Discover resources to help nurture a child’s heart, giving them confidence to explore and grow.

Activities for children ages 0-2 years
Hearing hunt - Tune into nature
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This is a great activity to encourage children to ‘tune in’ and expand awareness of their surroundings and deepen their appreciation for the natural environment as well as practising gratitude. 

Ages: Children 1 and up

Learning benefit / skills developed: 

  • Science: learning about our body and our senses. 
  • Health & wellbeing: moving one’s body and navigating the outdoor environment is excellent for health and wellbeing as it often engages large muscle groups and supports gross motor development. 
  • Language: encourages children to actively use descriptive language. 
  • Environment: supporting an early connection with Mother Nature and appreciation of the natural environment fosters a sense of responsibility and understanding of sustainability.  

Instructions: 

  • Go for a walk outside with your child and pause every so often to tune into your surroundings.  
  • Ask your child what can you hear? Birds tweeting? Dogs barking? Footsteps? The wind in the trees?  
  • Make a note of everything you hear (in pictures, words or through conversation depending on what is age-appropriate for who is completing the activity).

Inclusive opportunity:

  • You may want to modify your language and observations or make it more about what you 'see' rather than hear to ignite curiosity in your child (your learning partner).

Download or print activity here.

Vertical Painting - express creativity
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Age group:  from standing confidently

Learning benefit/skill developed:

  • Allows children to express themselves creatively
  • Allows children to explore colours
  • Uses hand-eye co-ordination and gross motor skills through using the large muscles in the arms

What you’ll need:

  • ​Large paper (can also tape paper together)
  • Paint and paintbrushes (can make your own paint, see recipe in the Create your Own section)
  • Paint pots/empty jars (can also use washed tins, as long as no sharp edges)
  • Masking tape/blu tac (to attach the paper)
  • A relatively flat surface (a wall, a door, a window, a fence etc)

Instructions:

  • Tape or blu tac the paper to the wall at a height that will allow your child to reach the whole paper, pour the paint into the container and let your child paint!

Tips/advice:

  • You can also play music while painting or encourage your child to paint something they can see in the environment. This can be done indoors or outdoors. If indoors, check your paint is washable.

Download or print activity here.

Activities for children aged 2 + years
Making peg people
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Peg people are a way for children to use their imagination during play and explore their identity and relationships with each other. It's fun to give your child choices throughout this activity and see what the finished product looks like. It might not look like a 'person’ to you however it will be about the process that your child has gone through to create their own toys. 

Ages: generally 2 years and up

Learning benefits / skills developed

  • Children imagine and create roles and express ideas through role playing with peg people 
  • Children develop creativity as they decide what materials they need to represent their peg person 
  • Expressive language is developing as children play with their peg people either on their own, or with other children
  • Children can use pegs through their play to work on their pincer grasp development. This helps children manipulate small item and sets the foundation for hand-writing
  • Using pegs can help development fine motor hand strength through the open and closing action
  • Encouraging your child to keep a peg open for as long as they can during play may help them to build up hand endurance to support in other fine motor tasks

What you’ll need

  • Wooden pegs
  • Textas/Markers
  • PVA glue
  • Coloured paper
  • Scrap fabric (from old clothes) or wool/string
  • Scissors – to cut the paper, fabric or string

Instructions

  1. Sit with your child with the materials and discuss what you are making 

  2. Decide what people you will be making – what will they look like? What will they wear? Who can they be when they are completed? 

  3. Use the glue to attach small pieces of fabric, string or paper to the pegs 

  4. Use the textas to encourage your child to draw facial features – think and talk about how your peg people might be feeling as children start to play 

Download or print activity here.

Auslan (Key Word Sign) Learning with Amanda
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Auslan (Australian Sign Language) plays an important role as the language of the Deaf community in Australia.

Key Word Sign uses the signs from Auslan to communicate, along with spoken English, creating unique learning for children.

Join Amanda from SDN Hurstville as she takes us through some Auslan (Key Word Sign) learnings, activities and songs...

Learning numbers 1-10

 

Mealtimes signs

 

 

Sing along - I am Australian

 

 

Sing along - 'ABC' song and ‘The Rainbow' song

 

 

Family signs - Aunty, Uncle, Niece, Nephew, Cousin, Grandmother & Grandfather.

 

Letters to Santa - a Christmas tradition
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A much loved tradition across SDN Centres, this letter to Santa experience can be done at home in the lead up to Christmas. Children can use their creativity and emotions to write to Santa about their year, their own family’s Christmas traditions, what’s on their wish lists and more.

Ages: generally 3 years and up

Learning benefits / skills developed

  • Developing their hand-eye coordination and pre-writing and writing skills.
  • Promotes their ability to follow a set of instructions and a process.
  • Learning about social concepts such as writing and sending letters.

What you’ll need

  • Christmas themed or any kind of paper
  • Textas, pencils, pens, scissors and glue stick
  • Red paint or other Christmas colour paint
  • Stamps (old or new) and envelopes
  • Large cardboard box (tip: reuse a nappy or meal kit delivery box or similar)
  • Christmas stickers OR print Christmas pictures online (optional). Some free options here:

Instructions

  1. Create the mailbox—using the cardboard box, paint it red and wait until dry to decorate with Christmas stickers and / or glue pictures.

  2. Using pen and paper, encourage your child to draw or write a letter, starting with “Dear Santa” and ending with “From _____”.

  3. Once finished, your child can fold the letter, place into an envelope and put a sticker/stamp on the front and address to “Santa” before placing into the mailbox.

Download or print activity here.

Floral bouquet – an arrangement of kindness
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This activity is for children to collect flowers from their home garden and create a beautiful arrangement, as an act of kindness for someone special to them.

Ages: generally 3 years and up

Learning benefits / skills developed

  • Encourages creativity exploring different colours and shapes with flowers and plants.
  • Assists in developing fine motor skills
  • Promotes sensory understanding and spending time with nature can be therapeutic and calming.
  • Allows children to create something of their own, which is aesthetically pleasing, to brighten someone’s day.

What you’ll need

  • Fresh seasonal flowers and leaves
  • Scissors
  • Twine or ribbon
  • Crepe paper for wrapping

Instructions

  1. Pick your choice of flowers and leaves
  2. Safely cut flower stems to have all the flowers in similar height.
  3. Create an arrangement and use twine or ribbon to tie it together
  4. Wrap the arrangement in crepe paper
  5. Deliver the floral arrangement to your special person.

Please note

  • Flowers can have thorns so please ensure you assist your child in picking, cleaning and cutting flowers.
  • Please be mindful of children with allergies and use flowers that are safe for them.

Download or print activity here.

Create a paper love heart with Maikeli!
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Maikeli, a former student from SDN Milperra, takes us through a step by step approach on creating a paper love heart.

Children learning from each other forms a wonderful connection between them. This helps children see others point of views and helps them in making friends and sharing. 

Ages: generally 4 years and up

Learning benefit/skills development:

  • Develops fine and gross motor skills.
  • Nurtures creativity and imagination.
  • Encourages critical thinking through creating crafts with shapes and colours.
  • Forms a connection with other children and peers to learn from each other.

Settle your glitter - managing emotions
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This activity teaches how you can support your child's emotional regulation.

Imagine your brain is a jar filled with glitter. Shake it all up and that would be how your mind looks when you're angry or mad. It's all spinning around, you don't have time to think.

Find a place to sit and relax and take deep breaths. Let all the sprinkles fall to the bottom of the jar and remember to just breath!

Watch this video to support children to first acknowledge their feelings, and then find solutions to manage emotions and help settle their glitter!

Take 5 breathing – regulate your emotions
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This activity teaches simple breathing techniques to help children regulate and process their emotions.

Ages: generally children 3 years and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Children develop their concentration and ability to focus
  • Understanding and managing various emotions
  • Learning about the 5 senses

What is Take 5 breathing?
During take 5 breathing, children concentrate on taking five slow breaths in through their nose and out through their mouths. Children may need to practice this first as they may be mouth breathing. If you notice that your child finds breathing through their nose a challenge, invite them to imagine they are smelling a beautiful flower or their favourite food as they breathe in, and then to breathe out with a big sigh. (Breathing in and smelling a beautiful smell and breathing out with a sigh because it smelt so good.) At the same time as breathing, children will focus on the action of tracing up and down the fingers of one hand and the gentle sensations this creates.

How it works:
Five steps to feeling calm (use this as a guide to teach your child)

  1. Spread your hand and stretch your fingers out like a star. You can choose your left hand or your right hand. Pretend the pointer finger of your other hand is a pencil and imagine you are going to trace around the outline of your hand and fingers.
  2. Start at the bottom of your thumb and slide your finger up your thumb, pause at the top, and then slide your finger down the other side. Now slide your pointer up your second finger, pause, and slide down the other side. Continue tracing your fingers up, pause, and down. Slide your finger slowly, watch your finger move and notice how it feels. Keep going until you have finished tracing your fifth finger (pinky).
  3. Now you are ready to add some breathing. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Remember to keep it slow and steady.
  4. Place your pointer finger at the bottom of your thumb, and breathe in as you slide up. Breathe out as you slide down. Breathe in as you slide up your second finger, and breathe out as you slide down. Keep going until you have finished tracing your fingers and you have taken five slow breaths.
  5. How does your body feel now? Do you feel calm or would you like to take another five?

Additional information

  • The best time to practice the Take 5 Breathing Exercise, or any calm down method, is when everyone is happy and no one feels stressed. Children find it hard to learn or use these techniques when they are already overwhelmed by big feelings (so do adults!) and it is important that we don’t force, push or demand that children use a ‘calm down’ method. The last thing our children need is pressure to succeed at relaxing! Letting a poster or picture act as a reminder rather than verbally telling our children what to do when they are feeling overcome with emotion and stress can be more effective.

  • Help your child process their emotions once they are calm
    While Take 5 Breathing addresses the stress response, our children need to know that their big feelings are important and we do want to hear what is going on for them. There is a difference clamping up and shutting our feelings away and calming down so that we can talk about our feelings and express them in a safe way. If children feel angry, hurt or worried, their feelings will probably still be there once they have calmed down. That makes it the perfect time to connect, reassure and listen to your children.

Refer to this video for a demonstration:

Reference

Feelings bingo – visualise emotions
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Identify and understand different emotions through this simple and fun game of bingo.

Ages: generally 3 years and up

Learning benefit / skills developed:

  • Language skills: through playing, children identify and name emotions
  • Emotional & social: children identify emotions, how they are displayed and when they may be experienced.
  • Cognitive skills: children’s cognitive skills are enhanced as they participate in group games; following rules, taking turns and (potentially) strategising.

What you’ll need: 

  • Paper
  • Pens/texters/crayons
  • Scissors
  • 20 x something you can use as tokens (5 and 10c coins work well)

Instructions:

  • Draw a grid on your page, dividing the page into 9 equal sized squares.  Draw a face in each square which represents a different emotion – you can leave the one in the middle blank if you choose to (as in the photo) and it becomes a wildcard which you can cover with a token at the beginning of each round.  While making the bingo cards talk to your child about what emotions may be used in the game; what different emotions/feelings do they know of? What does a person’s face look like when they feel that way?  
  • On the second sheet of paper do the same as above but make sure the different emotions are in different squares (so the game cards aren’t the same).
  • Cut the third piece of paper into 9 equal squares and draw on each square a different emotion face (matching the ones you have drawn on the game card) and place those in a pile face down.
  • To play, each player has a game card.  One of the players, or a third player, takes the top emotions card from the face down pile and turns it over.  If players have the same emotion shown on the card on their own game card then they place a token on that face on their card.  This process is repeated until one player has a line (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) of tokens.  When this occurs that player says “bingo!” and has won the round.

Additional recommendations:

  • Identifying emotions and learning about how to work through them effectively is essential to developing emotional intelligence and resilience.  It is beneficial to take your time through the game and discuss the emotions as they come up with prompting questions such as “what makes you feel this way?” “what can we do to help ourselves or our friends when sad/angry/afraid etc…”
  • Once you have played a few rounds and all parties understand the game, instead of turning over the emotions cards from the pile you can have one player act out the different emotions instead.

Download or print activity here.

Matching game – enhancing a sense of belonging
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This fun activity asks children to match photos of significant people in their lives, to enhance their sense of belonging and develop memory skills.

Ages: Generally children 2 and up

Learning benefit / skills developed:

  • Language development: through playing this game, children identify and name the friends and family appearing in the photos.
  • Enhancing children’s sense of identity and belonging: children develop sense of self and belonging with family and friends through understanding that these set of people in the photos are connected and special to them.
  • Children develop strategies to support their memory skills through playing the game.

What you’ll need: 

  • Printed photographs of family and friends in duplicate

Instructions:

  • Print 5-10 photos of people significant in your child’s life such as family and friends. Duplicate this set so that you have 2 copies of each photo.
  • Place each photo face down in front of your child.
  • Take turns to turn over two photos at a time.  If the photos match then the person who turned them over gets to keep them.  If they don’t match then they need to turn them face down again and it is the other player’s turn.
  • Play until all pairs have been identified.

Download or print activity here.

Self portraits - Drawing
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Drawing self-portraits by looking in the mirrors. For children to develop an understanding of their own emotions and feelings in a visible manner.

Age group: Generally for children 3 and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Opportunities of self-awareness
  • Develop verbal and non-verbal abilities to express emotions
  • Making inner feelings visible
  • Develop expressive language and dialogue
  • Fosters fine motor skills
  • Assist with the emergence of literacy and writing skills

What you’ll need:

  • Lead and colour pencils
  • Papers on clipboard
  • Mirrors

Instructions:

  • Set up two sides of the table with an adjustable mirror, paper and pencils
  • Join child in for drawing self-reflections
  • Role model the child that you are drawing yourself by looking in the mirror; however, avoid to guide a child’s decisions about their work
  • Allow the child to draw his or herself autonomously
  • After the drawing, engage in a discussion that how the child is feeling and doing in the picture
  • Engage in active listening to promote expressive language
  • Encourage the child to reflect on the reasons behind these feelings and to recommend possible solutions to avoid them.

Tips / Follow up:

At emotional times, encourage the child to draw a picture of him/herself to let other people know how they are feeling. By observing him/herself in the mirror, the child will be able to understand his/her own emotions in a visible manner. During the process of drawing, the child will get the opportunity to reflect on these feelings. By explaining the drawing, the child will develop skills to verbally articulate strong feelings.

Download or print activity here.

 

Postable Hugs - share the love
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During this time of isolation, one of the things we all miss most is being around our loved ones, be it family or friends. While we can't do much to fix that, we can work on something fun to share our love with those that may by needing it the most.

Age group: 2 and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Emotional intelligence: developing an understanding of how others may be feeling and, in turn, demonstrating empathy.
  • Creativity: expressing themselves creatively exploring colours, lines, shapes and self-expression whilst building one’s own identity.
  • Mathematical understanding of shape and size by tracing their bodies.
  • Early Literacy Development: understanding symbols, words and drawings can convey messages.

Instructions:

  1. Find paper big enough to trace your child with their arms out for a hug.
  2. Trace your child.
  3. Colour in.
  4. Cut out the hug.
  5. Post it to someone who needs a hug

Download or print activity here.

Chalk drawing - spreading positivity
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Creating positive messages with chalk enables children to practice kindness through words and pictures, especially as we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic together. This activity may also help with conversations and questions around the current situation.

Learning benefit / skills developed:

  • Develops empathy and understanding for others.
  • Encourages the development of positive thinking and mindset.
  • Encourages creativity and visual analysis.
  • Develops Fine Motor Skills through hand, wrist and finger movement.

What you’ll need:

  • A variety of chalk (in different colours)
  • Some dedicated space outside on a wall or ground to use as a canvas
  • A damp cloth to make adjustments to your colourful creations

Instructions:

You may want some messages to start your chalk canvas. Some options could be

  • Stay happy
  • Stay safe
  • Stay strong
  • We are all in this together
  • Keep smiling

You may want some symbols or pictures to start your chalk canvas. Some options could be

  • Love hearts
  • Rainbows
  • Flowers
  • Sunshine

Encourage your children to take the lead on what they want to draw and write with their chalk designs. This activity may also inspire further questions and positive discussion about kindness. Take some photos of your creations to share with family and friends.

A soft cloth and warm water are great to clear away chalk designs afterwards.

Download or print activity here.

Writing and drawing - expressing care for others
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There are often thoughts and feelings that cannot be expressed physically but can be verbalised through words or pictures. Especially during this time of self-isolation, children may be missing their friends, feeling confused about why they cannot go to their local park, and having a whirlwind of other thoughts and emotions.

This activity of writing letters or drawing pictures based on specific themes or ideas can help children express themselves while tapping into their creativity.

Age group: Generally children aged 3 and up

Learning benefit / skills developed:

  • Teaches children how to express kindness and compassion, as they are thinking about the other person when writing a letter or drawing a picture for them
  • Develops early literacy skills and fine motor control
  • Develops concentration and focus
  • Encourages creativity, expressive language, and boosts children’s self-esteem as they create something on their own

Instructions:

  • Give your child paper and colourful pencils or crayons
  • Discuss with them which theme they want to focus on. Examples:
    • Write a letter to your best friend
    • Write a letter to your teacher
    • Write/draw what you love most about your home
    • Why should you be kind?
    • Describe your favourite animal
  • If they are comfortable to talk about it, ask your child to speak to you about what they have created when they finish.
  • Mail the letter/take a photo of their letter or picture to send to the recipient
  • Display their artwork at home or create a folder dedicated to the child of their visual pieces

If the recipient responds, there is also the added excitement of your child receiving a letter in the mail.

Download or print activity here.

SDN is committed to the safety of children and families and encourages the safe undertaking of activities on the hub. For more information read our terms and conditionsFor more on child safety at home visit Raising Children network.

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