Ideas and activities

What can I do?

You’ll find some short videos and simple, fun activities that you and your child can do together.

We’ve broken down the activities by age, but no one knows your child better than you do. So you could pick and choose the ideas that feel right for you, adapt our suggestions or even come up with your own. And you can use whatever language you feel most comfortable with.

Ideas: 0 – 6 months


Fun activities to add to your routine

  • Let your baby splash at bath time. Talk about what’s happening and how it feels. Say the same words and do the same actions over and over – things like pouring water on their feet and saying, ‘Wash, wash, wash your toes.’

Ideas to try with your child on the go

  • Stick your tongue out and see if your baby can copy you. Try blinking your eyes and making funny noises with your lips.
  • Copy the noises your baby makes. React to what they’re doing – try saying things like, ‘Oh, you’re telling me a story,’ or, ‘Wow, you can make loud noises.’
  • Have a guess at what your baby might be thinking or feeling and put it into words – for example, ‘It looks like you’re sleepy.’

Other ideas

  • Play together with fabric books that have different textures. Try scrunching the fabric to get your baby’s attention or stroking their hands with the fabric. Name the objects you are playing with and talk about how they feel.
  • Sing lullabies which are simple, soothing and repetitive – for example, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
  • Say or sing rhymes with actions where you tickle and touch your baby – for example, songs like Round and Round the Garden.

Ideas: 6 – 12 months


Fun activities to add to your routine

  • Try doing actions that go with what you’re saying – like waving when you say ‘Hello.’ You can do this every morning when your child wakes up.

 

Ideas to try with your child on the go

  • When you are out and about or looking at a picture book with your child, notice what they are looking at and describe it. For example, ‘Oh, see the dog,’ or ‘Wow, she’s jumping.’ Try to do this within a couple of seconds, before their attention moves on to something else.

 

Other ideas

  • Put some everyday items in a bag and get your baby to find what’s in there. Talk about what they are and how they feel.
  • Play peekaboo games using a scarf or your hands to hide your face, saying things like ‘Where are you? There you are!’
  • Gather a few noise-making objects like spoons to bang on saucepans. Watch what your child does and copy it and describe what you are doing.
  • You could also act out actions in songs. Try patting your palms together or on your legs to the beat of Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake. See if your baby will clap along with you.

Ideas: 12 – 24 months


Fun activities to add to your routine

  • At mealtimes, say the names of the foods your child is eating and say what they’re like, using words like ‘crunchy’, ‘squishy’, ‘sour’, ‘cold’, ‘warm’.
  • Give your child choices, so that they can hear and understand more words. For example, ‘Do you want an apple or an orange?’ Make sure you give them time to respond!
  • Try playing pretend games. For example, you can make meal times fun by pretending to be a dinosaur eating trees as you bite into some broccoli, or a monkey enjoying a slice of banana. Make sure that both you and your child have some food to try!

 

Ideas to try with your child on the go

  • When you’re out and about, notice the different noises your child responds to. Talk about what they can hear – for example, ‘The birds are saying tweet-tweet,’ or ‘It’s a car, vrrrrrrooom!’
  • When your child starts using words respond to what they say and make it a conversation using words for actions as well as things, for example, ‘Mummy? Yes, Mummy is kicking the ball.’

 

Other ideas

  • Look at picture books together. With each new page, give your child time to point out things to you. Talk about what they can see using words for actions as well as for things – for example, ‘The monkey is eating.’

Ideas: 2 – 3 year olds


Fun activities to add to your routine

  • Do daily tasks with your child. Talk about what you are doing and why you are doing it. When hanging up the washing, you could say ‘The clothes are wet, let’s hang them up to dry.’ Give them simple tasks like passing you the socks. Praise them for helping.

 

Ideas to try with your child on the go

  • When you’re out and about, build on what your child says about what they can see – so when they say ‘Big bird!’ you can say, ‘Yes, it’s a big, noisy bird called a crow’.
  • Talk to your child about what has happened so far in the day – for example, ‘We went to the shops this morning, didn’t we? We bought some apples.’ And talk about what is going to happen next – ‘After lunch we’ll do the washing up.’

 

Other ideas

  • You could make a photo-book of funny, or memorable, family events and talk about it with your child.
  • Sing songs together that encourage your child to use their imagination. For example, try singing The Wheels on the Bus and ask your child to suggest other things on the bus and describe what sound they make.
  • Read picture books together. Talk about the things they can see and how we use them. For example, ‘A bed is something we sleep in.’
  • Use books to talk about your own experiences, and theirs, giving them time to respond. ‘Oh look, the boy is at the park. We went to the park yesterday with Granny.’

Ideas: 3 – 5 year olds


Fun activities to add to your routine

  • Try sharing familiar books at bedtime. Pause when reading so that your child can join in. Talk about the sounds at the beginning of words and words that start with the same sound (like words beginning with P).
  • Encourage your child to recall what has happened in the story. For example, ‘Why is bear feeling sad?’ Ask them to guess what might happen – ‘What should they do next?’ – or how the story might end – ‘Do you think they’re going to find the treasure? Where could it be?’

 

Ideas to try with your child on the go

  • When you are out and about, talk to your child about what they can see. Play games like, ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with…’ and say the first sound of the thing that you can see – ‘something beginning with b-b-b-b.’ You can go first and show your child how the game works.

 

Other ideas

  • Try role-playing games together such as shopping. Set items out on the sofa, give your child a bag and some pretend money. Then switch roles and let them be the shopkeeper.
  • Play teddy bears’ picnic. Put soft toys in a circle and give your child a few cups and spoons. Give your child a chance to tell you what to do like, ‘Stir teddy’s tea.’
  • Plan a treasure hunt game, where your child has to listen to your instructions to find a clue or an object. For example, ‘Try looking behind the sofa’.

Apps for 2 to 5 year olds


 

 

HLM approved apps

We know that phones or tablets are part of many families’ everyday lives and kids love to use them, but it’s not always easy to know which apps and games can benefit your child’s learning.

That is why we have given a quality mark to apps that an independent educational panel believes have good educational value. This is an initial release, so other apps may be added in the future.

Why not try these with your child alongside the other activities listed on this site?

CBeebies Storytime app

CBeebies Storytime

CBeebies Storytime is filled with free interactive story books and bedtime stories for young children and is a great way to enjoy reading with your little one. The library is always growing, with amazing stories featuring all the CBeebies’ favourites.

Age: 0-5

Platform: Apple, Android, Kindle

 

CBeebies Playtime Island

CBeebies Playtime Island

CBeebies Playtime Island contains a wide range of fun and educational games to help children understand the world around them and support the development of core skills. Children can play along with all of CBeebies’ most popular characters.

Age: 0-5

Platform: Apple, Android, Kindle

 

Lingumi  - Kids English

Lingumi - Kids' English

Lingumi provides a course focused on spoken and communicative English. The app provides sets of learning games, speech recognition games and video based games to help the child grow their grammar and get them speaking their first words.

Age: 2-5

Platform: Apple, Android

 

Kaligo

Kaligo

Kaligo is a digital handwriting exercise book designed to teach children how to write using a stylus and tablet, built on an AI machine learning platform. A self-paced approach enables children to progress at their own speed according to their own ability, whilst AI Machine learning provides real-time corrective feedback.

Age: 3-5

Platform: Apple, Android

 

Fonetti

Fonetti

Fonetti is a Listening Bookshop™ that provides young children with a patient, comforting listening ear to help in the learning-to-read journey, but also with the added benefit of tracking progress, identifying reading challenges, and highlighting to their adult carers where the most support is needed.

Age: 5+

Platform: Apple

 

Teach Your Monster to Read

Teach Your Monster to Read

Teach Your Monster to Read is a phonics and reading game that’s helped children learn to read. The app covers the first two years of learning to read, from matching letters and sounds to enjoying small books.

Age: 3-5

Platform: Apple, Android, Kindle

 

Navigo

Navigo

The Navigo app aims to support beginner readers to develop reading skills (accuracy, fluency and comprehension) through engaging with the personalised content and activities.

Age: 5+

Platform: Android

More information on apps


Choosing an app for your child – the FEED test

There are lots of apps that say they are ‘educational’ but you’ll want to reassure yourself that’s the case and that they are right for your child. The FEED check may help.

Fun – Will your child enjoy the app? Will it keep their attention?

Educational – Is there a clear educational aim? Do you know what your child will learn? Will it keep them learning and allow them to progress?

Engaging – Will it help your child if they get stuck and give them feedback, letting them know they’ve got challenges right?

Design – Is it attractive and easy to use? Is it inclusive and does it avoid gender and racial stereotypes? Can an adult change the settings? Is it safe with links to the internet and adverts protected behind a parental gate?

 

Find more information on how to support your child’s learning through apps and get advice on screen time:

 

Early years apps pilot: home learning environment legal disclaimer.

Get more information


You can find out more information and get more ideas and activities to do with your child from the following websites:

 

 

Other supporters

Partners supporting the Hungry Little Minds campaign including Arriva, The Behavioural Insights Team, Clarks, Coram, Early Years Alliance, Education Endowment Foundation, Family Lives, Greggs, Harper Collins, I Can, Institute of Wellbeing, Lego, Lottery Community Fund, NCB, National Literacy Trust, NSPCC, Pacey, Scouts, Shine, Save the Children, Triple P, easy peasy, Penguin Random House UK, WH Smiths

If you’re a national organisation and would like to work with us to help get Hungry Little Minds out to parents, please email hle.coalition@education.gov.uk.