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GreatStart activities – learning with your child

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.
Birth to 5 years
There are many different activities that you can do at the beach and talking to your child about what they would like to do will help you to decide what type of beach you will go to.
The beach can be a very relaxing and restful place where you can talk, read, build sandcastles and lie on the sand. It can also be very active and involve going for long walks, running, playing or swimming.
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?
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?
Birth to 5 years
Let’s build.
What shall we create? Will it be a zoo for the wild animals or a house for the snails from the garden to hide in? Maybe we can stack and stack and stack the blocks until they reach the sky!
Talk with your child about what they want to make. What resources will they need? Can your child use the blocks and toys they have or do they need different things?
Let’s build a cave for the bear to sleep in. We will need to collect sticks and stones to make the cave.
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.
3 to 5 years
It’s time to change the sheets and make the bed. This time, you could ask your child to help you.
Where will you start? Will you ask them to take off the sheets or put the fresh, clean ones on?
As you work together, talk about what you are doing and where you will start.
We are going to start at the base and work up. Let’s put the fitted sheet on first and then we will do the quilt cover.
When we put the quilt cover on, the buttons go at the top of the quilt, closest to the pillows.
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.
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 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
Are we digging to China or a tunnel under the sea?
Digging can be done just about anywhere. You can do it in your backyard, at the park or the beach, or in the kitchen when you dig out a scoop of ice-cream.
You and your child can get creative and make tunnels that travel from one country to another. Your child could help you dig a hole to plant a new lemon tree, make a trench for a stormwater pipe or get a new garden bed ready for the veggies.
Birth to 5 years
Children explore how things fit and connect together from a very young age. You might see this when your child tries to slot the car keys into different locks around the house or when they pull everything out of the cupboard and try and fit it back in.
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
Is there a park with a pond near where you live? Are there ducks at the pond? Next time you visit take some duck food with you to feed the ducks.
It’s a sunny day. Let’s go and feed the ducks down at the pond. I wonder how many ducks will be there today.
Talk about the location of the pond. Is it in the middle of the park? Or is it on the edge of the park next to the car park?
We are going to the park with the pond in the middle. We will park the car on the road next to the entrance and then walk to the pond.
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
What type of gingerbread people could you make with your child? Will each biscuit be decorated differently with individual personalities or will they be your favourite football team?Before starting to cut out the people, talk about how they will look. If they are going to have lots of decorations will you make them bigger compared to ones that will only have eyes, a nose and a mouth? Once you have worked out how big the biscuits will be, talk to your child about how thin to roll out the dough.
Birth to 5 years
When you read a party invitation together you will be looking at what time the party is being held, the location of the party, whether it is indoor or outdoor and what will happen at the party.
3 to 5 years
When you travel by bus there are many decisions to be made. Where will you catch the bus? How close is the bus stop to your house? If you don’t know what number bus to catch or where to catch the bus from, how will you find out? How will you know when to get off? Do you know the bus stop number or will you look for a landmark?
We’re going to take the bus into town today. We’ll need to look at the bus timetable to see what number bus to catch and what time the bus leaves.
Birth to 5 years
It’s raining it’s pouring, everything’s wet and boring…The weather has changed and winter has arrived. Often when this happens and the rain rolls in it is hard to find things to do outside to keep your child busy and active. Rain puddles are just made for jumping. You can try jumping over puddles with your child.
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
Most children find it fun to play - seeking out adventures and actively exploring the world with their bodies.Playing at a park or a playground will give your child an opportunity to use all their big muscles and experiment with how to move their bodies in different directions. They can run as fast as the wind or roll down the hills like a spinning top.There are other ways that you can encourage your child to be physical and active. You could try:
3 to 5 years
How you load or unload the dishwasher can be unique to you or your family and might be different just because of the type of dishwasher you have. As you work with your child to load or unload the dishwasher, explain to them how you will go about the task and the reason for the decisions you are making.
This plate is longer and has sharp corners compared to the plate that has curved corners. This plate is thicker so will not fit in that slot.
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.
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
The sun has risen and it is time to get up. Are you hungry because it’s time for breakfast?Will you have toast? If you’re having toast, are there different types of bread and spreads to pick from?We have 3 different types of bread in the fridge. There is brown, white and multigrain. Which one do you want?Yesterday you had butter and Vegemite on toast. Do you want the same today or something different?
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
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?
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
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.
3 to 5 years
Before planting the seed read the instructions on the packet with your child. As you read the instructions point out the different symbols that are used to give direction to know where to plant the seed, how deep to plant it and how big it will grow. Talk to your child about what size container you will need for the seed to grow in.
If the seed grows into a tall plant the roots will grow down deep and will need a tall container. If the seed grows into a spreading plant that is wide the container will need to be shallow and wide.
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
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
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
Before leaving the house to travel somewhere find your location on a map and identify where you want to go. Plot the best route to travel to that location.

Will the route you take change if you are walking or travelling in a car or a bus? Talk about the number of streets you may need to cross and if the streets are long or short. Is the location you are travelling to close or far away? When looking at the map can you also identify other symbols on the map to show different landmarks.
Birth to 5 years
Children often experiment with moving their bodies in different ways. They might move in time to music or try and fit their bodies inside different spaces. Sometimes they will try and figure out how to move without using their legs and feet.Next time you are near a hill encourage your child to experiment with different ways to roll down the hill. Can they tuck their bodies into a tight ball and roll? Can they become long and sausage-like, putting their arms above their head as they roll?
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?
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
Next time there is a pile of leaves to sweep up or it is time to sweep the kitchen floor get your child to help you. What part of the sweeping process will you ask your child to help with? Your child could sweep the leaves into a big pile with the broom while you use a dustpan and brush to put the leaves into the bin.It has been very windy outside and there are lots of leaves on the ground. I am going to sweep them into one big pile. You can use the bucket to collect the leaves and tip them into the bin.
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
Children often experiment with water. Gather some containers, tubes and funnels and help your child experiment with how the water flows from one container to the next. Together you can explore how much water one container will hold compared to another and how quickly a container will fill up before it flows over the top.
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?
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
You can make an obstacle course with your child inside or outside. Work together to discover what you have around home that you can use to make the obstacles. Try and build different challenges that your child can walk on, go up, over, under or through.Make obstacles that your child can balance on. You could use something like a flat piece of wood or a masking tape line.We need something you can balance on - what could we use? How about this piece of wood?
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
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
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?
3 to 5 years
Do you wash the dishes in a sink or in the dishwasher? Are there times when you choose to wash the dishes rather than put them in the dishwasher?We need to wash the saucepans as they are too big to fit in the dishwasher.If you don’t have a dishwasher do you wash up after every meal or wait until the end of the day when there is a pile of dishes to do?There are only 2 plates and 2 glasses from our lunch so let’s wait and wash them with the dishes from dinner.
Birth to 5 years
It’s time to wash your child’s hair. Where will you start? Will you brush out the tangles first or dive straight in and get their hair wet?
Talk with your child about what you are doing. Do you wash your child’s hair as part of their bath time routine or do you wash their hair over a basin?
Can you tip your head back so the water will run down your hair and into the bowl behind you?
As you wash your child’s hair talk about how long or how thick their hair is and where you will start to wash.
Birth to 5 years
There are many different ways that you can have a car race at home. One of the most exciting ways is to build your own racetrack with blocks and found parts. Together you can experiment with different designs to see which car will make it to the bottom first in the fastest time. Sometimes if the car is travelling too fast it might crash and not finish the race.
3 to 5 years
You have found the perfect present for that special person and now it is time to wrap it up. You can ask your child to help you.Start by talking about the size of the present and the amount of paper you will need to cover it up. Is the present a regular shape like a box with straight sides? Or is it an irregular shape that is a mixture of curved and straight sides?We have bought Baba shoes for his birthday. They come in a box so it will be easy to wrap.