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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

Birth to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
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
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.
Birth to 5 years
The rain has fallen, the sun is out and everyone’s keen to get out the door and go.
What do you do when you get out and everything is wet and damp? You could go on a discovery walk. Talk about the different things you might see or find.
The rain is dripping off the tip of the leaf.
Are there different creatures that come out after the rain? Have things fallen out of the trees that you would not normally see? Are there puddles with floating leaves or sticks?
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
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
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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?
Birth to 2 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
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
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?
Birth to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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?
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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?