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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

Birth to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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?
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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:
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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!
3 to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
“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?