Did you know that 90% of a child’s brain develops in the first five years of life? When you talk, read, sing, draw and play with your child, you’re helping them grow up smarter, happier and better prepared for a bright future. These are some of the easiest and most powerful activities you can do as a parent!

Talk. Read. Sing. Draw. Play. is a campaign of University of the Pacific’s Beyond Our Gates program and is implemented in partnership with First 5 San Joaquin and other key community partners. Learn more about the campaign and explore fun everyday activities for your child today!

WASH | Wash hands for 20 seconds.

Washing your hands, wearing a mask and keeping six feet apart from others while out in public helps stop the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses like the flu. Help your child practice these important steps early and often to keep your family healthy, happy and strong.

Wash hands for 20 seconds.

Washing your hands often and correctly is one of the best ways to prevent you and your child from getting sick. Make sure to wet hands, then add soap, lather, and scrub all around for 20 seconds. Need some help with proper hand washing encouragement for your child? Check out our hand washing activities below!

Wear your mask.

Wearing a mask helps keep your family and others healthy. There are many ways to make wearing a mask fun for your child in order to keep everyone safe. Consider letting them decorate their mask to show off their art skills or use it as an opportunity to play pretend doctor, dentist or other mask wearing profession! Masks should not be worn by children under two. Learn more about proper mask wearing for you and your child here.

Stay six feet apart.

Wearing masks and staying six feet apart from those who are not part of your household can keep everyone safe. Talk to your child about the importance of physical distancing and make it fun! Count six feet together by using their toys to measure, then use that measurement when outside to remind them how far away to stay from others. Learn more about the importance of physical distancing here.

Want additional COVID-19 resources to learn about staying safe and more?
Visit our COVID-19 Resource page.


Talking with your child helps them become a strong reader by building their vocabulary. Talk with them every day about anything and everything — what you see, what you’re doing —and always use the language that you know best!

Start talking:

  • Talk to them about the different foods they see when you’re at the grocery store.
    “Those apples are red!”
  • Talk to them about the toys they are playing with during playtime.
    “That building block is big!”


Reading out loud with your child helps build their language skills — even before they can talk. Don’t just stop at reading the words on the page, talk to them about the pictures in the book and ask them questions about what they see. Once you find a favorite book, be prepared to read it over and over — and over again!

Start reading:

  • Ask a question about the story before you turn the page.
    “What do you think will happen next?”
  • Talk about the colors, shapes and characters
    “Look at the big yellow sun on the top of the page!”


Singing with your child helps prepare them to learn how to read. Singing helps them hear the sounds words make, and rhythm and rhymes help with learning and understanding. Don’t worry, a professional singing voice is not required to help your child learn. You don’t even have to memorize songs to sing, you can make up your own!

Start singing:

  • Make up songs for bath time, mealtime, bedtime or any time!
  • Read books that have songs in them to sing to your child.
  • Come up with sing-along songs that you can sing together while driving.


Drawing helps your child learn the skills they need to write letters and words. Give your child lots of paper and big crayons to let them draw their pictures. Those scribbly lined art pieces they draw are helping them develop what they need to learn how to write.

Start drawing:

  • Give your child a blank piece of paper and something to draw with.
    — Ask your child to draw you a picture of something familiar like your house or a family pet.
    — Download and print the Talk. Read. Sing. Draw. Play. Mealtime Placemat below to give them something to draw on while waiting for dinner.
  • Make sure to hang their hard work on the fridge or somewhere they can see when they are done!


Playing helps children practice what they are learning. When children play, they use language and other growing skills to help them problem-solve while having fun. When you play with your child, tell stories and talk about what you’re playing to keep the learning going.

Start playing:

  • Use your imagination and your child is sure to follow! Pretend play and tell a story about the fun adventure you’re going on.
  • Visit the First 5 California activities page to find playtime fun for all 0-5 ages.


Addditional Resources