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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

3 to 5 years
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.A large shallow box can be a road with a car park. Encourage your child to draw a road inside the box. Draw some car parking spaces nearby. Line up your child’s toy cars and go.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Birth to 5 years
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.
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.
3 to 5 years
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.
3 to 5 years
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?
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.