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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

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