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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

Birth to 2 years
If your baby has started to crawl, this game will challenge them and introduce them to lots of textures.

Lay out a course using things from around your home. You can use things like different textured bathmats, some cushions to crawl over, a large box to crawl through, a footstool to crawl around or an old shower curtain or fluffy blanket to crawl on.

Encourage your baby to crawl around the obstacle course and talk to them about what they are doing.

Does that feel bumpy? Go over the cushions. You are going under the table. There you are!
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
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.
3 to 5 years
Your family has finished their meal together and now it’s time to clean up. Who is going to clear it all away? You could ask your child to help.
Talk with your child about where to start. Do you need to pack away the plates and other things from the table first? Is it possible to just wipe the table straightaway?
We need to put away the containers and dishes before we can wipe the table clean.
You can put the serviettes into the rubbish bin while I carry the heavy plates to the kitchen sink.
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.
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
The first day of starting anything new can be a very stressful time your child. As the big day approaches, talk about what might happen, who will be there and what they can do if a problem occurs. Creating routines and having a dry run can help to reduce anxiety as your child will begin to understand what to expect.
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
What’s the time? Is it time for bed?
Getting ready for bed is a wonderful opportunity to explore time and to look at the way we combine events together into a sequence. As bedtime approaches talk about what time your child will go to bed and how they know when that is. Is their bedtime 6pm - at the end of a favourite program? Or is it at the end of the evening meal?
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
It’s bath time and there is a lot to do to get ready. You can talk to your child about all the different choices that happen as part of getting ready.
How hot will the water be and how deep will you fill the bath? How many children will be in the bath together? If there is more than one, does this change how much water you need for the bath? Are you going to add bubble bath to the water? When does the bubble bath go in?
Once all the bath time choices have been made, talk about what happens and when.
3 to 5 years
It’s the end of the week and work and school is over. What will you do on the weekend? Do you have plans or will you take it easy and catch up on jobs around the house?Talk with your child about the weekend routine or what you’ve got planned. Are there regular things that you do like football or the shopping? Do you wait to see what the weather will be before planning what you will do?Jake’s got football Saturday morning at 8’o clock. After the game we can go and play at the playground.
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:
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.
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.
Birth to 5 years
Let’s make a sandcastle that reaches to the sky with turrets and bridges and a moat for boats to sail in.
Before starting, talk to your child about what you will need. Will you use a bucket and wet sand to make the main building of the castle? Can you just pile lots of sand in the middle and then smooth it over?
Let’s use the very big bucket to make the main castle building. We need to dig down to get the wet sand buried under the ground. Keep filling the bucket with sand up to the very top.
3 to 5 years
A new year is traditionally a time for celebration. Different cultures have their own ways to celebrate but most see the end of one year and the start of another as a special time. Children enjoy the celebrations and parties along with everyone else. Many people celebrate New Year’s Eve on December 31st with parties. Lunar New Year is celebrated by many Asian cultures and the date and way it is celebrated can vary.
Birth to 5 years
Talk to your child about what they might want to eat when at kindy or childcare.How many things is that? Will they fit inside the shape of the lunch box? Do some of the things need to go into the fridge or will they all stay in your lunch box till lunchtime?
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.
3 to 5 years
Planting a small vegetable and herb garden with your child gives them a chance to experience the sensation of soil on their hands. Together you can make choices about what to plant and you will be able to observe the changes as the plants grow and begin to produce fruit, vegetables or herbs.
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.
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
As the seasons change the weather will change and we will see changes happening to the plants and trees in the garden. Talk to your child about the names of the seasons - spring, summer, autumn, winter - and the order they will follow. This may include looking at the calendar and highlighting the different months of the year that match the seasons.
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.
Birth to 5 years
You can thread nearly anything that has a hole in it. A hole punch is great for making holes, even in leaves. Cut a length of string, thin plastic tubing or wool. Tie something on one end so the pieces don't fall off. Try threading pasta shapes, cut-up straws, beads, leaves, shells or pieces of fabric.
Can you put this shell on the string? Can you turn it around so it fits?
The threadings can become necklaces or decorations to hang in trees or windows.
Birth to 5 years
Washing the dog can be a great activity on a hot day. There can be lots of discussion and negotiation as you try and wash your dog without ending up soaked.
Let’s call the dog 'Harry'.
Harry is a big dog and you will have to work hard to get him wet from head to tail.
Before starting, work out a plan about how you will wash Harry and who will do what.
Where will you start? What do you need to do first? Can you put the shampoo straight on or do you need to get Harry wet first? Who will get the water?
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.