From building to art and beyond, there’s always something new to inspire growing minds.

Activities for children aged 0-2 years
Ice cube painting — summer sensory fun
Toggle Accordion

Beat the summer humidity with this cooling and colorful sensory, ice cube painting activity, developed by our very own SDN Children's Therapies team.

Ages: 1 year and above

Learning benefit/ skills development: 

  • Promotes development of functional grasp and opening up of web space on the hand
  • Preparing and practicing pre-writing shapes and letter skills
  • Builds up sensory experience and understanding of temperature and colours

What you’ll need: 

  • Ice cube tray and water for ice cubes

  • Food colouring (try a few different colours)

  • Parchment/baking paper (find at a grocery or stationary store)

  • Waterproof mat or table

  • Bowls and/or tubs

  • Chopped fruits or vegetables (optional)

Instructions: 

  • The night before or at least a couple hours before, create your ice cubes by adding water and a few drops of food colouring to your ice cube tray. Mix food colouring to create some colours. Add to freezer and allow to set.
  • Take out ice cubes from tray and place into bowls or tubs to keep separate, then provide the ice cubes and parchment paper to your child on top of waterproof mat or table, or anywhere you don’t mind getting messy and can easily clean.
  • Encourage your child to draw different shapes and patterns on the paper, using the ice as it melts and moves!

Tips:

  • If you have some left over fruit or veggies, chop them up and add in to the ice cubes for some cheeky exposure to different foods!

 

Download or print activity here.

Pumpkin and seeds sensory bag - touch and feel
Toggle Accordion

A pantry staple sensory experience that allows your child to build fine motor skills and develop their spatial awareness. This is also a great way to recycle and reuse pumpkin in a fun learning activity without the mess!

Ages: 0 – 2 years old 

Learning benefit/ skills development: 

  • Promotes children's curiosity and provides a sensory exploration experience 
  • Assists with developing their hand-eye coordination, fine motor control and spatial awareness skills
  • Builds up their vocabulary for describing how things feel when touched 

What you’ll need: 

  • Pumpkin with seeds 
  • Zip lock bag 

Instructions: 

  • Cut up pumpkin into a few small pieces, then steam with the seeds intact.
  • After it has cooled down, put some in a zip lock bag (avoiding over-packing).
  • Children are encouraged to squash or squeeze the pumpkin.
  • After the pumpkin is completely mashed, children are encouraged to use their fingers to press or chase the seeds.  

Tips: 

  • For an alternative sensory experience, add flour to the steamed pumpkin and seeds. 
  • It is highly encouraged to reuse leftover pumpkin you might have, then after you're done with activity, pop any remaining pumpkin into the compost bin.

Download or print activity here.

Create a Diya (lamp) – a cultural representation
Toggle Accordion

This activity is for children to get an understanding of cultures and their respective festivals.

Diwali or Deepavali, known as the festival of lights, is an Indian cultural festival where lighting diyas (lamps) is a big part of the celebration. Through this activity, children can learn how to draw and colour their own diya!

Ages: generally 1 year and up

Learning benefits / skills developed:

  • Provides learning about different cultures and their significant festivals.
  • Gives children an opportunity to explore creativity with free hand drawing and/or colouring.
  • Develops hand and eye coordination as well as concentration skills

What you’ll need:

  • Paper
  • Pencils, crayons or textas – preferably brown and yellow
  • A picture of a diya for children to use as a reference

Instructions:

  1. Show your child some images of a diya and explain the significance of this during the Diwali celebration. Information can be found here.
  2. Encourage your child to draw the shape of a diya.
  3. Now it’s time to colour! Colour in the frame with yellow or orange colours, with the bottom of the diya (the bowl) in brown. The bottom bowl of an actual diya is made out of clay.

Please note:

  • The colours mentioned above are a true representation of a diya. However children can explore their imagination to use different colours if they prefer.

Download or print activity here.

Magic milk experiment - science learning
Toggle Accordion

Magic milk experiment – science learning

This simple, easy to set up science experiment is sure to get some smiles.

Ages: Children 1 year and up (under adult guidance and supervision)

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Science foundation skills and understanding
  • Recognition of cause and effect
  • Observation skills
  • Problem-solving ability

What you’ll need:

  • Wide plate or bowl
  • One cup milk (full cream is good)
  • Food colouring 
  • Dishwashing liquid (small amount)
  • Cotton Swabs

Instructions:

  • Pour milk into the bottom of the bowl or pie plate. (just enough to cover the bottom and then some).
  • Drop different colours of food colouring into the milk, spacing the food colouring drops so that the drops don’t touch.
  • Pour about a quarter cup of dishwashing liquid into a bowl.
  • Dip the cotton swab into the dishwashing liquid.
  • Touch the milk anywhere with the swab (only touch the milk with the swab, not the food colouring). You can keep touching the milk in all different spots.
  • Watch the food colouring react.

Why does this happen?

The Dishwashing liquid is a degreaser. So the molecules are reacting to the fat cells in the milk. This causes motion which creates the swirls of the food colouring, making the different colours as they mix.

Tips:

Engage in questions with children

  • What did you notice?
  • What happened when you put the cotton swab in the milk?
  • Why do you think that happened?

Download or print activity here.

Nature Play - Video series
Toggle Accordion

Join Megan, Educator and Art teacher at SDN Woolloomooloo who takes us through three activities that start with the exploration and collection of natural materials from the park or garden and will help inspire children’s curiosity about their natural environment.

Ages: Children 2 years +

Information about What you need, Skills developed for children and additional tips are also shared in the activity videos below.

Activity One - Nature Threading 

Activity Two - Nature Painting

Activity Three - Nature Collage 

Leaf collection - nature collage
Toggle Accordion

This activity involves the collection of fallen leaves and gives children a chance to connect with the environment around them and examine and explore different elements in nature.

Age group: Generally 1 year and up  

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Builds children’s sensory exploration skills as they touch and create
  • Extends children’s creative skills and ability
  • Builds connection to the environment and understanding of changing seasons
  • Develops fine motor skills as children manipulate the glue and leaves and stick them onto paper.

What you’ll need:

  • Basket of bag (to hold the leaves)
  • Leaves of all shapes and sizes
  • Glue or glue sticks (water-based or non-toxic)
  • Paper or cardboard - to present the collage

Instructions:

  • Collect the leaves with your child from the backyard, garden or local park.
  • Set up the table with the leaves, glue and paper/cardboard.
  • Encourage your child to add glue first and then stick the leaves onto the paper.

Tips:

  • Talk to your child about the colours and pattern of the leaves and what they feel like.
  • Encourage your child to explore and collect a variety of leaves and different textures.
  • Option to explore and collect similar natural elements such as twigs, bark and small branches and talk about them.

Download or print activity here.

Build a box car - beep beep
Toggle Accordion

Building this homemade box car encourages children to reuse household objects, and allows them to use their imagination.

Age group: 18 months and up

(older children may be able to make the car themselves, younger children may need help and others may need you to make it for them to drive).

Learning benefit/skill developed:

  • Encourages fine motor and gross motor skills through cutting and gluing and pushing the car around.

What you’ll need:

  • ​A box (any size will do, depending on how big you’d like your car to be  
  • Cardboard/coloured paper
  • Glue
  • Cupcake cases
  • Toys to ‘drive’ the car (or depending on the size of your box, your child may like to sit in and drive themselves)

Instructions:

  • Cut a hole in the top of the box
  • Cover the box in cardboard or coloured paper (cut the paper to size)
  • Glue cupcake cases as wheels, two on each side. Attach a 5th cupcake case as the steering wheel
  • Add some toys and you’re ready to drive!

Tips/advice:

  • You can support your child’s language development by talking to them about what their car is doing, i.e you may role model saying ‘beep beep’, or ask where the car is driving?

Download or print activity here.

Sensory trays - exploring our senses
Toggle Accordion

Create an open-ended sensory experience for your child to explore their sense of touch, taste, sight, sound and smell.

Age group: generally 1 year and up

Learning benefit/skills developed

  • Develops children’s sense of wonder by encouraging their sensory exploration of touch, taste, sight, sound and smell.
  • Assists in children’s understanding of different colours, textures and sounds
  • Encourages messy play to promote children’s creative and adaptive play
  • Prompts exploration of senses
  • Explores food in a non-pressured fun way

What you’ll need: 

  • Metal aluminium trays ( bowls can be used as an alternative)
  • Shredded coconut
  • Coloured water
  • Cooked pasta
  • Rice
  • Herbs and edible leaves
  • Towels

Instructions:

  • Place one towel on top of the table and one towel underneath the table (this will assist with the clean-up at the end)
  • Place five trays on the table
  • Fill each tray with your designated sensory item (be sure to place the dry sensory next to a wet sensory tray, this allows for a greater texture difference when exploring each tray one by one).

Extension of learning:

  • Question your child on the taste, “Does that taste yummy or yucky?”
  • Question your child on the feel, “ Is that soft, hard, crunchy, cold, warm or sticky”

Special Consideration:
Some children can be reluctant to touch or taste different textures or colours, this often is associated with their sensory preferences.

We all have sensory preferences but if a child has sensory processing challenges, this can result in the textures or tastes being incredibly uncomfortable for children to interact with. By giving children choices between wet/soft and dry/crunchy, we are being more supportive of these children.

When introducing a child to a less preferred texture it may be useful to start with using tools such as spoons or long paintbrushes, or the first touch could be the tip of the finger. If introducing new food textures to taste, smell is a great starting point. Using cutlery with these foods and even giving the new food a kiss to start getting it closer to the mouth can all help towards exploring new taste.

Download or print activity here.

Ball box - find the right shape
Toggle Accordion

This activity supports children understand about object permanence, problem-solving and spatial awareness, through a game of putting a ball into a cardboard box.

Ages: generally 1 year and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Encourages children to develop hand and eye coordination as they put the ball through the cutout holes in the box 
  • Helps children understand shapes and sizes
  • Develops children’s problem-solving skills and spatial awareness

What you’ll need: 

  • A cardboard box
  • Small balls of any material (roughly 5cm diameter so they are small enough for your child to pick up with one hand and large enough to not pose a choking risk)
  • Have balls of different sizes available to add an extra challenge
  • Scissors to cut the holes, according to various shapes and sizes of balls

Instructions:

  • Cut 2-4 holes in the box using scissors
  • Leave the box closed but not sealed (it should open as the child tips it and the balls should come out)
  • Give the balls to your child and watch as your child puts the balls in. Give them space to see if they can figure out how to get them in and out.

Download or print activity here

Special Kitchen cupboard - introducing kitchen experiences
Toggle Accordion

This is a simple activity to do at home. The kitchen cupboard idea is a great way to introduce children to the kitchen and cooking experiences. Giving your child access to a safe low kitchen cupboard with items they can handle and access safely, provides an opportunity for children to explore containers and lids, measuring cups and spoons, and other safe to use cooking utensils. 

Ages: Generally children 1-3

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Fine motor skills, using the small muscles in the hand as well as hand-eye coordination in manipulating and stacking containers.
  • Language development, as you discuss the activity you are doing.

Family benefit:

  • This activity provides children with a space in the kitchen to learn and copy what you are doing.
  • Being close to you also provides opportunities for language development as you discuss the activity you are doing as well.
  • This activity also provides an opportunity for parents to do the things they need to while also engaging and supervising their children.

What you’ll need?

  • Plastic or tin containers with matching lids
  • Wooden Spoons
  • Measuring cups and spoons (ones that stack inside one another are best)

Instructions:

  • Select a kitchen cupboard not near high traffic areas of your kitchen or too close to the oven and cooktop. Clean it out and add materials.
  • Allow children to access this cupboard and remind them that this is their special cupboard.
  • Play with your children on the floor, making sure that it is not in an area where people need to access the fridge.
  • Encourage children to stack the containers and measuring cups, use a wooden spoon to experiment with the different sounds of the containers. Find and match lids to the containers.

Follow up or modifications

This idea would also work within a home office. Using the same materials and add notebooks and coloured pencils.

Download or print activity here.

Sensory path - exploring sights, textures and sounds
Toggle Accordion

Create a path of different sights, textures and sounds for your child to wonder and explore

Age group: generally children 6 months and up (suitable for crawlers and walkers)

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Encourages physical movement and develops children’s sense of wonder by encouraging their sensory exploration of sight, touch and sound
  • Develops balance for children who are crawling and in early stages of walking
  • Assists in children’s understanding of different colours, textures and sounds

What you’ll need: 

  • Laminating sheets or thick sandwich bags
  • Masking tape
  • Recycled or craft materials such as ribbon, bubble wrap, paint, felt, pom poms, leaves, dried flowers or anything else you find suitable

Instructions:

  • Fill each laminating pouch or sandwich bag with desired materials (if using laminating pouches, seal the edges with an iron or hair straightener so they don’t leak)
  • Use masking tape to tape pouches onto the floor to create a path

Extension for older children: try creating a different number, colour, letter, or shape from the materials in each pouch and encourage them to find the letter/shape/colour/number.

Try encouraging your child to do a different movement with every section of the path they stand on (for example, jumping on the bubble wrap or clapping when standing on the felt)

Download or print activity here.

Shape stamping - encourage shape awareness
Toggle Accordion

Age group:  18 months and older

Learning benefit/skill developed:

  • Encourages shape recognition, labelling and awareness
  • Encourages language through shared conversation and interaction
  • Allows children to explore different methods of creating art

What you’ll need:

  • ​Paper
  • Paint (can make your own, see Family Hub for recipe)
  • Cookie cutters in different shapes (if you don’t have any, you can make your own stamps using cardboard)
  • A plate of flat container for the paint

Instructions:

Show your child how to stamp the cookie cutter into the paint, then on the paper, then let them explore.

Tips/advice:

  • Talk to your child about what shapes they’re making, and what colours they’re using.

Download or print activity here.

 

 

Activities for children aged 2 + years
Potion making - a masterclass of magic
Toggle Accordion

Add some colourful magic to the day with this potion-making masterclass. Simply use some simple materials found at home, as well as your imagination and creativity to experiment with colour, paint and swirls!

Ages: 2 years and up

Learning benefit/ skills development: 

  • Promotes children's curiosity and provides a sensory exploration experience

  • Encourages messy play to promote children's creative and adaptive play

  • Assists with developing their hand-eye coordination, fine motor control and spatial awareness skills

  • Explores causes and effect and enhances observation skills, as colours are added and change

  • Supports their 'pincer grasp' when squeezing and releasing using the eye droppers

What you’ll need: 

  • Clear glasses, bowls or containers, try to aim for at least 4-5 to make different colour choices and one empty to make the potion in

  • Food colouring or water soluble paint

  • Spoons, eye droppers and pippets

  • Shaving cream or whipped cream (optional)

 

Instructions: 

  • Get your glasses, bowls or containers and fill them with water and add either food dye or watered down paint. Provide at least a few different colours, such as primary colours: red, blue and yellow.

  • Provide children with spoons, eye droppers and pippets and allow and/or assist them to pick up different colours and add it to their potion jar. Note: some children may need support or direct assistance with using the eye droppers to collect and release the liquid, but allow for trial and error.

  • Optional, but you can provide children with shaving cream or whipped cream to add to their potions and thicken them up to their liking!

Tips:

Engage children with questions like:

  • What colours is your potion? How are the colours changing (from one to another)?
  • How are you making your potion?
  • What type of potion are you making?

 

Download or print activity here.

Gingerbread sensory playdough — smell of Christmas cheer
Toggle Accordion

Captivate children with the smell and feelings of Christmas cheer with Gingerbread sensory playdough.

Age group: 2 years and up

Learning benefit / Skills developed:

  • Develop an understanding of the senses, mainly touch, sight and smell, as well as language to describe senses
  • Introduces early mathematical and scientific concepts, like using measurements and spatial awareness
  • Promotes cognitive skills such as motor development and hand-eye coordination

What you’ll need—for the playdough:

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • 3 tbsp each of the following spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, ground ginger
  • 1 cup of boiling water

What you’ll need—for play

  • Craft items (preferably Christmas colours)
  • Cookie or play dough cutters
  • Bowl, spatula and rolling pin

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl using a spatula (or wooden spoon), but add the boiling water gradually into the mix.
  2. Allow to cool down first before kneading the dough until reached dough-like consistency.
  3. Give to child/children to play with the dough. They can use rolling pins to flatten the dough and cookie cutters to make shapes, and then decorate with craft items.
  4. Be sure to ask them about what they’re doing and describe what they are experiencing (e.g.
    “what does it smell like?”, “how does it feel?”.

Download or print activity here.

Lemon experiment – create a ‘volcano’
Toggle Accordion

A wonderful experiment to do at home with children, especially if you have some forgotten lemons in the fridge! This is a great alternative to the classic volcano activity and opens up a whole new avenue of sensory exploration.

Age group: generally 3 years and up (adult guidance and supervision required)

Learning benefits/ skills developed:

  • Offers a hands-on learning experience
  • Explores cause and effect
  • Develops and understanding of senses - smell, taste, touch, and sight.
  • Enhances observation skills
  • Introduces new vocabulary such as carbon dioxide, chemical reaction and acidic.
  • Develops problem solving capabilities

What you’ll need

  • A melamine platter – white works well as a background for the food colouring
  • 2 Lemons
  • A spoon
  • A fork/craft stick
  • Baking soda in a small bowl
  • Food colouring – red and blue

Instructions

  1. Roll the lemon between your hands to break up some of the lemon pulp.
  2. Cut off the bottoms of the lemon so it sits flat on the plate.
  3. Cut the lemon in half and place it on a tray.
  4. Use the tops to squeeze the juice over the bottom halves.
  5. If needed to release more juice, poke with a fork/craft stick.
  6. Add food colouring to each bottom half.
  7. Add baking soda on lemon tops – notice the small bubbles.
  8. Squeeze the lemon juice over the bottom half.
  9. Observe the ‘volcano’ erupt – add more baking soda to prolong ‘eruption’.

Why does it happen?

When a base (baking soda) and acid (lemon juice) are mixed, carbon dioxide is formed causing the bubbling (chemical) reaction.

Tips:

Engage in questions with children:

  • What does the lemon smell and taste like?
  • What happened when you added baking soda to the lemon?

Download or print activity here.

Edible fruit paint – taste and play
Toggle Accordion

Encourage create thinking in your child to add a little fun and play during snack time! This sensory loaded activity will not only have your child exploring their creativity, but also encourage learning through their senses. This is an open-ended activity with no right or wrong.

Age group: generally 3 years and up

Learning benefit / skills developed:

  • Assists in developing creative thinking skills
  • Develops self-confidence as children learn new things and express their feelings and emotions.
  • Learning through senses of touch, taste and sight
  • Enhances understanding of colours

What you’ll need: 

  • Flavoured gelatine  
  • Yoghurt  
  • Spoons 
  • Bowls 
  • Plates 
  • Food colouring  
  • Fruits of your choice (strawberries, lemon, lime, blueberries, purple grapes and orange work well) 
  • Chopping board  
  • Knife  

Instructions:

  1. Set up a table with the ingredients, with separate bowls for mixing. Have 1 bowl and 1 white plate for each fruit.
  2. Scoop 1-2 spoonful of yoghurt into each bowl and add one spoonful of flavoured gelatine in each bowl. Show your child how to stir the gelatine in so that it mixes well with the yoghurt.  
  3. Add food colouring to each yoghurt bowl matching to your chosen fruit.  
  4. With your child, show them how to cut up the selected fruits to display on the side of the finished plates.  
  5. Your edible fruit paint so now complete. Enjoy some finger painting on a white plate or simply enjoy tasting!

Download or print activity here.

Pom Pom scooping – a learning station
Toggle Accordion

Set up a learning station for children to play and experience using pom poms in multiple ways.

Age group: generally 2 years and up

Learning benefits / skills developed:

  • Develops hand-eye coordination
  • Builds fine motor skills and hand dexterity
  • Enhances colour identification
  • Teaches understanding of spatial awareness by moving the pom poms from the tray to the bowl
  • Improves concentration skills
  • Develops sensory processing skills through sight and touch
  • Enhances vocabulary through conversation
  • Builds orienteering languages such as up, down, in and out

What you'll need:

  • Pom poms
  • Tray
  • Bowls
  • Scoops – you can re-purpose old formula scoops, utilise spoon or measuring cups

Instructions:

  • Sit down with your child with the area set up as a provocation for play and encourage your child to scoop.
  • Discuss the process of transferring and collecting the pom poms to the bowls. Engage in conversation to tap into the learning benefits.

Ideas for activities:

  • Numeracy concepts – begin counting the pom poms, building an understanding around pre-mathematical concepts.
  • Colour classification – sort and match the pom poms into their colour group.
  • Size classification – look at the different sizes of pom poms and collate them in groups based on their size.
  • Utilise tongs and an ice cube tray to enhance the fine motor experience, placing only one pom pom at a time in the tray.

Download or print activity here.

Draw a cartoon monster with Elijah!
Toggle Accordion

Learn how to draw a cartoon monster with Elijah, who is a former student from SDN Milperra!

Age group: generally children 3 and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Developing fine motor skills
  • Helps with concentration and patience
  • Allows children to explore their curiosity, imagination and create a character.
  • Gives an opportunity to present self-expression.
  • Forms a connection with other children and peers to learn from each other.

Walking Water - Science experiment
Toggle Accordion

Join SDN Riverwood Educator Joka who guides us through a ‘Walking Water’ experiment for National Science Week 2021.

Ages: Children 2 and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Science foundation skills and understanding
  • Recognition of cause and effect, organising and classifying
  • Problem-solving ability

What you’ll need:

  • 3 glasses
  • Water
  • Food colouring
  • 2 paper towels

Instructions:

  • Pour the water into two glasses (the middle glass is empty) a bit more than half of each glass.
  • Add a few drops of yellow food colouring in one glass and few drops of blue in another glass.
  • Use folded paper towels to connect the glasses.
  • Make some initial observations and leave the glasses for a few hours to see what happens

Tips:

  • Children can guess questions and form their predictions What will happen to the middle glass? What colour will be in the middle glass?

Let’s play Bingo!
Toggle Accordion

This fun activity encourages children to connect words and images, by hunting for objects in their house, backyard or neighbourhood.

Ages: generally 3 years and up

Learning benefit / skills developed:

  • Children develop the ability to focus, by searching for a specific object or creature.
  • Assists in connecting the word with its image and recognising unique shapes and colours.
  • Encourages curiosity and generates an interest in learning.

Instructions:

  1. On a computer or by hand, create a bingo board on a piece of A4 paper.
  2. Identify objects around the house or in the backyard to list for Bingo. Ideally, include an image and word.
  3. Create rules for the game.
    eg. find all the items on the Bingo board
    eg. find at least 5 items on the Bingo board
    eg. try to find at least 5 items in 10 minutes
  4. Give the Bingo sheet to your child to walk around, locate the items and cross it off the list.

Tips/advice:
Once your child has played Bingo a few times and is comfortable with the activity, consider reversing the roles so they nominate and draw items on a sheet, and another family member goes around to find them.

Download or print activity here.

What’s in the Square?
Toggle Accordion

This easy to create board game with 4 x 4 squares, is a fun way to foster children’s logic and matrix thinking.

Ages: generally 3 years and up

Learning benefit / skills developed:

  • Develops problem solving skills
  • Encourages mathematical thinking
  • Improves vocabulary
  • Teachers children about turn taking and playing with others
  • Boosts attention span

What you’ll need: 

  • A cardboard sheet with 4x4 squares in line
  • Coloured paper
  • A coloured animal cut out or items found around the house that can be grouped and sorted by colours or type

Instructions:

  • Place 4 different colours (blue, red, yellow, green) along the top of the square
  • Place 4 different animal cut outs (example: dog, cat, mouse and butterfly)
  • To play the game, the player places the card (example blue dog) in the square that matches the dog and the blue colour.
  • Take turns between number of players and continue placing a card in the vacant square until all are covered with an item.

Download or print activity here.

Spray painting – explore fun and creativity
Toggle Accordion

Spray painting is a great outdoor activity to try with children to encourage learning about colours and mixing. This is also a great way for children to practice sharing with friends while having fun.

Age group: Generally children 2 and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Creative growth and imagination
  • Concentration and coordination
  • Fine motor skill development (hand strength development)
  • Turn-taking and sharing

What you’ll need:

  • Food colouring/paint (non-toxic and washable paint is recommended)
  • Water
  • Spray bottles (for each colour)
  • Paper or old sheet or material (to spray paint on)
  • Painting apron or old clothes (in case of a mess)

Instructions:

  • Half fill each spray bottle with water and add a small amount of food colouring or paint. Shake to combine.
  • Set up paper or material in a clear outdoor space for your child to start.
  • Encourage children the spray different colours and explore mixing as they start creating their artwork.

Tips:

  • If spray painting with friends, encourage sharing and turn-taking of colours during this activity.
  • Encourage discussion about colours and mixing of colours to harness their learning about colour.
  • You may want to provide some additional sponges or other items to mix in the colours to explore further colour learning.

Loose parts – inspiring creativity
Toggle Accordion

Have you ever noticed that if you leave recyclable or re-usable materials lying around children will almost certainly play with them? The options for play and discovery are endless with the use of open-ended resources that we like to call ‘loose parts’.

Age group: generally 2 years and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Developing and using children’s imagination
  • Gross and fine motor development of using items and constructing with these
  • Develops children’s problem solving and spatial awareness
  • Older children will be able to vocalise their play and idea of use for these materials, whereas younger children will use these materials solely for investigation and building purposes.

What you’ll need: 

A variety of open ended resources such as

  • Wood offcuts
  • Milk crates
  • Stones
  • Cardboard boxes such as cereal box, biscuit box and parcel boxes
  • Shells
  • Ribbon
  • Washed plastic food containers such as yogurt tubs and butter tubs
  • Plastic garden pots

Instructions:

  • Provide a range of open ended resources within a play space that is large enough for children to explore the use of these materials in a way they wish to use them.
  • Don’t try to direct the child in their play, just let them explore and use their own imagination.
  • Allowing children to use materials with their own ideas in mind encourages and inspires their imagination and creativity.

Tips/advice:

  • Having children involved in the process of sourcing the re-usable or recyclable items can also encourage their play with these items.

Download or print activity here.

“Painting” with water – a scientific exploration
Toggle Accordion

Explore the wonders of science through this fun activity of painting with water.

Age group: generally 1.5 years and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Enhances hand/eye coordination and spatial awareness
  • Develops fine motor skills
  • Encourages creativity
  • Prompts scientific exploration of the concepts of wet, dry and evaporation

What you’ll need: 

  • A bucket
  • A Paintbrush (any size or shape that the child can hold)
  • Water
  • Blank surface that can be wet (fence, balcony, paved surface, or even a cardboard box)

Instructions:

  • Place some water in the bucket then provide your child with the bucket and paintbrush.
  • Encourage your child to “paint” the surface that you have chosen with water.
  • Support them to notice how the surface gets darker where they paint. Your child may wish to paint pictures or patterns or they may wish to paint the entire surface. They will have the opportunity to learn about the effects of the sun and evaporation as the water dries and their painting magically disappears! At this point they might want to start painting all over again.

Tips/advice:

This is a great outdoor activity for a warm sunny day. The activity needs to be supervised as there is water involved.

Download or print activity here.

Sink and float – learning with water
Toggle Accordion

Encourage your child’s curious mind through this fun water activity.

Age group: generally 2 years and up

Learning benefit / skills developed:

  • Supports children in using descriptive words to express their ideas and opinions
  • Promotes scientific thinking by making predictions, observations, comparisons, reasoning, experimentation and evaluation
  • Encourages children in building concentration
  • Development of fine motor skills

What you’ll need: 

  • Tin foil
  • A tub
  • Water
  • Small object to place on the boat (rocks/sticks/stones etc)

Instructions:

  • First, fill the tub with enough water so that the boat will be able to move up and down itself
  • Make a boat shape out of tinfoil.
  • Place the boat in the water and talk to your child about what they think will happen.
  • Ask them to add the other assorted objects and explore. Does the boat sink or float? What happens when things are added?

Please note: this activity needs to be supervised as there is water involved.

Download or print activity here

  

Saving bugs from the spider web
Toggle Accordion

This fun, imaginative play based game is all about saving the bugs using tongs/tweezers from the poisonous web.

Age group: generally children 3-5 years

Learning benefit/skills developed:

Promotes fine motor development and increased hand strength in a fun imaginative play-based way.

 What you’ll need:

  • Tray
  • Sticky tape
  • Tongs
  • Toy Bugs- if you don’t have something similar, anything around the house will work such as rocks, sticks, blocks-(just something the child can remove from the tray with tongs)

Instructions:

  • Find a container, any shape  is fine
  • Put bugs or other items in the bottom of the container
  • Place masking tape at various angles across the top of the container
  • Your spider web is ready
  • If you are following on with the colour sorter you will need to place some coloured paper if jars next to the spider web tray.

Tips / follow up activity: 

As a follow on you could have the child colour sort the bugs/other items into coloured jars which will help promote colour recognition and then count how many bugs are in each jar which will promote early numeracy/counting skills.

Items needed for follow on are:

  • Jar/cup
  • Coloured paper

Download or print activity here.

Shape match - encourage shape recognition
Toggle Accordion

Age group: 18  months and older

Learning benefit/skill developed:

  • Encourages shape recognition, labelling and awareness
  • Encourages language through shared conversation and interaction

What you’ll need:

  • ​Large paper (can use butchers paper or baking paper)
  • Textas to draw shapes
  • Post-it notes, or paper squares and blue tac

Instructions:

  • Draw shapes onto large paper, try doing some familiar and some unfamiliar shapes to challenge but not overwhelm your child.

Tips/advice:

  • Hold up a small square with a shape, and ask you, child, to stick it onto the large paper. Encourage your child to label the shape, or repeat the name of the shape after you   
  • You can make this more challenging by hiding the small shape cards around the room, so your child needs to find them and then stick them to the large paper
  • You can also do this game with colours, or letters, or numbers, or pictures, or anything you can match!

Download or print activity here.

Back to Back drawing – guess what it was
Toggle Accordion

write or draw on each other’s back, then, the person that was drawn on tries to identify the word or drawing sparking a conversation about the illustration. What was it? or What did it say?

Age group: generally 3 years and up

Learning benefit/skills developed

  • Stimulate your child’s visual memory skills in a multisensory way.
  • Encourages children to use their imagination and concentration skills.
  • Helps children make a connection between visuals and words
  • Develops social and communication skills.

Variation: This game can also be played with paper fixed to another’s back and as a player draws, the person being drawn on also tries to recreate the drawing on paper in front of them, then players can compare both pictures at the end. This game can also be played between children.

Instructions:

  • Play the game, using your finger to draw on each other’s back. (Or play the paper version, where each player draws a message/drawing) Take turns.
  • The person that was drawn on tries to identify the word or drawing sparking a conversation about the illustration. What was it? or What did it say? Encourage conversation about the differences.
  • This game can start simple, drawing simple shapes or letters and can progress as needed.

Tip:

Playing with your children is important for their brain development. This is how the children learn to interact with the world around them. Playing with your child makes them feel special and builds connection.

Download or print activity here.

Block matching game - build skills with blocks
Toggle Accordion

A fun game with blocks for families to play with their children

Age group: generally 3 years and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Develops children’s small muscle skills by having children manipulate the blocks in a variety of ways,
  • Helps children develop problem-solving and cognitive skills.
  • In the advanced version of the game, children develop higher thinking and comprehension skills while problem-solving.

 What you’ll need: 

  • 2 sets of about 4 identical blocks (wooden blocks or Duplo/Lego etc)

 Instructions:

  • Using one of the blocks sets, create a small structure and present it to the child to copy.
  • Once the child has completed the blocks as you have created it, have the child make something for you to copy.
  • For a more difficult game; make something with the blocks and hide it behind a book or piece of cardboard, describe how the structure looks so as your child can copy. Use words like on top, next to, as well as referring to the colours and shapes. Take it in turns with your child to create and copy.
  • This game can be added too with adding identical blocks or adding more children with numerous sets of blocks.

Download or print activity here.

Paper towel projection – create shapes
Toggle Accordion

Create fun light projections with this easy activity

Age group: generally 2 years and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Develops children’s understanding of light and shadows, such as how they are created and obstructed.
  • Helps children compare and verbally label and categorise projected images based on size and shape.
  • Children exercise a range of thinking and problem solving skills when attempting to create and/or recognise images.

What you’ll need: 

  • Paper towel rolls
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber bands
  • Stickers (any stickers with a clear shape outline will work)
  • Torch or a phone with a light

Instructions:

  • Wrap one end of the paper towel roll with plastic wrap and secure with rubber bands
  • Stick a sticker onto the end of the paper towel roll that is covered with the plastic wrap
  • Turn off the lights and point a torch or phone light onto the end of the paper towel roll without the sticker. Aim the light towards the flat surface.
  • The shape of the sticker will be clearly projected onto the wall

Download or print activity here.

 

Dinosaur small world fun - imaginative play
Toggle Accordion

Small world play is a type of imaginative play using small toys.

Let your child’s imagination run wild as they create different scenarios with their dinosaurs and some natural resources.

Age group: Generally children 2 years and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Encourages children to use their imagination to explore ideas related to different concepts and everyday life.
  • Small world play supports different learning processes including problem solving and reflective thinking. It can support language development through the use of self-talk.
  • Helps children develop their social skills as children can explore different social scenarios with the dinosaurs, by playing in a safe and contained manner.

What you’ll need: 

  • A tub or large container/cardboard box
  • Natural resources such as leaves, bark, sand and twigs
  • Man-made materials
  • Small toys

Instructions:

  • Assemble your tub with natural materials, man-made materials and small toys
  • Place tub on a steady surface such as the floor or table
  • Get involved! Ask your child questions about the world you have created together in the tub. Create scenarios, solve problems and introduce new vocabulary. Have fun!

Special consideration

Children learn from those around them. If your child is learning to use toys in an imaginative way, think about using modelling - this is when older siblings or adults play with the toys in order to show a child how to play or what they can do with the toys. In the case of the dinosaurs, this could include stomping, jumping or eating the leaves. Support your child by bringing their attention to what you are doing by staying close to them or positioning yourself face to face.

Download or print activity here.

Scavenger hunt - an exciting challenge
Toggle Accordion

Families pick a Scavenger game and create an exciting challenge where children go on a hunt to find matching items of colour, smell, shape, size or texture from around the home or garden.

Age group: 2-3 (supported by an adult) and 3-5 (with increasing levels of autonomy).

 Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Classification skills, observation skills, emotional intelligence, patience, resilience and persistence.
  • By using icons instead of only words, children also have a chance to build independence.

Family benefit: 

  • Families can work together on a hunt or help encourage without their child’s independence.
  • Building effective communication as a family, through describing instructions of the game and potential clues.
  • Some of the hunts will be a good opportunity for families to discuss and to reflect on together.

What you’ll need:

  • A basket or a bag to place their items once found
  • A Scavenger hunt activity chart as below. Please open and save to your computer or print. 
  1. Scavenger hunt - Nature
  2. Scavenger hunt - Shapes 
  3. Scavenger hunt - Colours 

Tips:

  • For children who aren’t used to playing independently, you could break the hunt down and give them 1 or 2 of the items to locate at a time.
  • Families could have them up on the fridge to refer back to throughout the day-almost like bingo.
  • It could be beneficial for families to spend time noticing and talking about each object and challenge.

Download or print activity here.

Sticker-line up - keeping toddlers occupied
Toggle Accordion

Sticker Line Up is a great way for toddlers to concentrate and stay occupied, also giving parents a few moments of relaxation.

Age group: Children 2 and up

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Fine motor skills: Children use the pincer/ pinching movement with their forefinger and thumb to remove and then apply the sticker to the paper – this not only strengthens and hones small muscle strength and control but also introduces the correct pencil holding for writing skills as they grow.
  • Early Literacy development - children make their mark from left to right on the paper-based on writing at school taught from left to right (you can adjust writing direction if your home language is not written from left to right).
  • Concentration and Persistence, Those pesky stickers can be tricky to peel off and apply to the paper in just the right spot.  Sticking with this task requires great concentration and persistence – excellent life-long skills.

Instructions:

  1. Draw a line on a long piece of paper.
  2. Provide stickers (doesn’t have to be dots) for the child to stick along the line – left to right (or in a direction you choose).
  3. Can extend by challenging child to follow or create a pattern on the line with the colour of the stickers.

Download or print activity here.

Frozen friend rescue - persistence is key
Toggle Accordion

Frozen friend rescue is a great way for children to explore what needs to happen for the water to turn to ice and what needs to happen for the ice to turn back to water.

Ages: Children 3 and up 

Learning benefit/skills developed:

  • Science, as children, explore liquids and solids.
  • Problem Solving, children need to formulate different strategies for the ‘rescue’, implement, trail these and then alter their approach as needed.
  • Persistence, this activity is not a quick one (unless conducted in the middle of summer) so it requires patience and persistence to get to the end of it.
  • Teamwork & cooperation, this is a great one for siblings to work together on. They will share problem-solving ideas and work together toward a common goal.

Instructions:

  • Select toys that your child might like to rescue (make sure they will survive being frozen in water –plastic toys are best for this).
  • Place toys in a plastic container – Tupperware or an old ice cream container works well.
  • Freeze toys overnight.
  • Provide spoons (as a digging implement) and encourage the child to think about how to ‘rescue’ the toys.

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.

Sign up to our monthly Family Activity hub email to receive the latest activities.

related articles

You may be interested in

see more

Explore the hub

Get in touch

img

Speak to our experts

Call 1300 831 445
img

Book a tour

Start here
img

Find a service near you

Find a service
Talk to us

Enter your details below to chat