning and then at night before they go to bed. Talking to your child as you clean their teeth - or as they try themselves - is a wonderful opportunity to use positional and directional language. Talk about where you will start cleaning.

There are many different ways you can move about. You can crawl, run, jump, roll or climb.

You can climb up, over, under and through things. Next time you are outside, at the park or moving about talk to your child about the different things they can climb.

We are going to the park with the big trees and logs. When we get there you can climb up the trees or over the logs.

The cup is on the shelf. You will need to climb onto the step to reach it.

There are many different ways to grow more plants. They can grow from cuttings, seeds, seedlings, bulbs or rootstock.

Next time you do your fruit and vegetable shopping with your child see if you can predict which ones will have seeds inside. If they have seeds inside you could try and grow them.

I think the pumpkin will have seeds inside that we can try to grow.

A pumpkin has lots of seeds inside but the avocado only has one big seed.

Children are natural noticers and collectors of bits. It might be a feather found at the park or a pebble from the beach. They may have a special interest in something and collect as many different bits and pieces as they can.

The toy catalogue has arrived in the letterbox. Hunt through it and see if you can find any pictures of cars you can add to your collection.

Talk to your child about what they have collected and the different things they liked about it. It might be the colour or the shape or how it feels on their hand.

The bell has rung, the bag is packed. Open the door and off goes the pack.

It is the end of the school or kindy day and time to go home. How will you get home? Do you travel home the same way every day or do you sometimes walk? If you walk do you travel the same way as you would in the car or is there a shortcut?

Do you have a regular routine when you get home? Are there jobs to do? Or does a long day mean you are both hungry and food comes first before any jobs?

Before we go inside we need to check the letterbox for mail.

Your child can learn a lot when cooking with you. Start with a family favourite that you all like to eat.

Talk about what you are going to make and what you will need. Ask your child to help you find the different utensils you need for cooking.

We are making pita. We need to find the sieve for the flour, a large bowl for mixing, and a cup for measuring out the flour.

Once you have all the utensils and ingredients, talk with your child about what will happen.

The Christmas pageant has been and gone, Father Christmas has arrived and it is time to decorate the Christmas tree.

What kind of Christmas tree will your family have? Will it be a real pine tree that you buy from a special place or a branch from a gum tree? Does your family have an artificial one that you take down and put up every year? Do you have an inside Christmas tree or one that you decorate outside?

It’s the first Saturday in December. It is time to put up the Christmas tree.

Are we digging to China or a tunnel under the sea?

Digging can be done just about anywhere. You can do it in your backyard, at the park or the beach, or in the kitchen when you dig out a scoop of ice-cream.

You and your child can get creative and make tunnels that travel from one country to another. Your child could help you dig a hole to plant a new lemon tree, make a trench for a stormwater pipe or get a new garden bed ready for the veggies.

Children explore how things fit and connect together from a very young age. You might see this when your child tries to slot the car keys into different locks around the house or when they pull everything out of the cupboard and try and fit it back in.

Next time you are dressing your baby talk about what you are doing. 

Let’s get you dressed and ready for the day. It’s cold outside so we need warm clothes. 

As you move your baby around to put on their clothes, name the different parts of their body. After a while you might notice that your baby begins to help you by turning with you. 

First we put on your top. Over your head it goes. One arm, now the other arm. There you go.

You could talk about what is going to happen next. 

Eating out at a cafe or a restaurant is an opportunity to talk and sit together as a family.

You can explore all the different types of writing and print you can see around the restaurant. Do they have a menu on the table? Is there a long list on the wall that shows the food you can order? Where else can you see words and print?

The label on the water bottle has writing and words.

What do you think the words and numbers on the door say?

Sitting together as a family to share food can be a great opportunity to talk about what happened during the day or what might happen tomorrow.

If the weather is nice you could pack a picnic and sit outside or go to the park and share a meal together. If it is cold and wet you could still have a picnic, but have it inside by the fire or heater where it is nice and warm.

Summer is a wonderful time to encourage children to eat fruit and a fun way to do this is to add fruit to iceblocks. Fruit iceblocks can be a refreshing and healthy afternoon snack on a hot day and if your child is reluctant to eat fruit it may encourage them to try.

There’s something in the letterbox!

Junk mail that arrives in your letterbox might look like rubbish to you, but children love it. Next time you find catalogues in the mail take some time to look at them with your child.

Let’s see what these are about. What can you see on this page?

You can use food catalogues to plan your meals for the week. Talk with your child about favourite foods and new foods.

What should we have for lunch tomorrow? Do you want strawberries or mangoes?

Many cultures share and tell their stories through the colour, designs, placement and patterns printed or woven into their fabric and cloth.

The fabric can tell you the story of where a person lives, what animals or food can be found in the environment and who they are connected to. It can even tell you the age and status of the person wearing the cloth.

Next time you are out and about try to find some interesting or unusual fabrics to talk about. You can also look in a book.

As you feed your baby it is a wonderful time to talk to them. You can do it when you snuggle up close to feed them or when they are sitting in their highchair.

Talk to your baby about how much, how fast and what they are eating. As you feed your baby describe the colour and the texture of the food. You can also talk about things that are happening around you or that you can see.

Feeding your pets can be a simple task for your child to help you with. Talk with your child about what time you feed your pets.

Now we’ve finished our breakfast, it’s time to feed Duffy. He likes to eat in the morning too.

Show your child what your pet eats and how much to feed it.

Duffy likes half a can of dog food and a handful of dog biscuits. Can you scoop out the food from the can? Now put one big handful of dry food on the top. Let's leave Duffy to enjoy his breakfast.

Is there a park with a pond near where you live? Are there ducks at the pond? Next time you visit take some duck food with you to feed the ducks.

It’s a sunny day. Let’s go and feed the ducks down at the pond. I wonder how many ducks will be there today.

Talk about the location of the pond. Is it in the middle of the park? Or is it on the edge of the park next to the car park?

We are going to the park with the pond in the middle. We will park the car on the road next to the entrance and then walk to the pond.

All year round many different festivals are celebrated. Some are community festivals that celebrate the harvesting of local produce. Others are cultural or religious festivals that are celebrated across the world. There are also festivals that are small and celebrate what is happening with a small group of people.

Talk with your child about what the festival is for and who celebrates it. Is it a religious festival that is celebrated as a holiday and dates back hundreds of years? Is it a festival that celebrates local artists? Talk about how they are different.

Quick! It’s time to go. We will be late for school. But where are your shoes and socks?

Encouraging your child to find their shoes and socks helps them to develop listening and navigation skills.

Talk to your child about where their shoes and socks might be. Is there a special place where all of the shoes are kept?

Your shoes are by the front door. We took them off before we came inside.

The first day of starting anything new can be a very stressful time your child. As the big day approaches, talk about what might happen, who will be there and what they can do if a problem occurs. Creating routines and having a dry run can help to reduce anxiety as your child will begin to understand what to expect.

Move, move, freeze!

Have you ever shown your child a statue? They don’t move. Can your child stand as still as a statue?

If your child isn’t already up and moving, encourage them to get started. You could sing as they move or play some music. Work out a way to tell them when to stop. You could use a word like freeze or stop. Or you could use a sound like clapping your hands or ringing a bell.

When I clap my hands you need to stand as still as a statue. You can’t let anything move – not even your toes.

Let's party!

Friday night could be party time at your house. First set the scene. Where will the dance party be? Do you need to move some furniture? Have you got music? Do you have some coloured lights?

Let’s move the chairs out of the way. They’re heavy so we’ll need to push hard.

Put the music on and dance with your children. Think of lots of ways to move and let the music guide you.

Getting a new pet is an exciting event and your child will learn a lot. First you need to discuss what the most suitable pet for your family is. A large dog might not be great in a small flat, but hermit crabs might be perfect. You also need to think about how much a pet costs to buy and look after. Once you have decided to get a pet it's time to find out a bit more - write down a list of what you want to know.

What kind of pet would be good for your family? You could look online, go to the library or ask other people.

What will you wear today?
There are plenty of decisions to make when you help your child get dressed in the morning.

What are you doing today?
Does what you do change what you will wear? Is it a day at home or a going out day?

Today we are going to playgroup so you’ll need to wear clothes you can play in.

What is the weather like today?
You can find out by looking at the weather forecast or just looking out the window.

It will be cold outside so what will you need to wear - a jumper or a T-shirt?

Ask your child to help you find the food or ingredients you will need for the meal. Talk with your child about what you are doing. Is the meal ready-made or does it needs to be made from scratch? If it is ready-made where is it kept? If it is not ready-made where are the different ingredients stored? What order will you need to collect the ingredients in?

Let’s get out the vegetables first but wait to get the cheese out as that needs to be kept cold.

Quick, get ready. It’s time to go.

Leaving the house and getting into the car can involve a lot of talking and planning. Where will everyone sit? Are there special seats for different people in the car? Does where you sit change if there are more or less people in the car?

We’re going to school. We have to fit four of us in the car. All of the bags will need to go in the boot.

Your seat is in the back behind the driver’s seat. You have your own special seat to sit in.

What’s the time? Is it time for bed?

Getting ready for bed is a wonderful opportunity to explore time and to look at the way we combine events together into a sequence. As bedtime approaches talk about what time your child will go to bed and how they know when that is. Is their bedtime 6pm - at the end of a favourite program? Or is it at the end of the evening meal?

What kind of hair does your child have? Is it long and straight or short and very curly? Does your type of hair make a difference to how often it needs to be cut?

Your hair is getting very long. You don’t need to get it cut because you can tie it up for school. Your brother needs it cut as it is getting in his eyes.

It is taking a long time for my hair to grow because it is curly and the curls spring up.

What type of gingerbread people could you make with your child? Will each biscuit be decorated differently with individual personalities or will they be your favourite football team?

Before starting to cut out the people, talk about how they will look. If they are going to have lots of decorations will you make them bigger compared to ones that will only have eyes, a nose and a mouth? Once you have worked out how big the biscuits will be, talk to your child about how thin to roll out the dough.

The holidays are approaching - are you going away? If you are, talk to your child about where you are going and the jobs that need to be done before you go.

We are going camping for Easter. We can’t take the dog and cat with us so we need to organise someone to look after them while we are away.

We are going on a big trip to Queensland for 2 weeks. It is going to be very hot and we can swim. We need to pack our bathers and take clothing for hot weather.

When you read a party invitation together you will be looking at what time the party is being held, the location of the party, whether it is indoor or outdoor and what will happen at the party.

Football and sporting finals are a very important event for many families as they are a celebration of the hard work and achievement of the team over the past year. You may have a member of the family playing in the team or your favourite football team may be playing.

To watch a bulb grow, roots and all, it is best to grow it in a jar, instead of outside in the garden.

Choose which bulbs you want to grow. When you choose the bulb, talk about it with your child, looking together at the pictures on the packet.

Let’s look at these bulbs on the stand. Which one should we choose? This is a hyacinth and has blue flowers. This one is a daffodil. It has a yellow flower. Should we grow more than one kind?

When you get them home put them in the vegetable drawer of your fridge for a few weeks.

A vegetable that is taller than you…

Sweet corn is an easy food to grow and you can grow it in your garden or in a pot.

In September or October choose a place in your garden that is warm and sunny. Dig the soil so that it is ready for planting and water it. Talk with your child about why the plants need good soil and sun to grow.

We need to make sure the roots of the corn can grow deep into the soil.

Wheat sprouts can grow in just a couple of weeks and your child will be able to watch them change from day to day.

Put the wheat in a bowl, cover it with water and let it soak for two days. Watch what happens. Does it look any different? You will need to change the water every day.

Let’s use the strainer to pour out the water. Why does the strainer let the water through but not the wheat?

Pour some more water in gently so it covers all of the wheat.

The washing is done, the sun is shining and now it’s time to hang it out. Your child could help you do this.

Put the bucket of pegs and the basket of washing on the ground where your child can reach them. Ask your child to find different items of clothing. As they find each one see if they can work out how many pegs are needed to hang them on the line.

Can you find the spotty socks and the purple shorts? How many pegs will we need to hang them up?

There are different ways you can heat food to get it ready to eat. Talk to your child about the different ways you can heat food and that it involves time and temperature.

When you travel by bus there are many decisions to be made. Where will you catch the bus? How close is the bus stop to your house? If you don’t know what number bus to catch or where to catch the bus from, how will you find out? How will you know when to get off? Do you know the bus stop number or will you look for a landmark?

We’re going to take the bus into town today. We’ll need to look at the bus timetable to see what number bus to catch and what time the bus leaves.

Is it smaller or bigger? Will it fit or not? How will I know if it fits in the box?

When you are doing things with your child point out the different sizes of objects. Get them to compare them to things that they know are really big, like an elephant, or really small, like an ant.

Which is taller - the building with 100 windows or the tomato plant?

Would an ant’s feet be smaller or bigger than yours?

Is it full, is it empty, is it nearly to the top, can you squish one more in before it pops?

​When you are unpacking and putting away the shopping with your child, talk about the capacity or volume of the jars you have bought. Which jar is bigger and holds more? Are all of the jars full to the top or could some of the jars hold more? How do you know what size the jar is? Sometimes a jar or container can look bigger than another, but is it? How do you know?

Once all of the jars have been unpacked, talk about your own storage containers.

When you are out shopping with your child talk about the cost of items, explaining that you need to pay for them before you can take it home.

Talk to your child about the different ways that you can pay for something. You might pay using cash or by EFTPOS or credit card. Talk about why you have chosen to pay that way. Explain that if you pay by cash there might be change that could be a mixture of notes and coins.

I am going to pay cash for the pie because I have enough money in my purse.

You can help your child learn about growing by measuring their height over time.

Have your child stand next to the door jamb. They need to stand straight and tall. Rest a ruler or book on your child’s head - touching it lightly against the wall - and use a pencil to mark their height. Measure the distance from the floor to the mark using a tape measure or a ruler. Write your child's height and the date next to the mark on the wall. Don’t forget to measure everyone in the family - even the grown-ups and the dog!

Yesterday you planted new seedlings in the garden and today when you look they are not there.

Where do you think they went? Did a giant rabbit sneak into the garden at night and take them home for dinner?

The insects and bugs have been eating our seedling during the night. We need to go bug hunting in our garden to find them.

Losing a tooth is a big milestone for children. How will you celebrate it? Some families have the tooth fairy who leaves money in return for the tooth. There are other ways to celebrate though.

You could have a special lost tooth book and write the date the tooth was lost along with a the story about how it got lost. You could draw or download a map of all the teeth in your child’s mouth and as they lose the teeth they could colour the appropriate tooth on the map and write the date.

I spy with my little eye something that is green, soft and found outside!

Next time you are waiting for an appointment, have some spare time, or travelling on the bus, play I-spy with your child.

There are many different ways you can play I-spy. You might play using the first letter of the word, the colour and shape of the object or what you use it for. How you play will change depending on your child’s age and how interested they are.

I spy with my little eye something I can drink with.

Children delight in finding surprises and these blocks are a way of keeping your child interested as they try to free the surprise in the iceblock.

Partially fill a milk carton or small plastic container with water. Add a plastic creature or other surprise such as a shell, leaves or even flowers. Freeze it overnight and turn out the iceblock in the morning. Talk to your child about the different ways they could free the surprise.

How can you get the surprise out of the iceblock?

What time of the day does your bin get emptied? Is it early in the morning while you are still in bed or later in the day when you are out and about?

Talk to your child about your routine for putting the bin out. The time that it's emptied will tell you when to put it out. If it's very early in the morning you might need to put it out the night before.

The weather is fine, the days are long and the family is on holidays. If you have a barbecue everyone can help to prepare the meal. Maybe this time you could make kebabs.

Talk to your child about the different types of kebabs you can make. Will you use meat or vegetables or a mixture of both? Your child could help you to cut up the different ingredients and thread them on.

It’s bath time and there is a lot to do to get ready. You can talk to your child about all the different choices that happen as part of getting ready.

How hot will the water be and how deep will you fill the bath? How many children will be in the bath together? If there is more than one, does this change how much water you need for the bath? Are you going to add bubble bath to the water? When does the bubble bath go in?

Once all the bath time choices have been made, talk about what happens and when.

The weather has changed and it’s time to see if last year’s clothing still fits.

Summer has finally ended and the nights are getting cold. I think it is time to change to winter pyjamas. We will have to see if last year’s still fit.

Talk with your child about the different ways you can work out if their clothing will fit. Do they need to try it on? Can you just hold it up against them to see if it is still big enough?

Christmas is a time of celebration for many cultures and a time to reflect and give thanks for the year. Many families and communities will begin their celebration with a local pageant.

Before going to the pageant talk about the different things you might see and do. Talk about the sounds you might hear and the different types of floats and entertainers that might be there.

We will have to wait a long time for the pageant to start. We can draw on the ground with chalk while we wait.

Spring is nearly here and September is show month.

Explore with your child all the different types of shows that are held. Explain that there are country shows and big city shows. Talk to your child about what they might see at a small local show compared to a big city show.

If you are going to go to the show with your child make a plan of what you want to see, do and eat before you go.

It’s the end of the week and work and school is over. What will you do on the weekend? Do you have plans or will you take it easy and catch up on jobs around the house?

Talk with your child about the weekend routine or what you’ve got planned. Are there regular things that you do like football or the shopping? Do you wait to see what the weather will be before planning what you will do?

Jake’s got football Saturday morning at 8’o clock. After the game we can go and play at the playground.

The rain has fallen, the sun is out and everyone’s keen to get out the door and go.

The weather has changed and the wind is blowing a gale.

What do you do? Do you stay inside where it is warm and toasty or do you go outside and brave the wild weather?

If you stay inside, look out the window and talk together about what you notice. Can you see the wind lifting up the leaves and blowing them high into the sky? Are the branches on the trees moving and bending in the wind? What else can you see?

The wind is so strong that it’s blown over the pot plant by the barbecue.

It’s raining it’s pouring, everything’s wet and boring…

The weather has changed and winter has arrived. Often when this happens and the rain rolls in it is hard to find things to do outside to keep your child busy and active. Rain puddles are just made for jumping. You can try jumping over puddles with your child.

Many communities light up the night sky by holding a festival of lights.

Your community might celebrate the festival of light by stringing fairy lights through trees, illuminating buildings with different coloured lights or turning the lights on and off in time to music. Sometimes it starts with all the lights in the community being switched off and then turned back on after a countdown to begin the festival.

Many special things happen every day but some are so important that the whole family wants to celebrate. It might be the birth of a child, a birthday, a special cultural event, a new job, a change in seasons or winning an award.

Talk to your child about the special event and how you will celebrate it. Is it a traditional celebration with customs to follow and special food to cook? Can the family choose how to celebrate because it’s a one-off event?

Children are natural movers and shakers. As they grow, your child is constantly exploring how to move their body in different ways.

Sometimes they are exploring how to move through an object, such as a tunnel. Other times they might be exploring how to move their body in time to the music and the beat.

It’s really fast music - I can’t jump as fast as that.

Most children find it fun to play - seeking out adventures and actively exploring the world with their bodies.

Playing at a park or a playground will give your child an opportunity to use all their big muscles and experiment with how to move their bodies in different directions. They can run as fast as the wind or roll down the hills like a spinning top.

There are other ways that you can encourage your child to be physical and active. You could try:

Cheese or ham? Brown bread or multigrain? It’s lunch time. Let’s make sandwiches.

Your child can make their own sandwiches. First encourage them to choose what sort of bread and which fillings they would like.

Look in the fridge and see what’s there. Would you like tomato and cheese?

Count out how many slices of bread you will need. We’re making one sandwich for you and one for me. Two slices of bread for you and two for me. 1, 2, 3, 4.

How you load or unload the dishwasher can be unique to you or your family and might be different just because of the type of dishwasher you have. As you work with your child to load or unload the dishwasher, explain to them how you will go about the task and the reason for the decisions you are making.

This plate is longer and has sharp corners compared to the plate that has curved corners. This plate is thicker so will not fit in that slot.

Look, up in the sky - what can you see?

Take some time to encourage your child to stop and look up while you are out walking or lying on the grass.

Talk about what you see. Clouds are always changing. Sometimes they are white, sometimes shades of grey.

There are lots of clouds today. Are they big, fluffy clouds or long thin ones? What colour are they?

You can also talk about why the clouds are different colours or about how they are moving.

Lunar New Year is celebrated by many Asian cultures. It is usually in January or February, begins on the night of the new moon and continues until the moon is full 15 days later. Dragons and lions, food, the colour red, and money are all part of the celebrations. Like many other cultures, the New Year is a time for a fresh start and it is important to clean the house, have a haircut and buy new clothes. The Lunar New Year is also about good luck for the year ahead and this is celebrated in many ways:

Use photos of your child and their adventures to make special books for them. Choose some photos together and print them out. Glue them on pages so they make a story. Your child can help to add decorations like stickers or drawings. Write the story in the book together and then join the pages with cable ties or ribbons. Your child will love hearing you read a story about them.

Instead of buying wrapping paper and gift bags this year you could try to make your own. Your child could help you.

Talk about what kind of wrapping paper you want to make. You could draw pictures, create dotty paper using stickers that are round, or use paint to create different designs. Will you use lots of different colours to create a rainbow? Would you rather use just one or two colours to make it match the decorations on your Christmas tree?

Our Christmas tree has red and green decorations. We can make paper that will match.

Making your own playdough is easy and your child will be learning as they go. Ask your child to help you find the ingredients in the cupboard. They can measure them out ready to mix.

Fill the measuring cup right to the top. That makes one cup. Now we need another cup of flour. That makes two cups of flour.

Getting the family to agree on what to eat can be tricky sometimes. Why not create a family cookbook to help everyone decide.

Gather the family together and talk about how you will organise the book and what you will put in it.

There are many different ways you could set up the cookbook. You could organise it by:

Many cultures use an Advent calendar in the days leading up to Christmas. You could buy one but making one can be more fun. There are many ideas for simple calendars on the internet. One idea is to have 24 envelopes with each one containing an idea of something to do on that day. The ideas could include: make a wish list of presents, write some cards, read a special story, make a decoration, go for a walk to look at Christmas lights, do some cooking, sing some Christmas songs, and so on.

We often send cards to family and friends at Christmas time. Instead of buying cards this year you could ask your child to help you make some.

Talk with your child about the different types of cards you can get and what they are used for. There are table cards that help people to know where to sit, cards that are tags for presents and cards to write in. What kind of cards will you make?

We need to make cards to label the presents, and cards to send to Nana and Papa in England.

Drawing and writing doesn’t just happen inside. Outside can be a great place to draw and write too.

Give your child some chalk to draw with when they are outside. They could draw on cement, walls or fences. When your child is drawing or writing outside they are able to make very big pictures or letters.

Can you draw a big picture of yourself? Is it bigger than you?

How big can you write your name?

Encourage your child to experiment with mixing the chalk colours together.

Making pancakes with your child can be an opportunity to talk, read and create together. You can choose to use a packet or make them from scratch using flour, milk and eggs.

Before you start, talk about what flavour pancakes you want to make and what you will need. If you are going to change the recipe explore the different flavours together and talk about when to add the extra ingredients.

We could make savoury ones and add cheese and grated zucchini.

Work with your child and look for a recipe to make pasta dough. Once you’ve found a recipe talk with your child about the different steps you will do to make the dough. If the recipe has pictures point to each one and explain what is happening.

First we’ll sieve the flour. Then we’ll mix in the eggs and last we will knead the dough.

After the dough has rested we can roll out the dough - stretching so it gets thinner and thinner.

Let’s make a sandcastle that reaches to the sky with turrets and bridges and a moat for boats to sail in.

Before starting, talk to your child about what you will need. Will you use a bucket and wet sand to make the main building of the castle? Can you just pile lots of sand in the middle and then smooth it over?

Let’s use the very big bucket to make the main castle building. We need to dig down to get the wet sand buried under the ground. Keep filling the bucket with sand up to the very top.

The sun has risen and it is time to get up. Are you hungry because it’s time for breakfast?

Will you have toast? If you’re having toast, are there different types of bread and spreads to pick from?

We have 3 different types of bread in the fridge. There is brown, white and multigrain. Which one do you want?

Yesterday you had butter and Vegemite on toast. Do you want the same today or something different?

There are shadows all around us - some are inside and some are outside.

On a sunny day show your child their shadow on the ground.

What happens to the shadow when you move? Can you run away from your shadow? How do you know it is your shadow?

Talk with your child about how shadows are formed. Does the shadow change with the sky? Take your child outside at night or when it is cloudy and talk about the differences.

Nowruz, the Persian new year, means ‘new day’. It is celebrated around the world usually from March 21st for 13 days.

Celebrate the new moon with your family and friends. You can get together in your backyard, at a local park or by going to one of the big festivals.

Chinese and Vietnamese families traditionally celebrated the new moon as part of the Mid-Autumn Festival on the 15th day of the 8th month. Explain to your child that we have a different calendar in Australia.

Talk to your child about the festival and how it celebrates the moon. Explain that different people, families and cultures will celebrate different events and days.

Children naturally want to move and be active and will try out different ways for their bodies to move. You can combine language with your child’s natural interest in moving.

As you talk, sing or chant with your child you can combine action rhymes and words with movement patterns. Take turns leading the rhyming and instructions. You could make up nonsense words that rhyme.

Stand up tall and then curl up small.

Run to the hall and then roll like a ball.

When you and your child are playing outside see how many different ways can you move your body.

How many jumps or hops can you do on your right leg and can you do the same amount on your left leg? Can you keep a ball or balloon in the air for one minute before it touches the ground?

How quickly can you crawl to the back fence and then hop to the side gate?

Did you do it faster yesterday than today?

Most countries have a special day every year that is a holiday and a day of celebration. The day is an annual event that everyone from that country can celebrate and remember. It is a special event that brings them together as a nation.

The day might celebrate the end of a war, the first day of independence or a significant custom or tradition.

Spanish families celebrate el Dí a de la Raza on the 12th of October. Some families call this Christopher Columbus day. The day celebrates his discovery of America.

A new year is traditionally a time for celebration. Different cultures have their own ways to celebrate but most see the end of one year and the start of another as a special time. Children enjoy the celebrations and parties along with everyone else. Many people celebrate New Year’s Eve on December 31st with parties. Lunar New Year is celebrated by many Asian cultures and the date and way it is celebrated can vary.

When it’s dark outside different things come out to play. You might hear them banging across the roof or hissing at each other.

What do you think it could be?

You or your child might have noticed in the morning that things have changed since you went to bed. Have plants been eaten or is there animal poo on the ground?

What do you think it could be?

Have you ever noticed how many numbers there are around you? Next time you and your child are out walking take a look and see how many you can find.

You might find numbers in surprising places. Remember to look up high and down low. Look on letterboxes and doors, gates and fences.

There’s a number on that fencepost. Can you read it?

Talk about why houses and buildings have numbers. Can you work out the patterns?

This is number 3, then comes 5, then comes 7. What will the next one be?

We went to visit the city one day and caught a tram along the way. What do you think we noticed that day?

Lots of different noises – car horns tooting, trucks reversing, clocks chiming, people talking, water rushing and tram bells sounding.

Lots of shiny windows – different shaped ones, reflective ones, open ones, ones with writing and ones you can see through.

Lots of signs – traffic signs, pedestrian signs, advertising, stop signs and shop signs.

Lots of people moving – quickly, slowly, riding, driving, holding hands and carrying bags.

Get ready, get set, go!

There are lots of different ways that you can have races at home, at the park or at the beach. You can race against each other or just against the clock.

You and your child can run, jump or hop over a set distance.

How fast can you run from here to the tree? Can you get there as fast if you hop? What about if you crawl?

Reusable grocery bags make excellent sacks for a sack race. Just get your child to step inside, pull the handles up tightly and jump.

It’s time to go off to the shops and do the shopping. Have you checked that they’re open? How could you find out?

We need to buy pita, hummus and stuffed vine leaves. I am not sure what time the shop opens. I might ring and see if they are open yet.

Explain to your child that shops have opening and closing hours and they can all be different. Some shops will open very early in the morning. Other shops are only open later in the day.

The supermarket market is open 7 days a week and starts trading at 7 in the morning.

Looking at a takeaway menu to choose what to eat is an activity that can involve the whole family. Talk about what you want to eat. Will all the family eat the same thing from the menu or will individuals be able to choose their own items from the list? Will the serves be large enough to share and if so how many people will each serve feed?

I went to visit the city one day and spied North Terrace along the way. What else do you think I spied that day?

I spied with my little eye lots of different statues – tall ones, short ones, ones with people, some with horses and one person sitting.

I spied with my little eye lots of buildings – ones to live in, some to shop in, ones to read in, some to look in, one with paintings and one with dinosaurs.

Babies love to be outside. There is so much for them to experience all year around.

In spring you could show your baby flowers growing in gardens or parks. Talk with them about the colours, the size and the smell of the flowers. Brush their fingers in the petals. Listen to their babble and respond to it.

Look how pretty this rose is. It has soft, pink petals. It smells beautiful.

Talk to your child about what they might want to eat when at kindy or childcare.

How many things is that? Will they fit inside the shape of the lunch box? Do some of the things need to go into the fridge or will they all stay in your lunch box till lunchtime?

Packing up time can be turned into a fun learning experience when you and your child share the task together. Talk about where each toy belongs before you put it away, so that your child is able to predict where to place items.

We have lots of different toys to pack away. We can put the blocks in the basket and the cars in the bucket. We can roll up the car mat and pop it behind the toy box.

Turn the task into a game by setting some challenges.

When children go to childcare, kindergarten or school they will take a bag with them. In their bag there will be things that they need every day and some things that they will only need for that day. Ask them to identify what they need every day and to locate the objects to go into the bag. Talk about what are the “only today things” and where they can find them.

Painting is a wonderful activity that can be enjoyed inside and outside and does not always need to include paint. On a hot day painting could be a bucket of water and a paint brush, making designs and swirls on the path, watching to see how quickly the hot sun makes the water disappear.

Shaving cream is another wonderful substitute for paint. Your child can spread and move the shaving cream across the table with their hands and fingers. Encourage them to smooth the shaving cream out flat and draw pictures in the flat surface with their fingers.

Stripes, spots, squares and checks - patterns are all around us.

Next time you are out walking with your child look for the patterns around you. A pattern is s ordered and predictable, but it might not be even. It could be bricks in a wall or crooked paving stones. Show your child how some things form patterns.

Look, the slats in the seat make a stripy pattern. A stripe of wood, then a space, a stripe of wood, then a space. That makes a pattern.

See if they can find their own patterns.

Next time you get a bill, talk about it with your child. What is it for? It might be for work you had done, something you ordered online or from when you last ate out as a family.

Explain that the purchase or service received will be described using words, symbols and numbers. These help to tell you how much you have to pay, what you are paying for, when you need to pay and the quantity you are buying.

This is the bill for dinner. It says that we ate 3 serves of fish and chips, 1 serve of pasta, an entree of squid and a bottle of sparkling water.

When children use tools to pick things up they are building muscle strength and developing coordination. One way to do this is to give your child plastic tweezers to pick up items and transfer them from bowl to bowl. You could use coloured pom-poms, beans, pasta, shapes, gumnuts or cotton balls. Helping to serve up food with kitchen tongs is another way to develop hand control.

Is it a plane, is it a bird, is it Superman? No, it’s a jumbo jet bringing families home!

Often when you are outside or travelling around with your child they will notice a plane in the sky. When they do, talk to them about what they can see.

Can you see the plane flying in front of the cloud? Do you think it is a big plane or a small one?

That is a very big plane. How many engines can you see on it?

Planting a small vegetable and herb garden with your child gives them a chance to experience the sensation of soil on their hands. Together you can make choices about what to plant and you will be able to observe the changes as the plants grow and begin to produce fruit, vegetables or herbs.

Before planting the seed read the instructions on the packet with your child. As you read the instructions point out the different symbols that are used to give direction to know where to plant the seed, how deep to plant it and how big it will grow. Talk to your child about what size container you will need for the seed to grow in.

If the seed grows into a tall plant the roots will grow down deep and will need a tall container. If the seed grows into a spreading plant that is wide the container will need to be shallow and wide.

Next time you have a few minutes or you are waiting for the bus to arrive play peekaboo with your baby. You can play using your hands to cover your face. You can also hide behind a book or a paper and pop out from behind it.

Before you start make sure you are facing your baby and have their attention. Try and keep your baby’s attention by changing the noise you make and your facial expression.


Encourage your child to join in by helping them to cover their own face with their hands.

Playing with balls outside provides children with the opportunity to catch and throw, roll and kick, push, punch and chase after the ball. As the ball moves, talk about the way it is moving.

Is it moving along the ground at a fast pace or bouncing up and down on the same spot? Can you roll the ball under the chair or throw it at a target on the shed?

Playing with playdough is a wonderful opportunity to creatively explore what objects can be made but also to engage in pretend play. By adding patty pans, bowls, biscuit cutters, baking trays, and coloured stones suddenly your child is making cupcakes and biscuits for a birthday party. Take away the cooking utensils and add sticks and feathers and the activity can change to making birds and a bird’s nest.

Talk about how thirsty your child is - do they want a big glass or a small glass? Is there a favourite glass that they have and can they find where it is? Will they have a hot or a cold drink and where would they find the drink? When you pour the drink will it be from a tap that may come out of the tap very fast or will it be poured from a jug slowly?

The sun has been shining, the plants have all grown and now it is time to prune. Talk with your child about which plants need to be pruned and how you will do it. Do they need to be cut in a special way or can you decide how much you want to cut off?

The roses have flowered and we need to cut off the dead heads so more buds will grow.

It is very difficult to walk down the path by the side of the house as the bushes have grown too big. We need to cut them back to the edge of the path.

Shoes and socks sometimes need to go on quickly, but when you have a few extra minutes putting on shoes and socks can be a wonderful opportunity to explore direction, space and the type of footwear you need for different events or weather conditions.

Have you ever noticed how much writing there is on clothing? Some of it’s on the outside and some is on the inside. Point out the writing as you help your child get dressed.

Look at the writing on your T-shirt. Can you find the letter that your name starts with?

When you are shopping for your child’s clothes show them the label and talk about the size you are looking for.

You need a size 4 shirt. Can you find one with a 4?

Before leaving the house to travel somewhere find your location on a map and identify where you want to go. Plot the best route to travel to that location.

Will the route you take change if you are walking or travelling in a car or a bus? Talk about the number of streets you may need to cross and if the streets are long or short. Is the location you are travelling to close or far away? When looking at the map can you also identify other symbols on the map to show different landmarks.

Reading can happen anywhere and everywhere. We read signs, recipes, information on packets and tins, bus timetables and menus. A love of words and language can be encouraged by reading books together.

Next time you are travelling in the car or going for a walk with your child, point out the different traffic signs. Why are they there? What do they tell you to do?

There are traffic lights outside the school. They tell us to slow down and drive at 25km.

As you notice the different signs try and sort or group them into ones that are the same.

Those are crossing lights. They help pedestrians to safely cross the road.

When recycling talk to your child about the different household things that can be recycled and how each group will be treated. For example, food scraps can be made into compost, while glass bottles can be taken to the recycling centre.

Will you set up your own recycling bins for bottles and paper and take them to the recycling centre? Or will you use the bins provided by the council? If you are using the council bins what do the different coloured lids mean?

Different things are special in different families. We mark these special occasions with a card. It might be for the birth of a baby, a birthday, National days, naming days or cultural celebrations.

After the big day has been celebrated and it is time to take down the cards, what will you do with them?

Cards can be used for cutting and drawing, sewing around, creating new cards and special letters. They can even be used to make a book about the special event.

Spotty eggs, stripy eggs, coloured eggs, so many eggs! 

You can decorate eggs with your child at any time of the year and many families like to do this at Easter. Your eggs can be as simple or as complicated as you like. It is best to use hard-boiled eggs for decorating. There are many ways you and your child can decorate the eggs. 

Simply draw on the eggs with wax crayons or textas. If you use warm eggs the crayons will melt onto the eggs. 

What will you draw on this egg? Which part of the egg is the top?

Children often experiment with moving their bodies in different ways. They might move in time to music or try and fit their bodies inside different spaces. Sometimes they will try and figure out how to move without using their legs and feet.

Next time you are near a hill encourage your child to experiment with different ways to roll down the hill. Can they tuck their bodies into a tight ball and roll? Can they become long and sausage-like, putting their arms above their head as they roll?

Children often love to help around the home. Establishing regular routines and ways for completing tasks helps them to be involved in the everyday activities you do as a family.

You might be surprised to discover just how much your child will enjoy taking part in your family's everyday routines.

As the seasons change the weather will change and we will see changes happening to the plants and trees in the garden. Talk to your child about the names of the seasons - spring, summer, autumn, winter - and the order they will follow. This may include looking at the calendar and highlighting the different months of the year that match the seasons.

What will you be having for lunch today and how will you serve it?

Ask your child to help you serve the food. This might include making decisions around how to cut up the fruit or the sandwich. Talk about what type of bowl or container to use. Can your child remember what tools you use to serve the spaghetti from the bowl or whether you put ice-cream into a bowl or a cone?

Talking about what you will eat for dinner and setting the table together helps children experiment with ways they can measure and compare their world. As you describe the food and how it will be served encourage your child to find differently shaped or sized cups and plates. As they do this they are learning about measurement and the ways they can compare or describe objects.

Once you have decided that as a family you are going to keep fish, go to the pet shop together to choose the type and number of fish you want. Will you be getting tropical fish that will require warm water and a heater or will you be getting cold water fish? How big is the tank you will be using? To figure out how many fish you can keep you will need to know the size of the tank.

Shadows on the wall, shadows on the ceiling…you can make shadows too.

Sit with your child and use a torch or a lamp to make shadows on the wall or ceiling.

Can you make a shadow with your hand? What about your feet?

Talk about the way shadows are made.

Your hand blocks the light from reaching the wall. That's how it makes a shadow.

Crash, bang, play and sing. Let’s make an orchestra.

Your home is full of things that you can use to make music. Your child can help you find all sorts of possibilities in the saucepan and plastics cupboards.

Saucepans and large mixing bowls make fantastic drums. They could use a wooden spoon or their hands to make music. Two saucepan lids make a pair of cymbals. A funnel makes a trumpet.

Getting your child to help you with the shopping involves a little planning. What you would normally do on your own quickly will take more time when you work together.

Make a list together before you go. You could use the junk mail. As you make the list talk about what items will be found.

We need to get milk, cheese and yogurt. They’ll be in the cold section in the last row.

It is never too early to begin singing to your baby. You can even start before they are born.

Sing songs that you know. Your baby won’t mind if you are not a great singer. You can sing about what you are doing or looking at. At bath time you could sing:

Five little ducks
Went out one day
Over the hill and far away

You could make up songs or add your baby’s name to the song.

Little Maggie had a farm
Ee i ee i oh! Ee-i-ee-i-o!

You can also sing lullabies to help your baby sleep or settle.

Often when you go to do the washing you will have a large basket of dirty clothing, towels, or sheets that need to be sorted before they can be put in the washing machine. Your child can help you to sort and group the items ready to wash. Talk to your child about the different ways that you can sort the washing, such as by colour, by material, and by function. Once you have identified how you will sort the clothing ask your child to find certain things, such as all the socks or all the green clothes.

Splish splash, I’m in the bath and having lots of fun.

Let your child play, exploring the water and how it moves as they swish their hands and legs. Let them try and scoop up the water with their hands, exploring what happens when they open their fingers. Does the water stay put or does it trickle out slowly and run back into the bath?

Winter is here and the oranges are ripe and ready to pick.

Do you or a friend have lots of oranges that you don’t know what to do with? You could make fresh orange juice.

Talk with your child about what you will need and how you will do it.

We are going to squeeze the oranges by hand using a hand juicer. We'll need to cut the oranges in half before we can squeeze the juice out of the orange.

Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight...

As the sun starts to go down and night-time approaches talk to your child about what they might see and how the sky will change.

It is very bright and sunny while the sun is in the sky. What will happen when the sun sets?

When the sun disappears what appears instead?

Will we go up? Will we go down? Can you jump from the top down to the ground?

Next time you are out and about and see some steps, encourage your child to climb them. As you help your child go up and down you could count how many steps there are or talk about which direction you are going.

Let’s start at the bottom of the steps and climb to the top.

There are 4 more steps till we reach the bottom.

There are many different ways that we share stories. It can be by talking, by showing them in a painting, drawing, weaving, or design, in photographs or by using the natural environment.

One way to help your child tell and listen to stories is to use stones. When you use stones to tell stories the tale changes, taking on many possibilities and personalities that are not just words or pictures on a page. The picture, colour or pattern on the stone becomes a page in a story.

Next time there is a pile of leaves to sweep up or it is time to sweep the kitchen floor get your child to help you. What part of the sweeping process will you ask your child to help with? Your child could sweep the leaves into a big pile with the broom while you use a dustpan and brush to put the leaves into the bin.

It has been very windy outside and there are lots of leaves on the ground. I am going to sweep them into one big pile. You can use the bucket to collect the leaves and tip them into the bin.

There are many different ways that we can communicate and talk to people. You can have a conversation with others even when you are not face-to-face or in the same room. One way is by using the phone.

Next time you are going to make a phone call talk to your child about what happens. Explain that sometimes when you ring someone they might not be able to talk. They might not be at home or are busy doing other things.

If we can’t talk to Nikita we can leave a message. Then she can ring us back later.

There are many different ways that we share stories. It can be by talking, reading a book, showing a painting, drawing, weaving or design or by using the natural environment. One way to share stories with your child is to tell them - using memory or imagination.

As you snuggle up close with your child and tell stories they will notice how your voice, face and body changes as the story develops. As the tale changes and grows - and each new character is introduced - they will hear different words and language.

There are many ways to tell a story, not only by reading a book. Many cultures share and tell their stories through painting. The colour, symbols, design and patterns included in a painting will tell you a story about that person and what is important to them.

The painting can tell you the story of where a person lives, what animals or food can be found there and who they are connected to. The symbols in the painting can even tell you the age and status of the person.

Children often experiment with water. Gather some containers, tubes and funnels and help your child experiment with how the water flows from one container to the next. Together you can explore how much water one container will hold compared to another and how quickly a container will fill up before it flows over the top.

Do you get the newspaper delivered to your home? If you do, you can talk to your child about what is in the paper and how to find different information.

The paper’s here. We can look in the entertainment section to see when the movie is on that you want to see. The content index on page 2 will tell us where to find the entertainment section.

You can thread nearly anything that has a hole in it. A hole punch is great for making holes, even in leaves. Cut a length of string, thin plastic tubing or wool. Tie something on one end so the pieces don't fall off. Try threading pasta shapes, cut-up straws, beads, leaves, shells or pieces of fabric.

Can you put this shell on the string? Can you turn it around so it fits?

The threadings can become necklaces or decorations to hang in trees or windows.

Buying new shoes for your child gives you a chance to talk about growing and changing. You can talk about why your child needs new shoes.

Are they worn out or broken, or are they too small for growing feet?

What kind of shoes do you need? Are they for summer or winter, for inside or outside, or for everyday or special events?

Will you go to a special shoe shop or to a department store or supermarket? How will you know which size shoes to buy?

Why do feet grow, anyway?

If you are going on a bus, train or tram look up the timetables with your child before you go. Talk about how you are going to get there. Will it be on the bus, on a tram or by train?

Show your child that each bus or train has its own timetable.

Which number bus are we catching? The 224 or the 225?

What time do we need to get there? How long will it take? What time do we leave home?

You might use a paper timetable, look at a timetable online or use the timetable at the bus, train or tram stop.

Spring has arrived and it’s time to plant new seedlings.

Before you plant the next lot of seedlings do you need to add more soil to the pots? Has the soil gradually disappeared leaving the pot half full?

How will you go about filling up the pots? Will you buy bags of soil from the garden centre or will you have a trailer load of soil delivered? If you get a trailer load will it be all hands on deck, shovelling and moving the soil?

We have 20 pots to fill so everyone will need to help shovel the soil.

There are many different ways that you can travel. You can walk, go by car, bus, train or even by plane.

You might walk to a place because it is close and you have enough time to get there. Other times you would travel by transport because it would take too long or is too far to walk.

Where you are going and what you will do there will help you decide how you will travel. If you are going to the supermarket and you have lots of shopping to do you probably won’t walk because you will have lots to carry home.

While you are waiting for the lift to come talk to your child about the number of the floor that you want to travel to.

Is it a high number or a low number?

Is it a number above the ground floor which means the lift will travel up or is the floor below ground level and so will go down?

Talk about how the buttons have symbols on them that will provide directions and instructions. The buttons may have numbers on them or arrows or letters.

What do the different symbols mean?

There are many different ways you can travel to a place. You could go by bus, train or tram. Next time you are travelling by public transport with your child take some time to talk about the different things that you notice around you.

Talk with your child about what you see inside the vehicle compared to outside. Inside there will be lots of different people to notice compared to outside. Point out to your child the different shapes and sizes of the people or what they are wearing.

Can you see the short man with the blue hat?

Treasure baskets are wonderful ways for babies or children to explore sensory materials. Just put some items in a basket and let your little one explore them. Stay close by but let them choose which item they want to explore and for how long. You can talk about what they are doing with each one.

How does the wool feel? Is it soft on your face? What else can you find in the basket?

Treasure hunts can be fun. Hide some sort of treasure - it doesn’t matter what. It could be a small gift or a message with a promise of a special treat, like five extra stories tonight, or a trip to feed the ducks. You will need to write some clues or directions. Write the clues or directions on individual cards. It could be ‘look in the letterbox’ and then in the letterbox it might say ‘look under the doormat’ and so on until your child finds the treasure.

All you need is a container, some water and some things to play with. Half fill a plastic tub, the bathroom sink or even a baby bath with water. Choose a few different containers and sit with your child and play together. Talk about what is happening as you measure, pour and gently splash.

How many of those cups does it take to fill the teapot? What about these little bottles?

Can you squeeze all the water out of the sponge?

Oh, no - we got wet!

Let your child help you put away the food shopping. Talk about where the food could go.

Is it cold food that goes in the fridge? Is it frozen food for the freezer or dry food for the pantry? Where should we put the fruit and vegetables? Would they all go in the same place?

Before getting the shopping out of the car try and estimate with your child how many bags of shopping there will be to carry in. Talk about how many bags each of you will have to carry. Try and predict how many trips back and forth to the car that will be. Talk about which bags are full and which are not. Will the full bags be the heaviest? Place the bags on the ground and ask your child to lift the bags up to identify which bag is heavy and which is light.

Are these all the same or are some heavier and some lighter?

You can make an obstacle course with your child inside or outside. Work together to discover what you have around home that you can use to make the obstacles. Try and build different challenges that your child can walk on, go up, over, under or through.

Make obstacles that your child can balance on. You could use something like a flat piece of wood or a masking tape line.

We need something you can balance on - what could we use? How about this piece of wood?

Are you wondering what your family can do this weekend? You could visit the Botanic Gardens.

Before you go to the gardens talk to your child about the different things you can do and see there.

Explain that the garden is divided into different sections and each section tells a story of different types of plants and where they can be found. Explain to your child that the plants are grouped into ones that are the same. Some of the plants will be in special houses because they need hot weather to grow.

Are you wondering what your family can do this weekend or during the holidays? You could visit an art gallery.

Before you go to the art gallery talk to your child about the different things you will see.

Explain that there are lots of different paintings, sculptures, statues and artworks from many different cultures. The art is grouped in different rooms or galleries and you can work out where to go and what to see by following a map.

“Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick . . .
So she rang for the doctor to come quick, quick, quick.”

Sometimes children can become ill very quickly and there is a quick rush to the doctor or the hospital. Other times it will be a planned visit – maybe for a check-up. When it is a planned visit you can talk to your child about what will happen at the doctor. Talk to them about the different people they will see at the surgery. Will there be a doctor, a nurse and other patients?

Next time you have a letter to post walk with your child to the postbox. Before you go predict what you might see along the way.

Will there be a dog today or will someone be watering their garden?

As you walk together talk about the things you notice and describe where you see them. You could count the letterboxes as you go, trying to work out what the number is and then predict what the next number will be.

Are the numbers going up or down?

Washing the dog can be a great activity on a hot day. There can be lots of discussion and negotiation as you try and wash your dog without ending up soaked.

Let’s call the dog 'Harry'.

Harry is a big dog and you will have to work hard to get him wet from head to tail.

Before starting, work out a plan about how you will wash Harry and who will do what.

Where will you start? What do you need to do first? Can you put the shampoo straight on or do you need to get Harry wet first? Who will get the water?

Do you wash the dishes in a sink or in the dishwasher? Are there times when you choose to wash the dishes rather than put them in the dishwasher?

We need to wash the saucepans as they are too big to fit in the dishwasher.

If you don’t have a dishwasher do you wash up after every meal or wait until the end of the day when there is a pile of dishes to do?

There are only 2 plates and 2 glasses from our lunch so let’s wait and wash them with the dishes from dinner.

It’s time to wash your child’s hair. Where will you start? Will you brush out the tangles first or dive straight in and get their hair wet?

Talk with your child about what you are doing. Do you wash your child’s hair as part of their bath time routine or do you wash their hair over a basin?

Can you tip your head back so the water will run down your hair and into the bowl behind you?

As you wash your child’s hair talk about how long or how thick their hair is and where you will start to wash.

Together you can look closely at hands and fingers, turning them backwards and forwards, talking about the back of your hand and the top of your hand. Talk with your child as you wash your hands together.

Let’s turn on the tap slowly to fill the sink. How many hands do you have? How many fingers do you have? Let’s put our hands in the water and wash right up to our wrists.

Now we can dry our hands and let the water drain away. Sing a song while you wash your hands, such as ‘this is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, to wash away the dirt’.

Watering the garden and pot plants is a wonderful opportunity for children to play with water and to experiment with measuring and following directions. Set up a visual schedule that shows what time of day the garden and plants will be watered. This could include a photo of a clock with the time on it or you could set a timer to sound when it is time to water the garden. Include information about which plants will be watered. Will all of the garden be watered every day or will some plants only be watered now and then?

We went walking and what did we see?
Windows - round ones, long ones, narrow ones, patterned ones and ones with writing.

We went walking and what did we hear?
Noises - birds chirping, bees buzzing, car horns tooting, people laughing, crossings beeping and lifts dinging.

We went walking and what did we feel?
Textures - rough and lumpy ones, smooth and slippery ones, sharp and prickly ones, soft and squishy ones.

We're having a baby!

The announcement of a new baby is a very exciting time and will involve a lot of talking, planning and action for the whole family. Your child can also be involved in getting organised for the arrival of your newest family member.

Talk with your child about when the baby is expected to be born and what will happen to your body as the baby grows. You could mark important dates and milestones on the calendar and encourage your child to mark off each day as the milestones get closer.

There are many different ways that you can have a car race at home. One of the most exciting ways is to build your own racetrack with blocks and found parts. Together you can experiment with different designs to see which car will make it to the bottom first in the fastest time. Sometimes if the car is travelling too fast it might crash and not finish the race.

Next time you are out and about with your child take notice of the different cars that you see. Talk about the colour, how many doors the car has, the numbers on the numberplate, or the size of the car.

That car has round headlights, but the small green one has square ones.

Sometimes you could make predictions about what you will see before you set off. Later on, you can compare to see who was right or had the closest guess.

I think we will see more red cars than green ones today.

Everyone is different and unique. How we look and dress, what we like, the things we are good at and are interested in differs for everyone.

Sometimes members of the same family can look similar. Do you all have the same hair and eye colour or is each person a little different?

The boys in our family all have blue eyes but the girls have a mixture of green and brown.

Have you ever noticed the number of different textures around us?

The rug on the bed can feel soft and cuddly, the new wool jumper might be hard and scratchy and the window after the rain could be cold and slippery.

Next time you are out or moving around the house talk to your child about how things feel.

As you help your child dress you can talk about how the clothing feels. You could try exploring the different textures of food at breakfast time.

Your leggings feel bumpy! I think it is because they are ribbed.

When you are out walking or driving the car how do you know when to stop or where to turn? Do you have to wait for someone to tell you what to do or is there something else that helps you to know?

There are signs everywhere and they help us to know what to do and how to act. When you are out and about with your child point out the different signs that you notice. Ask them if they can work out what the signs say from the picture, symbol or number on the sign.

Every day many different things happen. Some of them are planned and predictable but others just pop up.

Make time with your child at the end of each day to talk about the different things that happened. You might talk about events that you did together, ones that suddenly came up or things that happened to your child while they were at kindy or childcare.

As you talk together about your day, remember to give your child time to think and respond to what you are saying. One way to keep the conversation going is to ask questions about what happened.

Every day the weather is different and this will effect what we can do and wear. Talk to your child about the different ways that you can find out about the weather. You could listen to the weather forecast the night before on the radio, watch it on the news on the TV or read the predicted weather forecast in the paper. Looking at the predicted weather the day before will help plan what you will be able to do for the day and what to wear. You may choose to find out about the weather on the day.

Next time you are travelling in the car with your child and the radio is playing, talk about the music you can hear. Is it modern pop music with singing or is it orchestral with no singing? Are there lots of people singing and playing instruments?

This style of music is called jazz. There are different styles of jazz music. Some jazz music is older and doesn’t have any singing.

This song is a duet. It’s called that because it is sung by two people.

The holidays are nearly here and you might be wondering what you and your child can do together.

Before you talk to your child about what they want to do over the holidays, do some research to see what free activities are on.

We’ve got the whole day free today. Let’s find out what we can do.

Did you hear that? What was that? Was it a bird?

Every day your child will hear different sounds and noises around them. Sometimes they will know the sound and be able to tell you what it is. They might tell you where the noise or sound is coming from.

I can hear music outside. That’s the music from the ice-cream van.

Other times your child might hear a noise that surprises them and not be able to name what it is.

That was a very loud noise. I think it was the truck collecting the rubbish bins.

There are so many different sports teams, all with their own uniforms. Sometimes they have similar colours and designs. How do you know which team is which?

Talk to your child about the different patterns and colours of the uniforms. Sometimes the colours are the same but the design or pattern is different.

I like to follow Aussie rules. Collingwood and Hawthorn both have vertical stripes on their uniform.

Next time you are planning to go somewhere with your child talk to them about what time you need to be there. Explain that activities have a start time. You can show them how this is usually represented - with numbers written as a time.

The movie starts at 2pm so we will need to leave home at 1pm to be there in time.

Look and see if there are different start times for the event. Can you pick from one of many different times or does the event only happen once?

When you are out have you ever stopped to look at the front door of a shop or house and wondered what might be inside? You could play ‘I wonder’ or guessing games with your child to try and work out what is inside.

Sometimes it is easy to tell what is behind the door as the door is made of glass and you can see through the door. Other times it might have writing or a picture that tells you what is inside. Often it will only have a number and that doesn’t give you a clue whether it is a home for a family, a business or a shop.

You use time every day. You use it when you heat food in the microwave or organise who will have the first shower or the last. You also use time when you are planning your day, organising to meet someone or picking your child up from school.

Talk to your child about how you use time and the different ways that time can be described.

The spaghetti will only take one minute to heat - that’s not very long.

Dad is going to be late home tonight so we won’t have dinner at our normal time.

Talking to children about death is an important part of their learning. Children who are outside will often find dead creatures like birds, lizards or mice. They will want to know what happened.Sometimes it might be the family pet that has died.

Children are usually more curious than worried, so letting them look and ask questions is helpful. You don’t need to go into great detail and what you say will depend on what your beliefs are. Depending on the creature you may want to bury it and have a ceremony, but let your child have a say in the decision.

Children love maps. If you have a street directory see if you can find where you live on the map for your suburb. Work out the different routes you could take to get to places like the shops, kindy, playgroup, friend’s places or Granny’s house. Older children might like to follow the way on the map or on the GPS if you have one in the car or on your phone. Talk about street and suburb names as you look at the maps or as you program the GPS. Talk about the symbols you see on the map. Try and predict what they might be.

Autumn has finally arrived and the days and nights are cooler. With the arrival of autumn you will not only notice changes to the weather but also the time the sun rises and sets.

Autumn is a time when many changes take place in the garden. Take a walk around the garden or the neighbourhood and try to see what has changed or is different. Have the leaves on the trees started to change colours, going from green to yellows and reds? Have leaves started to fall from the trees?

Next time you are outside with your child ask them what they can see in the sky. Is it different in the morning compared to late in the afternoon or evening?

There are lots of clouds up in the sky. Can you see anything else?

It is very hot today. What can you see in the sky that helps us to keep warm?

Talk to your child about what they can see. Is it always the same? Is the sun always in the sky?

It is nearly sunset. Look at the sun – it looks closer to the ocean and lower in the sky.

The washing is dry and now it is time to put it away. You could ask your child to help you sort the washing into different piles. Start by asking your child to find their own clothes.

Let’s start by sorting the socks first. Can you find all of your socks?

As you sort through the basket of washing, talk about the different types and sizes of clothing. Explain to your child that the size can help you to work out who it belongs to.

Dida is the biggest person in our family. His jeans are a lot bigger than Benny’s jeans.

Next time you are out and about shopping with your child ask them to help you look for a spot to park the car. Will you try and find a spot in the car park or look for a park out on the street?

Talk to your child about how long you will be at the shops. Are there time restrictions that change where you park and how long you’ll stay?

We’re going to see a movie and have lunch. We will be at the shopping centre for more than 2 hours so we have to find an all-day park.

Is it time to wash your car? Your child can get involved too. All you need is the car, a bucket of soapy water, a sponge, and a towel to dry everyone with after you finish.

You have found the perfect present for that special person and now it is time to wrap it up. You can ask your child to help you.

Start by talking about the size of the present and the amount of paper you will need to cover it up. Is the present a regular shape like a box with straight sides? Or is it an irregular shape that is a mixture of curved and straight sides?

We have bought Baba shoes for his birthday. They come in a box so it will be easy to wrap.

Learning to write begins with children noticing writing around them and trying to create their own words.

You can help your child to begin to write by encouraging them to scribble and draw with a variety of tools and materials.

You could set up an area with drawing materials they can access at any time or encourage them to help you with everyday writing tasks.

We are going shopping tomorrow. Let’s write a list of what we need before we go.

Writing a card or letter is an interesting activity for children.

First think about who the letter is for and what you want to say. Is it for a birthday, is it a get well card or a postcard while you are on holiday? It could even be a letter to the child themselves. Your child can draw or write the letter. Or if your child is younger, ask them what they want you to write for them. As they get older they can copy some words that you write for them on the letter.