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50 Things To Do Before You’re 5

50 Things provides a framework of low and no cost activities for families.


Childminders, Local Authorities, Parent and Toddler/Community Group Leaders, Settings & Early Years Practitioners

Aimed at

Early Years Foundation Stage


Community Support, Early Years, Language Development, School Readiness, Transition


Student/Family Support

Why was the project needed?

Too many children within Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area were arriving at Primary school with low literacy levels, language skills, or just a lack of life experiences. This immediately put them at a disadvantage against the rest of the class, and research shows that most children never recover from this early disadvantage, affecting not just their attainment but their confidence and aspirations as well. 

What happened and what was the impact?

50 Things is a place-based offer for all families, followed up by targeted support from local providers for children growing up in disadvantaged circumstances. The suggestions were tailored to the local area and within easy geographical reach, taking cultural and religious sensitivities into account.  

The original suggestions were compiled with the help of local Bradford families and included suggestions for all ages and stages of development from 0-5 years. All activity suggestions underwent a screening and quality-improvement process with speech and language therapists and experts from special schools to ensure that the 50 things were fully inclusive for children with additional needs. 

The project was promoted through a range of channels, including: 


  • Social media.
  • Early Years settings.
  • Primary Schools.
  • Child and Family Centres.


50 Things can be accessed in different ways – primarily through an app that is free to download and an easily accessible website which includes translation services. In the future posters, stickers and activity cards will be shared widely.  

The original launch in Bradford had a successful network of ‘project enthusiasts’ who offered information and support on a peer-to-peer basis, providing an authentic and effective means to promote the projects with families. 50 Things was made available to a number of Local Authorities (LAs) nationally with a steering group that has national representation. The offer can be localised to include a number of options for each experience, in a variety of locations around the county. These locations were decided researched and developed by us in ensuring a localised product was available in just two weeks. 

What did and didn't work?

The scheme was launched in just two weeks. 

By July 2021 there had been over 3000 users of the app 

1992 of these were from Cambridgeshire 

Over 600 of these from the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area. 

The original project lead time was only two weeks. If we were to run the project again, we would try to give ourselves some more time, allowing us the chance to engage with a wider-range of children and giving us more time to advertise our offering. 

How did you measure success?

  • Improved school readiness. 
  • Improved parental confidence in engaging in playful family activities with their child. 
  • Improved early speech, language and communication/oracy skills. 
  • Better fine and gross motor skills. 
  • Change in behaviours, leading to better health, especially lower obesity, coronary and respiratory fitness. 
  • Improved self-regulation, metacognition and resilience. 


Ingredients For Success

It is crucial to ensure that each of the 50 Things are suitably localised and reflect local cultural, religious, ethnic and linguistic variation, sensitivity and need. 


Is the Project Complete or Ongoing

The project is on-going with more local authorities signing up.

How is the Project Sustainable

  • The scheme was launched in just two weeks. 
  • By July 2021 there had been over 3000 users of the app 
  • 1992 of these were from Cambridgeshire 
  • Over 600 of these from the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area. 

Area Most Impacted

Early Years Goals Early Years Outcomes Language & Communication School Readiness Speech Language and Communication

See how others have implemented this Big Idea

Using the 50 Things initiative in Norwich

Next steps to do something similar yourself

These are a list of Big Idea resources that you can use to implement in your setting:

More information can be found on the '50 things to do' website which can be found here:

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough:

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Preparing for Literacy here

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Social and Emotional Learning here

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Parental Engagement here

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