Sun safety in the early years: It’s everyone’s responsibility - Step4
Sun safety in the early years:

Sun safety in the early years: It’s everyone’s responsibility

Sun safety is no joke, especially in our sunny nation. Melanoma is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and in 2022, almost 18,000 Australians were tipped to be diagnosed with the disease – a significant increase from previous years.1

Armed with this information, it’s our responsibility to educate the next generation on sun safety and ways to be cautious when heading outdoors. Educators can make a big difference to the way children view sun safety. Here are our top tips on getting the message across in a fun, age-appropriate way.

Dress-up/imaginative play

Encourage the children in to use role-play and pretend they are in a ‘hot’ environment. Put out funky hats, sunglasses, and some empty sunscreen bottles. You could extend this further by challenging them to choose with clothes/items are appropriate for hot weather by including some traditional winter clothes as well.

Sunscreen art

With the use of some sunscreen, paint brushes and black paper, paint a picture and put it out in direct sunlight for a few hours. The paper with sunscreen on it will remain the same colour, while the rest of the paper is faded. Opportunity to teach children that sunscreen will protect your skin like it did the paper.

Sunscreen Sensory activity

Use plastic toys, such as barbie dolls (easier to clean) for the children to practice putting sunscreen on. Make sure there is some water close by so the children can wash their hands.

Making a tent outside

Encouraging children to make tents outside will support in their understanding of shade and how it can be used to protect them from the sun. It’s also a great way to develop problem solving and motor skills.

Child-led sunscreen stations

Setting up a safe and fun sunscreen station for children to use with guidance from an adult gives them a safe environment to learn how-to put-on sunscreen. Using prompts such as pictures and sing-along songs (e.g. head, shoulders, knees and toes) will make this an exciting step to their going outside routine. Here’s an example.

Model sun safety

Make sure you are modelling for the children what sun safety looks like. For example, if possible, put sunscreen on in front of children and wear hats. Ensure that news goes out to parents as well that they are learning sun safety and encourage the use of hats, sunscreen etc. at home.

Incorporating sun safety into arts and crafts

Encourage children to make or decorate their own hats and sunglasses. Ask questions such as, “what makes a good hat? What does it need to cover? Why do we wear hats/ sunglasses? What else can protect us from the sun?” Then, write their responses down and display them on a sun safety learning wall alongside some of their arts and crafts.

We hope this has been a good guide for introducing and continuing education about sun safety in your early learning centre.


  1. Melanoma of the skin statistics | Cancer Australia


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