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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

Birth to 5 years
Jump like a kangaroo, hop like a frog Next time your child is up and moving around, challenge them to a game of imagination.Can you jump like a kangaroo? How does a frog jump?How many different animals can you and your child pretend to be?Try and think of ones that move in different ways. Some are really tall. Some move on two legs and some on four. Some move slowly and some are fast. Some are big and some are small. How will your child need to move their arms and legs to be a tall creature? What about a scary one?
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.
Birth to 2 years
Next time your baby needs their nappy changed use the time to sing songs and to talk to them. As you change your baby’s nappy, name the different parts of their body and talk about what they can use them for.
Here are your feet. They are good for jumping and kicking the ball.
Birth to 5 years
Cleaning our teeth is something that we do at least once every day. Some families have a routine of cleaning their teeth after every meal while other families may clean their teeth in the morning and then at night before they go to bed. Talking to your child as you clean their teeth - or as they try themselves - is a wonderful opportunity to use positional and directional language. Talk about where you will start cleaning.
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
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.
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.
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.
Birth to 5 years
Quick! It’s time to go. We will be late for school. But where are your shoes and socks?
Encouraging your child to find their shoes and socks helps them to develop listening and navigation skills.
Talk to your child about where their shoes and socks might be. Is there a special place where all of the shoes are kept?
Your shoes are by the front door. We took them off before we came inside.
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
What will you wear today?There are plenty of decisions to make when you help your child get dressed in the morning.
What are you doing today?Does what you do change what you will wear? Is it a day at home or a going out day?
Today we are going to playgroup so you’ll need to wear clothes you can play in.
What is the weather like today?You can find out by looking at the weather forecast or just looking out the window.
It will be cold outside so what will you need to wear - a jumper or a T-shirt?
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
Quick, get ready. It’s time to go.
Leaving the house and getting into the car can involve a lot of talking and planning. Where will everyone sit? Are there special seats for different people in the car? Does where you sit change if there are more or less people in the car?
We’re going to school. We have to fit four of us in the car. All of the bags will need to go in the boot.
Your seat is in the back behind the driver’s seat. You have your own special seat to sit in.
3 to 5 years
The holidays are approaching - are you going away? If you are, talk to your child about where you are going and the jobs that need to be done before you go. We are going camping for Easter. We can’t take the dog and cat with us so we need to organise someone to look after them while we are away. We are going on a big trip to Queensland for 2 weeks. It is going to be very hot and we can swim. We need to pack our bathers and take clothing for hot weather.
3 to 5 years
The washing is done, the sun is shining and now it’s time to hang it out. Your child could help you do this.
Put the bucket of pegs and the basket of washing on the ground where your child can reach them. Ask your child to find different items of clothing. As they find each one see if they can work out how many pegs are needed to hang them on the line.
Can you find the spotty socks and the purple shorts? How many pegs will we need to hang them up?
3 to 5 years
Many special things happen every day but some are so important that the whole family wants to celebrate. It might be the birth of a child, a birthday, a special cultural event, a new job, a change in seasons or winning an award.Talk to your child about the special event and how you will celebrate it. Is it a traditional celebration with customs to follow and special food to cook? Can the family choose how to celebrate because it’s a one-off event?
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
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
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
It’s time to go off to the shops and do the shopping. Have you checked that they’re open? How could you find out?
We need to buy pita, hummus and stuffed vine leaves. I am not sure what time the shop opens. I might ring and see if they are open yet.
Explain to your child that shops have opening and closing hours and they can all be different. Some shops will open very early in the morning. Other shops are only open later in the day.
The supermarket market is open 7 days a week and starts trading at 7 in the morning.
Birth to 5 years
Packing up time can be turned into a fun learning experience when you and your child share the task together. Talk about where each toy belongs before you put it away, so that your child is able to predict where to place items.We have lots of different toys to pack away. We can put the blocks in the basket and the cars in the bucket. We can roll up the car mat and pop it behind the toy box.Turn the task into a game by setting some challenges.
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
Is it a plane, is it a bird, is it Superman? No, it’s a jumbo jet bringing families home!
Often when you are outside or travelling around with your child they will notice a plane in the sky. When they do, talk to them about what they can see.
Can you see the plane flying in front of the cloud? Do you think it is a big plane or a small one?
That is a very big plane. How many engines can you see on it?
3 to 5 years
The sun has been shining, the plants have all grown and now it is time to prune. Talk with your child about which plants need to be pruned and how you will do it. Do they need to be cut in a special way or can you decide how much you want to cut off?The roses have flowered and we need to cut off the dead heads so more buds will grow.It is very difficult to walk down the path by the side of the house as the bushes have grown too big. We need to cut them back to the edge of the path.
Birth to 5 years
Shoes and socks sometimes need to go on quickly, but when you have a few extra minutes putting on shoes and socks can be a wonderful opportunity to explore direction, space and the type of footwear you need for different events or weather conditions.
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?
3 to 5 years
Children often love to help around the home. Establishing regular routines and ways for completing tasks helps them to be involved in the everyday activities you do as a family.
You might be surprised to discover just how much your child will enjoy taking part in your family's everyday routines.
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?
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.
3 to 5 years
Getting your child to help you with the shopping involves a little planning. What you would normally do on your own quickly will take more time when you work together.
Make a list together before you go. You could use the junk mail. As you make the list talk about what items will be found.
We need to get milk, cheese and yogurt. They’ll be in the cold section in the last row.
Birth to 5 years
Splish splash, I’m in the bath and having lots of fun.Let your child play, exploring the water and how it moves as they swish their hands and legs. Let them try and scoop up the water with their hands, exploring what happens when they open their fingers. Does the water stay put or does it trickle out slowly and run back into the bath?
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
Will we go up? Will we go down? Can you jump from the top down to the ground?
Next time you are out and about and see some steps, encourage your child to climb them. As you help your child go up and down you could count how many steps there are or talk about which direction you are going.
Let’s start at the bottom of the steps and climb to the top.
There are 4 more steps till we reach the bottom.
3 to 5 years
There are many ways to tell a story, not only by reading a book. Many cultures share and tell their stories through painting. The colour, symbols, design and patterns included in a painting will tell you a story about that person and what is important to them.
The painting can tell you the story of where a person lives, what animals or food can be found there and who they are connected to. The symbols in the painting can even tell you the age and status of the person.
Birth to 5 years
While you are waiting for the lift to come talk to your child about the number of the floor that you want to travel to.
Is it a high number or a low number?
Is it a number above the ground floor which means the lift will travel up or is the floor below ground level and so will go down?
Talk about how the buttons have symbols on them that will provide directions and instructions. The buttons may have numbers on them or arrows or letters.
What do the different symbols mean?
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
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?
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
Next time you have a letter to post walk with your child to the postbox. Before you go predict what you might see along the way.Will there be a dog today or will someone be watering their garden?As you walk together talk about the things you notice and describe where you see them. You could count the letterboxes as you go, trying to work out what the number is and then predict what the next number will be.Are the numbers going up or down?
3 to 5 years
When you are out walking or driving the car how do you know when to stop or where to turn? Do you have to wait for someone to tell you what to do or is there something else that helps you to know?
There are signs everywhere and they help us to know what to do and how to act. When you are out and about with your child point out the different signs that you notice. Ask them if they can work out what the signs say from the picture, symbol or number on the sign.
3 to 5 years
Next time you are out and about shopping with your child ask them to help you look for a spot to park the car. Will you try and find a spot in the car park or look for a park out on the street?
Talk to your child about how long you will be at the shops. Are there time restrictions that change where you park and how long you’ll stay?
We’re going to see a movie and have lunch. We will be at the shopping centre for more than 2 hours so we have to find an all-day park.