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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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. 
Birth to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
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
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
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
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?
Birth to 5 years
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?
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
Birth to 5 years
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?
3 to 5 years
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?
Birth to 5 years
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?
Birth to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
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
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.
3 to 5 years
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?
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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.