child playing

What your child learns when they play

By: G8 Education Team 

For children, play is serious learning. Play gives children time and space to explore, experiment, and create. Through play, your child learns and practices literacy and numeracy skills, physical skills, vocabulary, and cognitive skills including concentration, memory and problem-solving.  

Playing with blocks or Lego™ is a common activity for children at home and in childcare centres. While fine motor skills usually come to mind in terms of the benefits of block play, there are many other benefits for your child such as developing foundational numeracy and scientific skills, along with new vocabulary. The many benefits of block play for your child’s learning and development can be seen here:  


Blocks and Lego™ are examples of open-ended materials. Children are naturally innovative and creative, and love to play with materials or items that are open to plenty of possibilities.  

Cardboard boxes become planes, cars, trucks, swimming pools, spaceships, zoos, hotels and so much more. Sheets or towels become cubby houses or hammocks. Stones, leaves, sticks and other natural materials become artworks as children arrange them within a frame or out on a footpath or grass. Wool or string become a maze as children stretch and tie long pieces across the lounge room, hallway or the backyard to move over, under, through and around. Everyday activities involving play with open-ended materials provide foundational skills for later learning in a range of areas.  

Your home is full of rich materials for children to explore; from pots and pans in kitchen cupboards, to small boxes your child can fill with treasures. Allow your child to lead the play and delight in their discoveries. Listen to their ideas and questions and use everyday moments to help them make connections in their learning.  

It is important to slow down with young children. Listen to what your child is saying through their actions and words and consider how you might respond to support your child to extend their interest or to think deeper.  

Children are always learning when they play. As an adult, you play a critical role in facilitating and building on play opportunities to help your child develop foundational skills for learning and their overall development. You are your child’s first and most important teacher. Play provides both of you with the vehicle or context through which your child learns best.  


The Story Seeds Podcast

The Story Seeds Podcast: Heroes and Queens

This week’s Story Seeds collaboration brings together 7 year old creative rockstar Cici and Aram Kim, Elmhurst Queens-based Korean-American author and illustrator of Bank Street’s Best Children’s Book of 2018 “No Kimchi for Me.” Aram Kim helps Cici grow this story seed about:Electric Kitty, a superhero who floats on blasts of light and fights evil electric things that try to take her superpowers.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

The best virtual places to visit with your children


Zoos, museum and art galleries may have closed their doors – but with virtual tours, behind the scenes live streaming and activities specially designed for children at home, there’s still plenty of fun to be found in taking an online visit.

With careful selection, you can steer your child from the virtual to actual activities to extend the learning.


  • Mogo Zoo came close to obliteration in the summer of bushfires and its gates were closed before lockdowns began. But zoo keeper Chad is posting daily Instagram videos with some of the cutest critters you could hope to encounter – and big ones too. Find them here.
  • Melbourne Zoo is live streaming animal action from Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo 24/7. Catching activity can be a bit hit and miss. so best to tune in at feeding times when the animals are guaranteed to make an appearance. Click here to join in the fun.
  • You can catch live videos daily of keepers feeding the animals at 2pm on the Reptile Park’s Facebook and Instagram, or on the website, a series of educational and fun videos with Park Director Tim Faulkner. Find them here.
  • Complementing live streaming of animals from Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park, Zoos South Australia has collated a highlights package and added a few activities for children. A highlight of this site is a section on how to keep pets happy and healthy at home. Enjoy it by clicking here.
  • Perth Zoo has put some serious thought into rounding out its virtual zoo offering for children with videos complemented by fact sheets and activity tasks, and keeper talks. Find all the fun here.
  • In addition to live streaming feeding time at its aquariums and wildlife parks Merlin has a nifty Education Toolbox featuring worksheets, videos and fun activities. Find it all here.

Art Galleries

Most art galleries around Australia have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by offering a range of resources and activities suitable for children online. Below you will find links to galleries where you will find activities to engage your children in a range of arts, crafts, games and videos.


There’s nothing like theatre to really engage young children but with live performances closed that’s a pleasure to be set aside for later. In the meantime, actors and performers have taken their talents online with some offering fare suitable for the under 5s.

Emily Who is hosting the first Aussie Kids Couch concert, featuring 12 children’s entertainers from around Australia, bringing music and dance into homes everywhere. The line-up includes The Beanies, Cheeky Tunes, Lizzy Loo, Penny Pom Pom, B Minor Music, Pevan and Sarah Van Serano. Find it all here .


  • Canberra’s National Museum of Australia has a seriously good catalogue of activities for children at home. While they’re there, they might even find themselves exploring some of the other treasures to be found in the museum. Find all the activities here.
  • The National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour is a family favourite to visit and its online offering will whet the appetite for a return to the “old normal”. Children can play educational online games, access art and crafts and activities, and explore the museum’s library of videos. Click here to access.


Three healthy baked treats to make with children

 There are no doubts about the benefits of getting children involved in the kitchen. It teaches them the basic language of mathematics, introduces them to science and allows them to participate in all kinds of movements, such as stirring, measuring, pouring and grating. 

Everyone loves a baked treat, but they’re not always the healthiest. Believe it or not, these recipes also incorporate some delicious fresh vegetables! 

All recipes are via the chefs from our centres, so you know they’re child-tested and approved.  


Banana Monkey Muffins  

Banana Monkey Muffins                     

This recipe makes muffins that even the cheekiest monkey would go bananas for! With no refined sugar and delicious elements such as Greek yogurt and cinnamon, they won’t last long out of the oven.  

Makes 12 muffins  


  • 1 and ¾ cups wholemeal self-raising flour
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped banana  



  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper cases. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix them together with a whisk. 
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oil and honey and beat together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then add the yogurt and vanilla. Mix well. (If the coconut oil solidifies in contact with cold ingredients, gently warm the mixture in the microwave in 30 second bursts.) 
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a big spoon, just until combined (a few lumps are ok). 
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups  
  6. Bake the muffins for 16 to 19 minutes, or until the muffins are golden on top and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. 
  7. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool – and enjoy! 


 carrot and oat cookies

Carrot and oat cookies 

Easy and delicious to make, why not whip up a batch of these cookies in the morning then enjoy them as part of a lunchtime picnic on the living room floor or outside, if weather permits. Just pack up your favourite teddies, some books to read and some delicious food – including these cookies, of course!   



  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon 
  • 100gm unsalted butter 
  • 1 egg 
  • 2 grated carrots 
  • 2 ½ cups self-raising flour 
  • 1 cup rolled oats 



  1. Melt butter, add sugar and eggs. Mix well. 
  2. Add rest of ingredients and combine well. If mixture is wet add a little more flour; this should be a cookie dough consistency. Roll, make into your choice of shapes and bake 180 degrees for approx. 15 minutes.


 Muesli bars 

Muesli bars 

Homemade muesli bars are delicious and surprisingly easy to make. Perfect for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up for both adults and children!  



  • ½ cup honey
  • 125 gm butter
  • 1 ½ cup rolled oats 
  • 1 cup rice bubbles 
  • 1 cup sultanas 
  • ½ cup dried apricot – diced 
  • ¼ chia seeds 
  • ¼ cup pepitas 
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds 


  1. Melt the butter and honey in a pot until well combined.  
  2. Add rest of ingredients and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 180 degrees. 
  3. Let cool completely or overnight, then cut into squares. 
  4. Optional: Top with blueberries or other berries of your choice! 


Why shared reading experiences are great for children

By: G8 Education Team 


Shared reading experiences with your child offer valuable opportunities for them to explore the joy of reading. When you enjoy reading together, your child will associate reading with the warmth and closeness you provide while sharing this experience.  

Research also shows that reading with your child increases their vocabulary and sets them up as lifelong readers. 

Did you know? 

When your child is engaging with books and storytelling, they are: 

  • Developing a love of reading;
  • Having fun with rhyming words and the sounds words make;
  • Enjoying the rhythm of language, developing their imagination and interests;
  • Enjoying a positive literacy experience with you! 


Why not try some of the below activities incorporating shared reading? 

The Magic Beach 

This is a wonderful book with so much to see in the illustrations. If you don’t have the book, you can find it on Youtube here

After reading the book: 

  • Google pictures of real-life rock pools with sea life living in them; see if you can describe the creatures and name these; 
  • If you have any shells in the house, take a look to see if any of the same shells are living in the rock pools; 
  • If you are near a beach, go for a beach walk and pick up shells along the way. 


Dear Zoo 

An old favouriteClick here to experience the author reading the story – enjoy the animal noises and make these with your child as you listen or read!  

After reading the book, why not:  

  • Go to the zoo together – virtually, of course! – with Victoria Zoo’s live cam showing some of their animal homes. Find their live cams here.
  • Explore your child’s toy box together and find as many animals as you can. Use some blocks or boxes or Lego and make a zoo for the animals. Sort the animals to see which ones might be able to live together and which ones might be too fierce. 
  • Make animals out of play-dough to explore animal shapes and characteristics. 


How to make a ‘creating kit’ with your child


By: G8 Education Team 

Openended materials support children to design, make, reflect, refine, remake and discuss their ideas. Let’s look at how you can make a creating kit together, one that your child can use over and over 


Gather all the materials 

Go on a treasure hunt in your home and garden/park with your child looking for items to create with. You might find: 

  • Paper from the printer and other types of paper such as wrapping paper, colored paper, cardboard, newspaper, advertising material in your letterbox, envelopes (new or used) 
  • Materials to recycle such as egg cartons, cereal boxes, other small boxes (see what you can save into jars or leave in the bag inside the box if these are in your pantry), plastibottles and containers, big boxes from deliveries or those ones you kept just in case, tissue boxes (great for posting things into when you’re little), paper tubes, ribbons, packaging materials, tissue paper   
  • Natural materials like shells, leaves, twigs, stones, interesting seed pods and any other items capturing your child’s interest   
  • Any art materials like paint, food colouring, glue sticks and other glue, string, tape, stapler, child sized scissors, hole punch, crayons, marker and chalks  


Store the materials in a large container  

Keep adding to these containers over time. Children will love this collection and will spend hours creating, using this resource often 



Enjoy the peace and quiet when your child is fully engaged, or join them to create! Don’t forget to take photos of your child’s creations and share with other family members; your child might like to choose the ones they want a photo of.