Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Parenting Pointers: Simple Activities for Toddlers

 Written by mother and teacher, Lisa Forsythe, ‘Simple Activities for Toddlers: A Practical Play-at-Home Handbook for Parents’ helps parents break the cycle of repetitive playtime, to introduce new activities that are not only highly fun and engaging, but help toddlers develop fundamental skills. Using common objects found around the house, the book’s activities call on sensory play, creativity, STEAM, crafts and more.


After giving birth to her son Thomas, Lisa Forsythe found her teaching experience had an exciting new outlet, especially when it came to keeping her little boy active and engaged.


Forsythe quickly discovered that traditional playtime didn’t need to be dominated by repetitive, seemingly-mundane games, but that it presented a very real opportunity to help Thomas develop his fundamental skills (and create tons of happy memories in the process!).


Lisa has now crafted her skills into a new book, ‘Simple Activities for Toddlers: A Practical Play-at-Home Handbook for Parents’.


Do you find yourself repeating the same activities with your toddler and are looking for new innovative ideas on how to keep them amused whilst making learning fun? If so, Lisa and Thomas have lots of great ideas to help you.


The activities in this book are of high educational quality that maximizes the best use of your time, resources, and space. These play-based activities help your child thrive and ensures that they get a head start in life. All the activities have been ´toddler approved´ or field tested by Thomas.


Lisa Forsythe has over 15 years of experience as a teacher across Australia, NZ & UK. Since becoming a mother to Thomas she has focused her time on developing simple activities that develop foundational skills toddlers need to learn before engaging with more complex concepts and understandings. This is a practical guide for parents that creates opportunities to bond with your child and make beautiful life-long memories.


The activities predominately require things like recyclables, household items and common craft supplies; so, saving you money whilst being kind to the environment. There are a range of activities from sensory play, imaginative play, STEAM, crafts and games. They spark curiosity, enjoyment, motivation, deep learning, and creativity. The hard work of planning and ensuring that your toddler is equipped with the foundational skills they need for life has been done for you.

I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.

Why did you write this book?

Last year (2020) was challenging for many families. In March Spain, along with many other countries, went into lockdown. We were confined to our apartment with an almost 2-year-old. 

Suddenly, I needed to entertain my toddler all day long whilst making sure I offered a variety of activities and physical exercise while cooped up in an apartment. I drew on my experience as a primary school teacher to create play-based activities to engage my son whilst ensuring he was developing holistically. I started an Instagram page, @simpletoddleractivities to share some of the activities we were doing with friends and family to offer activity ideas if they needed them. Then, it became something to keep me sane during that challenging time.

Finally, it grew into something much larger, a community of people who shared ideas and provided each other with play inspirations. Throughout this journey, I realized parents wanted some inspiration for play-based activities to keep their toddlers busy whilst giving them the best start in life. Being a primary school teacher and parent, I wanted to use my teaching expertise to create simple activity ideas that are attainable for other parents and yet achievable for their toddlers. 

Once I decided to create the book, I wanted to portray a realistic image of activities families could do at home. Everything was field tested by my son and all the photos taken at my house using mainly natural light. I hired a photographer, Nuno Perestrelo, so the photos would be of high quality. 

Another element I considered was using resources that are easily accessible, like recyclables, household items and common craft supplies. Furthermore, I want to help reduce overconsumption that plagues many families and in turn, has negative impacts for the environment.

Why is it important for parents to engage with their young toddlers in a variety of fun ways?

Playtime with parents is important. Children crave time with parents as it makes them feel loved, appreciated, and supported. In the future, it allows them to feel comfortable sharing their problems and concerns with you.

When you play with your child, you are connecting with them and enhancing their well-being. You model skills such as sharing, negotiating, conflict resolution, sportsmanship, reasoning, and effort. Children are always watching and learning from those around them, especially their parents. So, through play, children have the chance to emulate what they see and practice a wide range of skills. As a parent, joining in children’s play allows you to extend their learning, develop their coping skills and establish a deep bond with them. Hence, you create beautiful life-long memories together.

While the benefits of play are innumerable, play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive, and emotional strength. There are also social benefits, like developing an understanding of social expectations and rules, and provides opportunities to communicate, to listen, and to compromise.

Play is essential for healthy brain development and enables toddlers to engage in the world around them at their own pace. Kids process their emotions and new concepts through play. It allows them to develop new competencies that enhance their confidence, decision-making skills, and resilience. Therefore, it is important to engage with a variety of different types of play to spark your child´s curiosity and so they can discover things of interest to them. Playtime encourages kids to continue exploring their own interests and develop fundamental skills they will use in the future.

 What qualities make good parent/toddler activities?

The most important thing to keep in mind is to have fun with your child. As parents, we tend to have hectic schedules, but making even 20 mins a day throughout the week is beneficial to their development. It´s about quality time without distractions. Over time, a wide variety of activities that develop your child holistically are essential. I will share some of my favourite activities.

Reading together daily! They learn so many new words and ideas from books.

Sing simple songs and nursery rhymes. It is fun to play with words, develop rhyming and rhythm skills.

Get active! Try to get outside when possible and move your body to develop those gross motor skills. Activities like dancing, balancing, walking, running, jumping, bouncing/kicking balls, and climbing are lots of fun. 

Craft and sensory activities that are process focussed are the best. Process art is one of our favourites. Process over product!

Pretend play! Use a few props from a previous craft activity to ignite their imagination. 

Cooking or snacktivities! This allows children to build their independence using everyday ´real´ items. We love making (and eating) pancakes together on the weekends.

Early board games, normally 2+ —that involve using one’s memory. It´s a great way to teach skills like listening, turn-taking, and following directions. Games like bingo or memory are a great place to start.  


About the Author:


Lisa Forsythe is a teacher, a mum and author of Simple Activities for Toddlers: A practical Play-At-Home Handbook for Parents.


Caring for her toddler Thomas, throughout the pandemic, gave her the inspiration to create @simpletoddleractivites on Instagram to offer other parents activity ideas. This has led to her writing her debut book to share her expertise to other parents.


Lisa holds multiple Australian university degrees in education. She has a Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Teaching, Honours (UON); Master of Education (CSU) and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching of Asia (ANU). She has been a member of the teaching profession for over 15 years and is passionate about play based education and learning. Lisa wants to share her educational knowledge with others to impart the importance of developing a child´s foundational skills before they´re ready to enter formal schooling. The best part is her book is full of fun activities you can easily do at home, predominately using recyclables and craft supplies. 

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