100+ Easy Activities for One Year Olds (Mostly Free!)

100+ Easy Activities for One Year Olds (Mostly Free!)


Keeping toddlers busy is a challenge, but particularly for those 1 year olds who are fiercely independent, but still need a lot of help with most things. To help, this list of 100 activities for one year olds will give you ideas to try, whether indoors, outside, or in the kitchen.


Image via iStock

Activities for One Year Olds

After three kids and three one year olds, I can say with confidence that I adore this stage of toddlerhood! But alas, with short attention spans, only partially developed communication skills, and a loose understanding of boundaries and limits, this phase can also be really hard when it comes with keeping the kids busy.

To help, this list of more than 100 ideas includes classic activities to remind you of the simple ones you might have forgotten about, new ideas for sensory play, easy outdoor activities, fun indoor activities, art projects and more. The idea here is to give you inspiration to make it through your days with a few more tools in your tool kit when you run out of your usuals.

Easy Kids Activities

Here are some classic toddler activities to try with your kids. Most of these ideas don’t involve buying anything new, though I did include some of our favorite toys to play with too.

  1. Read books
  2. Listen to music
  3. Dance
  4. Magna Tile bowling (set up a few tiles upright and roll a ball into them)
  5. Popsicle bath (Give the kids a popsicle during bath time! Idea via Busy Toddler)
  6. Bubble bath
  7. Put baby bottle tops into a reusable bag and let them take them out and put them back in
  8. Play with a play kitchen
  9. Play peek-a-boo
  10. Race cars
  11. Stack Duplos
  12. Stack Bristle Blocks
  13. Stack Blocks
  14. Stack baby books
  15. Practice animal noises
  16. Stretch
  17. Simple yoga stretches (or Cosmic Kids Yoga)
  18. Put away laundry
  19. Practice putting on clothes and shoes (don’t expect proficiency!)
  20. Facetime with loved ones
  21. Watch garbage trucks or cars out the window
  22. Look for birds outside
  23. Smell flowers and discover colors
  24. Practice clapping and waving
  25. Practice learning names for parts of the body

TIP: Sometimes just changing locations in the house to do an activity you usually do can make it feel fresh and fun!

toddler-with-bubbles-in-binSensory Activities for One Year Olds

Getting those little hands into materials to work their senses is a fun way for them to further their development, explore, and have fun. Many things can be considered “sensory activities”, even eating, but these are a few fun ones to try.

  1. 2-Ingredient Playdough
  2. Salt Dough
  3. Sensory bin with bubbles
  4. Sensory bin with kenetic sand
  5. Pom-Pom Push: Cut a hole into the top of a clean yogurt container and let the kiddo push pom poms into it.
  6. Pipe cleaners stuck into the holes of a colander
  7. Shake musical instruments
  8. Dance with silk scarves
  9. Play with rain shakers (or a secure container filled with a little rice)
  10. Crumple paper from the recycling bin
  11. Move a little paint around inside a sealed plastic storage bag
  12. Shake a partially filled water bottle
  13. Paint with yogurt (on their highchair!)
  14. Put plastic figures or animals on a bottle drying rack to explore the textures
  15. Put random, but interesting feeling, objects into a bin for them to explore

TIP: Some kids don’t love the idea of getting messy or touching various textures, so know that can be normal if that’s your child.

Kitchen Activities for One Year Olds

Cooking with toddlers is a perfect way to involve them in the activities of normal life, but also keep them busy and exploring. These are my favorite ways to have 1 year olds in the kitchen.

  1. Help fill and empty the dishwasher (my one year old likes to take the silverware in and out)
  2. Pressing the button on the salad spinner
  3. Peeling bananas: Cut them, peel on, into rounds. Slice a slit and let them remove the ring of peel.
  4. Peeling clementines: Start the peel and let them finish it.
  5. Kneading dough
  6. Cutting soft fruit like strawberries or bananas with a crinkle cutter
  7. Cutting hard cooked eggs with an egg slicer
  8. Stirring together simple recipes like Overnight Oats
  9. Practicing using a spoon
  10. Washing produce
  11. Washing hands
  12. Washing dishes
  13. Sweeping up crumbs with a toddler broom
  14. Help to put away the groceries
  15. Help to set out snacks
  16. Play with plastic containers
  17. Play with kitchen towels (peek a boo is fun here!)
  18. Assemble and disassemble freezer pop molds
  19. Play with pots and pans and spoons
  20. Play with a sponge and water
  21. Play with magnets on the fridge
  22. Play with cookie cutters
  23. Help make a smoothie (Let them add ingredients you hand them, then turn on the blender once you secure the lid. Unplug it until you’re ready for them to turn it on to avoid a mess!)
  24. Paint yogurt on graham crackers or bread
  25. Make Bread in a Bag

TIP: Find more easy kitchen activities for toddlers in my book Food Play.

kids-with-sidewalk-chalk-on-pantsOutside Activities for 1 Year Olds

Getting fresh air is one of the best ways I know to rest bad moods, to make the day more fun, and to tire those little bodies out for nap and bedtime! These simple outside activities for little kids will give you some ideas for things to do with the kids.

  1. Chasing bubbles
  2. Drawing with sidewalk chalk
  3. Going for a walk
  4. Going for a stroller walk
  5. Picking dandelions or wildflowers
  6. Playing catch
  7. Playing with a water table
  8. Playing in a baby pool
  9. Playing with a sensory bin with water
  10. Giving plastic toys a bath in a baby tub or bin
  11. Digging in the dirt with a shovel
  12. Playing in a sandbox
  13. Swinging on a swing
  14. Going down a baby slide
  15. Helping to water plants
  16. Helping to harvest plants
  17. Helping to wash garden veggies
  18. Sticking Magna Tiles to the garage door
  19. Sticking magnets to the garage door
  20. Washing the house/deck/patio with water and a brush

watercolors with toddler handArt Activities for 1 Year Olds

Doing arts and crafts with kids may or may not be your speed, so don’t worry about it if this sort of a mess stresses you out. If you’re game though, art can be so much fun—even with the most basic of craft supplies!

  1. Stamp Dot Markers
  2. Paint egg cartons
  3. Paint toilet paper rolls
  4. Paint with a mini roller
  5. Finger painting
  6. Stamp fingertips
  7. Feet painting on paint paper or a drop cloth (do this one outside!)
  8. Paint with washable paints in the bath tub
  9. Paint water colors on coffee filters
  10. Paint with flowers
  11. Trace hands to color
  12. Make oversize art on brown kraft paper together
  13. Make designs with tape
  14. Make designs with stickers
  15. Practice scribbling
  16. Play with Water Wow book
  17. Practice clapping to a steady musical beat
  18. Practice shaking instruments to a steady musical beat

TIP: Remember that they will likely make a mess, so protect surfaces and clothes (we like these Bumkins smocks) so you can relax while they play.


Image credit iStock

Best Tips for Activities and Projects with a One Year Old

Keeping younger toddlers entertained and happy is no easy feat, but a lot of it has to do with our expectations of what they’re capable of. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind when doing activities with your one year old.

  • Keep activities simple.
  • Assume short attention spans.
  • Try not to expect your kiddo to play independently all day long, but expect to do most of these together with short bursts of independent play.
  • Try not to start an activity when they’re tired.
  • Don’t force it—if they’re not interested, let it go.
  • Use thing you have around the house—1 year olds don’t need fancy supplies or systems!
  • Involve them in your usual routine to make the day more interesting and to teach them to help without really thinking about it.

TIP: Find my Master List of Free Kids Activities here.

I’d love to hear about your favorite activities to do with toddlers, so please add yours below in the comments!


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