While it doesn’t always take much, continuing to find fun activities for 1-year olds can sometimes be a chore.
If you don’t provide them with enough stimulation, they can get cranky. And if your little one is mobile already, he or she can get into trouble as well.
Keeping them occupied with fun activities is key. And it’s not only so they don’t get bored and don’t bother you.
It’s to help them with their brain and motor development too. If you keep giving them the same activity over and over, you may not be exposing them to as many development opportunities as you would be if you mixed it up periodically.
To help you with this ongoing issue, we did a bunch of research and came up with a ton of fun activities for 1-year olds.
I promise, if you follow this list, you’ll never run out of things to do with your little one.
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32 Fun Activities for 1-Year Olds
Here’s the collection of fun activities for 1-year olds that we came up with…enjoy!
1) Play educational games on your tablet device.
- I know a lot of parents like to limit “screen time” for their little ones (which is a good thing to limit – at this age, they shouldn’t spend more than a few minutes at a time staring at a screen), but there are a lot of excellent educational apps today that can still be beneficial to a 1-year old child in short intervals.
- Here are a few great apps for 1-year olds on the App Store (you can likely search for the same ones on Google Play if you’re on Android):
2) Contact paper craft.
- Using clear contact paper, tape a sheet down on a table or floor with the sticky side up. Give your child a bunch of cut up pieces of colored construction paper, and show him or her how to stick it to the paper.
- Once they see how the paper sticks, they’ll have a lot of fun putting the pieces in different places and creating a work of art!
- Source: The Measured Mom – get all the instructions here!
3) Fun with alphabet playdough.
- All you need are alphabet cookie cutters and some playdough, and your kids are ready to have fun while learning their ABCs.
- Use the cookie cutters to create playdough letters, and use the letters to spell words (give them words to spell out – a great one to start with is their own name).
- Source: No Time for Flashcards – get all the instructions here!
4) Make a baby play station with toilet paper rolls.
- Basically, you decorate empty toilet paper rolls and put them on a rod where your toddler can have fun rolling it. They’re easy to make, and it’s a great way to re-purpose something that you would normally throw in the trash.
- Source: Kids Activity Blog – get all the instructions here!
5) Pretend play grocery store.
- You should be able to do this with everything you already have at home – set up items from your pantry, including fruits and vegetables, arranged in a sort of “fake grocery store” kind of way. This could be a simple as putting things on a low bookshelf.
- Let your child go shopping! If you don’t have a mini/toy shopping cart, any box or basket will do.
- Turn it into an educational game by requiring your child to identify the item before they take it. If they aren’t quite ready for that yet, it’s an opportunity to teach them the words of the items they are “shopping” for.
6) Play peek-a-boo.
- Eventually your child may get too old for this, but it’s still a classic game that young toddlers love. It’s one of my favorite fun activities for 1-year olds that doesn’t require any kind of materials or objects.
7) Use an empty diaper box and create a fun “pull along” toy.
- This is not only a great way to give your baby support for sitting up, but it’s also a ton of fun for them.
- Use an older diaper box, add some toys, attach a string, and put your baby in the box! Then, you can pull him or her along the floor (which they really get a kick out of).
- Source: Pink Oatmeal – get all the instructions here!
8) Blow bubbles.
- As an adult, I still have a lot of fun with this. For the amount of effort that goes into this, this has to be one of my favorite activities to do with a kid.
- If you want to REALLY go nuts with this, check out the Gazillion Bubble Hurricane Machine.
9) Play catch with a ball.
- True, your 1-year old may not be physically capable of playing a good game of catch, but you can still have a good time by rolling the ball back and forth to each other on the floor.
10) Put a ball pit in your home.
- This is actually not as expensive as it sounds…all you need is the pit (about $10) and the balls (you can get 200 of them for about $30).
- Hours of entertainment without having to leave your home. (And you don’t have to worry as much about the balls being completely covered in bacteria.)
11) Build a fort.
- Put a few chairs near each other, drape a big sheet over it all, add some pillows…and you’ve got yourself a legitimate fortress.
- Bonus tip: Bring some kind of colorful light device into the fort (or even a plain flashlight will do).
12) Stack recycled plastic cups (and knock them over!)
- Wash out and save old plastic containers (such as applesauce containers) and allow your toddler to stack them in different configurations (see picture above).
- It’s a fun, free, creative way to keep them entertained. And when it’s all over, they get the pleasure of knocking the whole thing down!
- Source: And Next Comes L – get all the instructions here!
13) Obstacle course for crawlers
- This is another simple one that simply uses whatever you have at home. Using couch cushions, pillows, etc. create a simple obstacle course that allows your child to crawl around and work on their motor skills.
- Source: Hands On as We Grow – get all the instructions here!
14) Rolling things down a ramp
- Using an open board book or some other solid surface, create an inclined ramp. Let your child roll balls and other toys down the ramp.
- Source: Learn with Play at Home – get all the instructions here!
15) Sing a song together.
- Take your child’s favorite nursery rhyme or song and sing them together.
- Make sure to allow him or her to also try and sing the words.
16) Play with fabric scraps.
- This is another activity that uses recycled items (scraps of fabric and a used wipes container – both things you would normally throw away).
- Put the fabric scraps into the container and let your toddler pull them out, experiencing the different colors and textures of the fabric.
- Source: Hands On as We Grow – get all the instructions here!
17) Go for a walk.
- Sometimes the simplest activities are the most enjoyable. Go for a walk with your little one, experience nature, and get some exercise while you’re at it.
18) Cruise from object to object (to practice walking)
- If your child is starting to walk, this is probably something they’ve already tried doing (“cruising”). Help reinforce the behavior by setting up objects intentionally for cruising.
- For example, set up multiple chairs in a row so that your child can cruise from one to another.
- Source: How Wee Learn – get all the instructions here!
19) Play with sidewalk chalk outside.
- One of my favorite pastimes…grab some chalk, go outside, and draw on the ground!
- Not only is this a fun activity for a 1-year old, but it’s an opportunity to challenge their motor skills. It’s harder to draw with chalk on the sidewalk compared to finger painting inside the house.
20) Reuse an empty gallon milk container as a “discovery jug”
- Cut a hole in an old milk container and fill it with small toys; let your child discover them as he or she pulls them out.
- Just watch out for putting in any toys or objects that are too small and could present a choking hazard.
- Source: All Our Days – get all the instructions here!
21) Finger painting
- Another classic activity – grab some finger paint and a piece of paper and let your little one create a masterpiece.
22) Telephone call
- Using a toy phone (or an old phone / disconnected cell phone), play a game with your little one where you pretend to call each other. You can have conversations with each other or imaginary people.
- Feel free to use funny voices or make up characters to enhance the fun.
23) Have a dance party (include the whole family)
- Crank up some of your favorite dance music and get everyone involved. You’ll know you’re doing it right if it quickly leads to lots of laughter.
24) Play various counting games
- The nice thing about this activity is that you can do it anywhere. Examples include:
- Count your fingers and toes
- Count the number of steps as you walk up stairs
- Count the number of cars on the street
- Count the number of chairs in the room
- (you get the idea)
25) Read books
- This one is hopefully something you’re doing on a regular basis. And quite honestly, this should be much higher up on the list. Nevertheless, if you’re struggling to think of fun activities for 1-year olds, you can always default to reading a book.
- Here are the top books for 1-year olds.
26) Organize toys
- This activity has the added bonus of cleaning up your living room or basement. While it may seem like a chore, it’s a good activity to teach your child:
- Good habits
- Refining motor skills
- While an older child might view this as an annoying chore, you can easily make a fun game out of it with a 1-year old.
27) Letter magnets on a cookie sheet
- This is another great way to start teaching the ABCs and allows a child to be creative without making a mess.
- Simply use letters like these with a metal cookie sheet, and allow your kid to place letters wherever they want.
28) Play in a tunnel
- For whatever reason, kids seem to have a blast playing in these tunnels. It’s also great for motor skill development.
- Don’t get stuck in there! (I’ve done this before).
- Here’s one tunnel that a lot of parents seem to enjoy.
29) Balls in a muffin tin
- Here’s a fun activity for 1-year olds that only requires some bouncy balls (or any toys that are small and round-shaped) and a muffin tin.
- Give your child the muffin tin and a basket full of bouncy balls. Show them how they can take the ball and place it in the muffin tin.
- Great activity for motor development and learning to hold and transfer objects.
- Source: The OT Tool Box – get all the instructions here!
30) Play with a water sensory bin
- This is a variation of bath time play that you can do outdoors with your toddler.
- Fill a bin with a little bit of water and some toys. Let your toddler sit in the bin and play with them.
- Obviously keep close supervision while your child is in the water. It’s helpful if the bin is large enough for your child to sit in, but small enough where he or she won’t fall over while reaching for toys.
- Source: Toddler Approved (via the Iowa Farmer’s Wife) – get more information here!
31) Play the “drums”
- Take out a few pots and pans, and turn them upside down in front of your child. Let him or her bang on the pans with a wooden spoon.
- Some toddlers will find this game hilarious and it’s great for coordination and motor skill development.
- Warning: You may regret this later.
32) Create a sensory board
- This is a great home DIY project for parents:
- Take a wooden board, add various objects to it (see picture above), and affix it securely to a wall or piece of furniture.
- Let your child explore it!
- Kids love to feel different textures and see how objects react to being touched or moved.
- Source: Fun at Home With Kids – get more information here!
Having Fun Yet?
Wow, I’m exhausted just looking at all of these fun activities for 1-year olds. If you’re ever bored or unsure of what to do with your little one, chances are you’ll find something on this list that works. It’ll be awhile before you try all of these activities.
What are some other activities that you enjoy doing with your toddler? Leave a comment below! 🙂