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Working it out

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Getting your child to help you with the shopping involves a little planning. What you would normally do on your own quickly will take more time when you work together.

Make a list together before you go. You could use the junk mail. As you make the list talk about what items will be found.

We need to get milk, cheese and yogurt. They’ll be in the cold section in the last row.

There are many different ways that you can travel. You can walk, go by car, bus, train or even by plane.

You might walk to a place because it is close and you have enough time to get there. Other times you would travel by transport because it would take too long or is too far to walk.

Where you are going and what you will do there will help you decide how you will travel. If you are going to the supermarket and you have lots of shopping to do you probably won’t walk because you will have lots to carry home.

Before getting the shopping out of the car try and estimate with your child how many bags of shopping there will be to carry in. Talk about how many bags each of you will have to carry. Try and predict how many trips back and forth to the car that will be. Talk about which bags are full and which are not. Will the full bags be the heaviest? Place the bags on the ground and ask your child to lift the bags up to identify which bag is heavy and which is light.

Are these all the same or are some heavier and some lighter?

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

You use time every day. You use it when you heat food in the microwave or organise who will have the first shower or the last. You also use time when you are planning your day, organising to meet someone or picking your child up from school.

Talk to your child about how you use time and the different ways that time can be described.

The spaghetti will only take one minute to heat - that’s not very long.

Dad is going to be late home tonight so we won’t have dinner at our normal time.

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.

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.

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.