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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

Birth to 5 years
Children are naturally inquisitive and want to know about the world and what is happening around them. The way they express their wonder and curiosity is by asking questions.
Your child might ask questions about what they see and hear or about where you are going.
Where does the sun go at night?
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.
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
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
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.
Birth to 5 years
Let's party!

Friday night could be party time at your house. First set the scene. Where will the dance party be? Do you need to move some furniture? Have you got music? Do you have some coloured lights?

Let’s move the chairs out of the way. They’re heavy so we’ll need to push hard.

Put the music on and dance with your children. Think of lots of ways to move and let the music guide you.
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.
Birth to 5 years
I spy with my little eye something that is green, soft and found outside!
Next time you are waiting for an appointment, have some spare time, or travelling on the bus, play I-spy with your child.
There are many different ways you can play I-spy. You might play using the first letter of the word, the colour and shape of the object or what you use it for. How you play will change depending on your child’s age and how interested they are.
I spy with my little eye something I can drink with.
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.
3 to 5 years
Children naturally want to move and be active and will try out different ways for their bodies to move. You can combine language with your child’s natural interest in moving.As you talk, sing or chant with your child you can combine action rhymes and words with movement patterns. Take turns leading the rhyming and instructions. You could make up nonsense words that rhyme.Stand up tall and then curl up small.Run to the hall and then roll like a ball.
Birth to 5 years
We went to visit the city one day and caught a tram along the way. What do you think we noticed that day?Lots of different noises – car horns tooting, trucks reversing, clocks chiming, people talking, water rushing and tram bells sounding.Lots of shiny windows – different shaped ones, reflective ones, open ones, ones with writing and ones you can see through.Lots of signs – traffic signs, pedestrian signs, advertising, stop signs and shop signs.Lots of people moving – quickly, slowly, riding, driving, holding hands and carrying bags.
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
Crash, bang, play and sing. Let’s make an orchestra.Your home is full of things that you can use to make music. Your child can help you find all sorts of possibilities in the saucepan and plastics cupboards.Saucepans and large mixing bowls make fantastic drums. They could use a wooden spoon or their hands to make music. Two saucepan lids make a pair of cymbals. A funnel makes a trumpet.
3 to 5 years
There are many different ways that we can communicate and talk to people. You can have a conversation with others even when you are not face-to-face or in the same room. One way is by using the phone.Next time you are going to make a phone call talk to your child about what happens. Explain that sometimes when you ring someone they might not be able to talk. They might not be at home or are busy doing other things.If we can’t talk to Nikita we can leave a message. Then she can ring us back later.
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
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.
3 to 5 years
Do you get the newspaper delivered to your home? If you do, you can talk to your child about what is in the paper and how to find different information.
The paper’s here. We can look in the entertainment section to see when the movie is on that you want to see. The content index on page 2 will tell us where to find the entertainment section.
Birth to 5 years
We went walking and what did we see?Windows - round ones, long ones, narrow ones, patterned ones and ones with writing.We went walking and what did we hear?Noises - birds chirping, bees buzzing, car horns tooting, people laughing, crossings beeping and lifts dinging.We went walking and what did we feel?Textures - rough and lumpy ones, smooth and slippery ones, sharp and prickly ones, soft and squishy ones.
Birth to 5 years
We're having a baby!The announcement of a new baby is a very exciting time and will involve a lot of talking, planning and action for the whole family. Your child can also be involved in getting organised for the arrival of your newest family member.Talk with your child about when the baby is expected to be born and what will happen to your body as the baby grows. You could mark important dates and milestones on the calendar and encourage your child to mark off each day as the milestones get closer.
Birth to 5 years
Every day many different things happen. Some of them are planned and predictable but others just pop up.Make time with your child at the end of each day to talk about the different things that happened. You might talk about events that you did together, ones that suddenly came up or things that happened to your child while they were at kindy or childcare.As you talk together about your day, remember to give your child time to think and respond to what you are saying. One way to keep the conversation going is to ask questions about what happened.
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.
Birth to 5 years
Did you hear that? What was that? Was it a bird?
Every day your child will hear different sounds and noises around them. Sometimes they will know the sound and be able to tell you what it is. They might tell you where the noise or sound is coming from.
I can hear music outside. That’s the music from the ice-cream van.
Other times your child might hear a noise that surprises them and not be able to name what it is.
That was a very loud noise. I think it was the truck collecting the rubbish bins.
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
Children love maps. If you have a street directory see if you can find where you live on the map for your suburb. Work out the different routes you could take to get to places like the shops, kindy, playgroup, friend’s places or Granny’s house. Older children might like to follow the way on the map or on the GPS if you have one in the car or on your phone. Talk about street and suburb names as you look at the maps or as you program the GPS. Talk about the symbols you see on the map. Try and predict what they might be.