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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

3 to 5 years
Hop, hop, hop and stop Help your child to draw a hopscotch course with chalk on cement. You can make the course as long as you like, but it usually has about 8 or 10 squares. Draw a set of single and double squares - like a ladder, but with extra bits. Write a number on each square of the course.Let’s write 1 on the first square and 2 on the next square. What number comes after that?Once the hopscotch course is set up you’re ready to go. Talk about the game with your child as they play.
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
Blowing bubbles can be a fun activity to do on a very windy day. Watch the wind catch the bubbles and lift them high into the air. Try and track an individual bubble. As the wind catches the bubble and lifts it higher make predictions as to how high it will climb.
Will it climb over the fence or even over the roof of the house?
Hold and point the bubble blower differently and watch to see if the bubbles travel in different directions. Does it make a difference or will the wind still catch the bubble and float it quickly up into the air?
3 to 5 years
There is so much to remember in a day, a week, a month and a year. How do you keep track of what needs to happen and when? One way is to record an event on a calendar.Talk to your child about all of the different events that happen over the year. Explain that some things we can remember because they are regular events and happen every day or week. Other things are harder to remember because they are irregular, changing or one-off events. When you record an event, time and place on the calendar it helps you to remember and plan what you need to do.
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
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
There’s something in the letterbox!Junk mail that arrives in your letterbox might look like rubbish to you, but children love it. Next time you find catalogues in the mail take some time to look at them with your child.Let’s see what these are about. What can you see on this page?You can use food catalogues to plan your meals for the week. Talk with your child about favourite foods and new foods.What should we have for lunch tomorrow? Do you want strawberries or mangoes?
3 to 5 years
Football and sporting finals are a very important event for many families as they are a celebration of the hard work and achievement of the team over the past year. You may have a member of the family playing in the team or your favourite football team may be playing.
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 smaller or bigger? Will it fit or not? How will I know if it fits in the box?When you are doing things with your child point out the different sizes of objects. Get them to compare them to things that they know are really big, like an elephant, or really small, like an ant.Which is taller - the building with 100 windows or the tomato plant?Would an ant’s feet be smaller or bigger than yours?
3 to 5 years
When you are out shopping with your child talk about the cost of items, explaining that you need to pay for them before you can take it home.
Talk to your child about the different ways that you can pay for something. You might pay using cash or by EFTPOS or credit card. Talk about why you have chosen to pay that way. Explain that if you pay by cash there might be change that could be a mixture of notes and coins.
I am going to pay cash for the pie because I have enough money in my purse.
Birth to 5 years
You can help your child learn about growing by measuring their height over time.
Have your child stand next to the door jamb. They need to stand straight and tall. Rest a ruler or book on your child’s head - touching it lightly against the wall - and use a pencil to mark their height. Measure the distance from the floor to the mark using a tape measure or a ruler. Write your child's height and the date next to the mark on the wall. Don’t forget to measure everyone in the family - even the grown-ups and the dog!
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
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
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.
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
Many cultures use an Advent calendar in the days leading up to Christmas. You could buy one but making one can be more fun. There are many ideas for simple calendars on the internet. One idea is to have 24 envelopes with each one containing an idea of something to do on that day. The ideas could include: make a wish list of presents, write some cards, read a special story, make a decoration, go for a walk to look at Christmas lights, do some cooking, sing some Christmas songs, and so on.
Birth to 5 years
When you and your child are playing outside see how many different ways can you move your body.
How many jumps or hops can you do on your right leg and can you do the same amount on your left leg? Can you keep a ball or balloon in the air for one minute before it touches the ground?
How quickly can you crawl to the back fence and then hop to the side gate?
Did you do it faster yesterday than today?
3 to 5 years
Have you ever noticed how many numbers there are around you? Next time you and your child are out walking take a look and see how many you can find.You might find numbers in surprising places. Remember to look up high and down low. Look on letterboxes and doors, gates and fences.There’s a number on that fencepost. Can you read it?Talk about why houses and buildings have numbers. Can you work out the patterns?This is number 3, then comes 5, then comes 7. What will the next one be?
3 to 5 years
Get ready, get set, go!

There are lots of different ways that you can have races at home, at the park or at the beach. You can race against each other or just against the clock.

You and your child can run, jump or hop over a set distance.

How fast can you run from here to the tree? Can you get there as fast if you hop? What about if you crawl?

Reusable grocery bags make excellent sacks for a sack race. Just get your child to step inside, pull the handles up tightly and jump.
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.
3 to 5 years
Next time you get a bill, talk about it with your child. What is it for? It might be for work you had done, something you ordered online or from when you last ate out as a family.Explain that the purchase or service received will be described using words, symbols and numbers. These help to tell you how much you have to pay, what you are paying for, when you need to pay and the quantity you are buying.This is the bill for dinner. It says that we ate 3 serves of fish and chips, 1 serve of pasta, an entree of squid and a bottle of sparkling water.
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?
3 to 5 years
Next time you are travelling in the car or going for a walk with your child, point out the different traffic signs. Why are they there? What do they tell you to do?There are traffic lights outside the school. They tell us to slow down and drive at 25km.As you notice the different signs try and sort or group them into ones that are the same.Those are crossing lights. They help pedestrians to safely cross the road.
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
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
If you are going on a bus, train or tram look up the timetables with your child before you go. Talk about how you are going to get there. Will it be on the bus, on a tram or by train?
Show your child that each bus or train has its own timetable.
Which number bus are we catching? The 224 or the 225?
What time do we need to get there? How long will it take? What time do we leave home?
You might use a paper timetable, look at a timetable online or use the timetable at the bus, train or tram stop.
Birth to 5 years
Spring has arrived and it’s time to plant new seedlings.
Before you plant the next lot of seedlings do you need to add more soil to the pots? Has the soil gradually disappeared leaving the pot half full?
How will you go about filling up the pots? Will you buy bags of soil from the garden centre or will you have a trailer load of soil delivered? If you get a trailer load will it be all hands on deck, shovelling and moving the soil?
We have 20 pots to fill so everyone will need to help shovel the soil.
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?
Birth to 5 years
All you need is a container, some water and some things to play with. Half fill a plastic tub, the bathroom sink or even a baby bath with water. Choose a few different containers and sit with your child and play together. Talk about what is happening as you measure, pour and gently splash.How many of those cups does it take to fill the teapot? What about these little bottles?Can you squeeze all the water out of the sponge?Oh, no - we got wet!
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
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?
Birth to 5 years
Together you can look closely at hands and fingers, turning them backwards and forwards, talking about the back of your hand and the top of your hand. Talk with your child as you wash your hands together.
Let’s turn on the tap slowly to fill the sink. How many hands do you have? How many fingers do you have? Let’s put our hands in the water and wash right up to our wrists.
Now we can dry our hands and let the water drain away. Sing a song while you wash your hands, such as ‘this is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, to wash away the dirt’.
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.
Birth to 5 years
Is it time to wash your car? Your child can get involved too. All you need is the car, a bucket of soapy water, a sponge, and a towel to dry everyone with after you finish.