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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

Birth to 5 years
Your child can learn a lot when cooking with you. Why not make a cake together?What does the recipe ask for? Do you have all the ingredients?Can you see if we have some milk and 4 eggs in the fridge? How much flour do we have? Is the jar full or getting empty? While you are making the cake, read out the recipe for your child to follow. Show them the numbers and words in the recipe. 
Birth to 5 years
Most children love to challenge themselves physically and explore the different ways they can move around, through and over different objects. You might find your child likes to try and balance on or along lines or other surfaces.Next time you are outside with your child or walking somewhere, encourage them to try a bit of balancing. Can they balance along a line on the footpath, on a low brick wall or on one leg?
Birth to 5 years
Children are natural noticers and collectors of bits. It might be a feather found at the park or a pebble from the beach. They may have a special interest in something and collect as many different bits and pieces as they can.
The toy catalogue has arrived in the letterbox. Hunt through it and see if you can find any pictures of cars you can add to your collection.
Talk to your child about what they have collected and the different things they liked about it. It might be the colour or the shape or how it feels on their hand.
3 to 5 years
Many cultures share and tell their stories through the colour, designs, placement and patterns printed or woven into their fabric and cloth.
The fabric can tell you the story of where a person lives, what animals or food can be found in the environment and who they are connected to. It can even tell you the age and status of the person wearing the cloth.
Next time you are out and about try to find some interesting or unusual fabrics to talk about. You can also look in a book.
3 to 5 years
To watch a bulb grow, roots and all, it is best to grow it in a jar, instead of outside in the garden.
Choose which bulbs you want to grow. When you choose the bulb, talk about it with your child, looking together at the pictures on the packet.
Let’s look at these bulbs on the stand. Which one should we choose? This is a hyacinth and has blue flowers. This one is a daffodil. It has a yellow flower. Should we grow more than one kind?
When you get them home put them in the vegetable drawer of your fridge for a few weeks.
3 to 5 years
A vegetable that is taller than you…
Sweet corn is an easy food to grow and you can grow it in your garden or in a pot.
In September or October choose a place in your garden that is warm and sunny. Dig the soil so that it is ready for planting and water it. Talk with your child about why the plants need good soil and sun to grow.
We need to make sure the roots of the corn can grow deep into the soil.
3 to 5 years
Wheat sprouts can grow in just a couple of weeks and your child will be able to watch them change from day to day.Put the wheat in a bowl, cover it with water and let it soak for two days. Watch what happens. Does it look any different? You will need to change the water every day.Let’s use the strainer to pour out the water. Why does the strainer let the water through but not the wheat?Pour some more water in gently so it covers all of the wheat.
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?
Birth to 5 years
Is it full, is it empty, is it nearly to the top, can you squish one more in before it pops?​When you are unpacking and putting away the shopping with your child, talk about the capacity or volume of the jars you have bought. Which jar is bigger and holds more? Are all of the jars full to the top or could some of the jars hold more? How do you know what size the jar is? Sometimes a jar or container can look bigger than another, but is it? How do you know?Once all of the jars have been unpacked, talk about your own storage containers.
Birth to 5 years
Yesterday you planted new seedlings in the garden and today when you look they are not there.
Where do you think they went? Did a giant rabbit sneak into the garden at night and take them home for dinner?
The insects and bugs have been eating our seedling during the night. We need to go bug hunting in our garden to find them.
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.
3 to 5 years
Children delight in finding surprises and these blocks are a way of keeping your child interested as they try to free the surprise in the iceblock.
Partially fill a milk carton or small plastic container with water. Add a plastic creature or other surprise such as a shell, leaves or even flowers. Freeze it overnight and turn out the iceblock in the morning. Talk to your child about the different ways they could free the surprise.
How can you get the surprise out of the iceblock?
Birth to 5 years
The weather has changed and it’s time to see if last year’s clothing still fits.
Summer has finally ended and the nights are getting cold. I think it is time to change to winter pyjamas. We will have to see if last year’s still fit.
Talk with your child about the different ways you can work out if their clothing will fit. Do they need to try it on? Can you just hold it up against them to see if it is still big enough?
Birth to 5 years
The rain has fallen, the sun is out and everyone’s keen to get out the door and go.
What do you do when you get out and everything is wet and damp? You could go on a discovery walk. Talk about the different things you might see or find.
The rain is dripping off the tip of the leaf.
Are there different creatures that come out after the rain? Have things fallen out of the trees that you would not normally see? Are there puddles with floating leaves or sticks?
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.
3 to 5 years
Many communities light up the night sky by holding a festival of lights.Your community might celebrate the festival of light by stringing fairy lights through trees, illuminating buildings with different coloured lights or turning the lights on and off in time to music. Sometimes it starts with all the lights in the community being switched off and then turned back on after a countdown to begin the festival.
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
Look, up in the sky - what can you see?

Take some time to encourage your child to stop and look up while you are out walking or lying on the grass.

Talk about what you see. Clouds are always changing. Sometimes they are white, sometimes shades of grey.

There are lots of clouds today. Are they big, fluffy clouds or long thin ones? What colour are they?

You can also talk about why the clouds are different colours or about how they are moving.
3 to 5 years
Lunar New Year is celebrated by many Asian cultures. It is usually in January or February, begins on the night of the new moon and continues until the moon is full 15 days later. Dragons and lions, food, the colour red, and money are all part of the celebrations. Like many other cultures, the New Year is a time for a fresh start and it is important to clean the house, have a haircut and buy new clothes. The Lunar New Year is also about good luck for the year ahead and this is celebrated in many ways:
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
There are shadows all around us - some are inside and some are outside.On a sunny day show your child their shadow on the ground.What happens to the shadow when you move? Can you run away from your shadow? How do you know it is your shadow?Talk with your child about how shadows are formed. Does the shadow change with the sky? Take your child outside at night or when it is cloudy and talk about the differences.
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?
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?
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.
3 to 5 years
I went to visit the city one day and spied North Terrace along the way. What else do you think I spied that day?I spied with my little eye lots of different statues – tall ones, short ones, ones with people, some with horses and one person sitting.I spied with my little eye lots of buildings – ones to live in, some to shop in, ones to read in, some to look in, one with paintings and one with dinosaurs.
3 to 5 years
Stripes, spots, squares and checks - patterns are all around us.Next time you are out walking with your child look for the patterns around you. A pattern is s ordered and predictable, but it might not be even. It could be bricks in a wall or crooked paving stones. Show your child how some things form patterns.Look, the slats in the seat make a stripy pattern. A stripe of wood, then a space, a stripe of wood, then a space. That makes a pattern.See if they can find their own patterns.
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?
Birth to 2 years
Next time you have a few minutes or you are waiting for the bus to arrive play peekaboo with your baby. You can play using your hands to cover your face. You can also hide behind a book or a paper and pop out from behind it.
Before you start make sure you are facing your baby and have their attention. Try and keep your baby’s attention by changing the noise you make and your facial expression.
Peekaboo!
Encourage your child to join in by helping them to cover their own face with their hands.
3 to 5 years
Shadows on the wall, shadows on the ceiling…you can make shadows too.
Sit with your child and use a torch or a lamp to make shadows on the wall or ceiling.
Can you make a shadow with your hand? What about your feet?
Talk about the way shadows are made.
Your hand blocks the light from reaching the wall. That's how it makes a shadow.
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
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
There are many different ways you can travel to a place. You could go by bus, train or tram. Next time you are travelling by public transport with your child take some time to talk about the different things that you notice around you.
Talk with your child about what you see inside the vehicle compared to outside. Inside there will be lots of different people to notice compared to outside. Point out to your child the different shapes and sizes of the people or what they are wearing.
Can you see the short man with the blue hat?
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.
3 to 5 years
Are you wondering what your family can do this weekend or during the holidays? You could visit an art gallery.
Before you go to the art gallery talk to your child about the different things you will see.
Explain that there are lots of different paintings, sculptures, statues and artworks from many different cultures. The art is grouped in different rooms or galleries and you can work out where to go and what to see by following a map.
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
Next time you are out and about with your child take notice of the different cars that you see. Talk about the colour, how many doors the car has, the numbers on the numberplate, or the size of the car.
That car has round headlights, but the small green one has square ones.
Sometimes you could make predictions about what you will see before you set off. Later on, you can compare to see who was right or had the closest guess.
I think we will see more red cars than green ones today.
Birth to 5 years
Everyone is different and unique. How we look and dress, what we like, the things we are good at and are interested in differs for everyone.Sometimes members of the same family can look similar. Do you all have the same hair and eye colour or is each person a little different?The boys in our family all have blue eyes but the girls have a mixture of green and brown.
Birth to 5 years
Have you ever noticed the number of different textures around us?The rug on the bed can feel soft and cuddly, the new wool jumper might be hard and scratchy and the window after the rain could be cold and slippery.Next time you are out or moving around the house talk to your child about how things feel.As you help your child dress you can talk about how the clothing feels. You could try exploring the different textures of food at breakfast time.Your leggings feel bumpy! I think it is because they are ribbed.
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
There are so many different sports teams, all with their own uniforms. Sometimes they have similar colours and designs. How do you know which team is which?
Talk to your child about the different patterns and colours of the uniforms. Sometimes the colours are the same but the design or pattern is different.
I like to follow Aussie rules. Collingwood and Hawthorn both have vertical stripes on their uniform.
3 to 5 years
When you are out have you ever stopped to look at the front door of a shop or house and wondered what might be inside? You could play ‘I wonder’ or guessing games with your child to try and work out what is inside.
Sometimes it is easy to tell what is behind the door as the door is made of glass and you can see through the door. Other times it might have writing or a picture that tells you what is inside. Often it will only have a number and that doesn’t give you a clue whether it is a home for a family, a business or a shop.
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
Autumn has finally arrived and the days and nights are cooler. With the arrival of autumn you will not only notice changes to the weather but also the time the sun rises and sets.
Autumn is a time when many changes take place in the garden. Take a walk around the garden or the neighbourhood and try to see what has changed or is different. Have the leaves on the trees started to change colours, going from green to yellows and reds? Have leaves started to fall from the trees?
Birth to 5 years
Next time you are outside with your child ask them what they can see in the sky. Is it different in the morning compared to late in the afternoon or evening?There are lots of clouds up in the sky. Can you see anything else?It is very hot today. What can you see in the sky that helps us to keep warm?Talk to your child about what they can see. Is it always the same? Is the sun always in the sky?It is nearly sunset. Look at the sun – it looks closer to the ocean and lower in the sky.
Birth to 5 years
The washing is dry and now it is time to put it away. You could ask your child to help you sort the washing into different piles. Start by asking your child to find their own clothes.
Let’s start by sorting the socks first. Can you find all of your socks?
As you sort through the basket of washing, talk about the different types and sizes of clothing. Explain to your child that the size can help you to work out who it belongs to.
Dida is the biggest person in our family. His jeans are a lot bigger than Benny’s jeans.