Early learning activity sheets

UNICEF South Africa, the Department of Social Development, the Department of Basic Education and the LEGO Foundation have developed and distributed easy to understand early learning activity sheets for parents and caregivers of children birth to 5 years.

The early learning activities are playful and can be easily incorporated into daily routines using low-cost/no-cost resources. The activity sheets enable parents to support the early learning and development of their children while at home during the COVID-19 lockdown. Translation into the 11 South African languages is underway.

The activities are based on the National Curriculum Framework for Children birth to four years (NCF), the National Parenting Programme, the National Integrated ECD Policy, CAPS for Grade R, as appropriate, and other appropriate resources for this age group.

More than 18 activity sheets have been developed and distributed via government channels and through collaborative partnership with the National Early Childhood Development Alliance (NECDA) and the South African Congress for Early Childhood Development.

Dissemination and reach

Online dissemination: The sheets are shared via the social media platforms of government and partner organisations (e.g., Facebook, Twitter). Dedicated websites and Facebook pages are also used to disseminate the sheets. Most parents receive the sheets via WhatsApp messages, as ECD practitioners have parents’ numbers on their phones.

Offline dissemination: As not all families have data or internet access, partners are finding creative ways to get the sheets into the hands of families who need them most. A recent informal survey found that 10% of the partners (including practitioners) print and distribute the materials to parents at their own costs.

The sheets are produced in pdf and jpeg formats.

An initial survey found that at least 124,000 parents were reached in the first seven days. Since then the social media team has continued to monitor daily dissemination and use of the sheets, and the team is working on ways to track and measure the real reach of the sheets.


Parents, partners, ECD practitioners have all shared that they find the activities in the sheets to be easy to use, enjoyable, and age appropriate.

  • “I have been passing on the parenting info to the families in our block – it came at just the right time as they now have more ideas for spending all this lockdown time with their little one.”
  • “These are great– thank you so much!! My husband and I were just wondering where we could find such resources, as our daycare center did not provide us with any guidance/resources….”
  • “I have circulated them on a network we have set up to support young children with disabilities and their parents. They are much appreciated!”
  • “It is to the point, easy to understand and gives us something in our hands to share and maintain contact with our parents. As the leader of an NPO (non-profit organization) I am scrambling to figure out how to manage the risk associated with Covid-19, and doing scenario planning in the event of extended closure of schools – which will impact the playgroups- and the possibility of seeing a dramatic reduction of our income and how to deal with that in terms of our workforce. In light of all of this, I feel blessed at having access to these resources which we will definitely disseminate to our parents.”

Early learning booklets

Following the success of the activity sheets, the Department of Basic Education, with support from UNICEF South Africa, is developing a series of 10 booklets under the theme “Let’s play, learn and grow together.” These early learning booklets will be shared with parents on various platforms and through networks in all 11 languages.

For more information and to download the Early Learning Activity Sheets visit the UNICEF South Africa page.

Sample sheets: