17 Learning Activities for 2-Year-Olds: Teaching Toddlers Through Play

Play-based learning is the best way for your toddler to learn about themselves and their world.

17 Learning Activities for 2-Year-Olds: Teaching Toddlers Through Play

The world of your 2-year-old is full of exciting possibilities. They are developing quickly, and you will find them ready to dive into learning experiences. They are actively looking for ways to assert their independence and test their boundaries (and yours!).

Learning activities for 2-year-olds should look at their development holistically and engage them in new ways of thinking. Toddler learning activities are a fun way for you to connect with your child as you learn and grow together.

Play-Based Learning for Toddler Development

When your 2-year-old is playing, they are learning how the world works. Play ignites their curiosity and gets them to think creatively about simple tasks.

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning” – Diane Ackerman.

Here are some other ways that play is beneficial for development:

  • Practice life skills
  • Improves communication
  • Develops empathy
  • Encourages imagination
  • Allows for independence and autonomy
  • Fosters problem-solving skills

17 Learning Activities for Your 2-Year-Old

When it comes to educational activities for toddlers, you want to make them hands-on and fun. Learning should be joyful and creative. Fun activities can teach your child and keep them happily immersed in play.

Activities for Gross Motor Skills Development

toddler playing with silk

1. Play Silks and Dancing

There is something magical about watching a child lost in their own world. Play silks are a great way to encourage imaginative movement in little kids. 

Put on some music and let your little one move to the rhythm. This unstructured activity allows them to use any movements they want. The play silks help them move their bodies, become aware of themselves within a space, and embody different characters. 

Fun Tip: Try music that evokes different moods. Watch as your child adjusts their movements to the music.


  • Imagination
  • Free movement
  • Express emotion

2. Animal Imitation

What toddler doesn’t love pretend play? 

You can use animal cards, toy animals, or even recorded animal sounds for this activity. Help your child think about how each animal moves and then watch as they try to imitate that movement. They can include the sound the animal makes to really get into character.

Fun Tip: Do this activity with your child. Yes, it may seem silly, but they will love it. Play is how our kids communicate with us, and something special happens when we join them in their world.

  • Crossing the midline and gross motor skills
  • Builds core strength
  • Improves focus and attention

3. Mud Monster

Getting dirty is a great way to learn and a fun activity. Not only is mud a fantastic sensory experience, but it contains friendly bacteria that stimulate the release of serotonin . 

To create your mud monster, draw one on a wall with mud or build one around a hula hoop placed on the ground. Your toddler will then make mud balls and have to throw them into the mud monster’s mouth. Your 2-year-old is learning to throw overhand at this stage, and this is a fun activity to practice.

Fun Tip: Let your toddler help you make the mud. The process of mixing sand and water is a valuable learning opportunity.

  • Develops tactile skills
  • Strengthens throwing motion
  • It helps them identify their dominant arm

Activities that Develop Fine Motor Skills

toddlers playing with blocks

4. Building Blocks

Building blocks are a classic toddler activity that has a multitude of benefits. Simply place a bag of blocks on the floor and watch as your little one begins to create. At this age, your 2-year-old will be able to build a tower of 4-7 blocks, opening up a world of possibilities for them.

Fun Tip: Add other elements such as cars, animals, and wood planks. This will help your toddler play with the blocks in new and imaginative ways.

  • Problem-solving
  • Early math skills

5. Simple Tracing

Your 2-year-old might not be holding a pencil confidently, but they will enjoy simple tracing activities. They will help them develop tensile strength in their fingers and work on their fine motor skills.

Use simple shapes and lines with an easy-to-follow dot-to-dot pattern. A chunky pencil or marker will work best for your child’s inexperienced fingers.

Fun Tip: Start with sidewalk chalk to encourage large, free-flowing movements. Before starting with a pencil, try a Q-tip and paint to follow a series of dot patterns.

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Concentration
  • Crossing the midline

6. Paper Washing Line

Reaching the washing line outside might be tricky, but you can create a mini version indoors. All you need is a cardboard box, some twine, and two pieces of dowel rod. You can cut out clothing from cardboard and let your 2-year-old peg them onto the line.

Fun Tip: You can use clothes pegs to hang up art, count, color sort, and paint with. They are a versatile option for 2-year-old development activities. 

  • Improve pincer grasp
  • Motor accuracy
  • Hand preference

7. Playdough Jars

Play dough is fantastic for sensory play and fine motor skills development. Put playdough and loose parts into different jars with the lids on. Then let your toddler open the jars and empty the contents. Opening the jars is good fine motor practice and your toddler is also at a stage where they love to empty containers.

Fun Tip: Ask your toddler to sort the items and place them back into the jars at the end of the activity. 

  • Strengthens fingers, hands, and wrists
  • Improves concentration

Activities for Language Development

picture book and read aloud

8. Picture Books

Picture books are essential in child development, particularly for emergent language. Reading picture books allows you to foster connection with your toddler while demonstrating a love of reading. Your 2-year-old will also learn to connect the words to the pictures. This will help them understand their meaning better.

Fun Tip: Play a game of ‘spot the x.’ You can help your child learn new words as they associate them with a picture.

  • Listening skills
  • Strengthen visual thinking skills
  • Encourage conversations

9. Mystery Bag

This is a versatile game that you can play with almost any object. Put a selection of things into a bag. Ask your toddler to reach into the bag and try and name an object they feel before pulling it out. This is a fun way to introduce new words to your child’s vocabulary.

Fun Tip: For an interesting variation of this game, draw the outline of your toddler’s body on a large piece of paper. Then ask them to point to and name their different body parts. 

  • New vocabulary
  • Improved tactile sense

10. Story Cubes

Story cubes have scenes/characters/objects depicted on them. Your toddler can choose the order of the cubes, and you can create a story together. This activity is excellent for teaching toddlers about creative thinking and future scenarios.

Fun Tip: Incorporate tower building into the process. Then start the story from the top of the tower and reverse it. This is a fun way to introduce the concepts of top and bottom while helping your toddler use their imagination.

  • Imaginative play

11. Nursery Rhymes

Nursery rhymes are great for teaching 2-year-olds about phonics and help with language development. Keep your rhymes simple and choose ones with repetitive verses.

Some great nursery rhymes for 2-year-olds are Incy Wincy Spider, Old MacDonald, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Humpty Dumpty, and Hickory Dickory Dock.

Try to incorporate rhymes that have corresponding movements. The car is also great for practicing nursery rhymes with your toddler.

  • Develop motor skills
  • Teach grammar
  • Introduce counting, colors, and shapes

Activities for Social/Emotional Development

emotion cards

12. Emotion Cards

2-year-olds are learning about themselves in relation to other children so talking about emotions is vital. Emotion cards work well as they show the picture that relates to a feeling. Start your day with the emotion cards and regularly bring them out. 

Fun Tip: Take a ‘sportscasting’ approach to toddler behavior. That means you observe and repeat the facts of the situation. This allows your toddler to feel and deal with the emotion for themselves.

  • Builds empathy
  • It helps them learn self-regulation and self-control
  • Emotional vocabulary development

13. Simon Says

2-year-olds are starting to copy the behavior they see around them. That makes Simon Says a fun and simple game to play. Your toddler is also becoming more aware of themselves, and Simon Says is a fun way to start teaching them about the parts of their body.

Fun Tip: Use the anatomical names for body parts. Children must know the real names as they become aware of themselves and their bodies.

  • Developing body awareness
  • Sequencing Skills
  • Following instructions

14. Kitchen Time

Your 2-year-old is becoming more independent, and you may find them increasingly defiant. Spending time in the kitchen is a great way to help them feel empowered and capable.

Simple cookies, scrambled eggs, and banana muffins are easy recipes that your 2-year-old can make with you.

Fun Tip: Involve them in the whole process by allowing them to crack, mash, and scoop but also wash up.

  • Basic math skills
  • Builds independence
  • Boosts confidence

Activities for Cognitive Development

puppet play for toddlers

15. Puppet Play

Puppet play is an amazing developmental tool for toddlers. Your 2-year-old is starting to engage in make-believe play and new language. Puppets encourage creativity, imagination, and new vocabulary. It also helps develop social skills.

Fun tip: You don’t need fancy puppets. Toddlers love craft activities, so why not make your own out of socks? You know, the ones that make it out of the dryer without a partner?

  • Motor skills
  • Builds self-confidence

16. Treasure Hunt

A treasure hunt is a versatile learning experience that you can use repeatedly. For example, you can have a color hunt where your toddler has to find items in the house that are a specific color. Or you can stick shapes around the house and ask them to find and sort them.

Fun Tip: Take this activity outside for a diverse sensory experience with different textures.

  • Color identification

17. Sorting Basket

Sorting baskets are another fun matching game to help your toddler learn colors, numbers, shapes, and sizes. You can put almost anything in a sorting basket, from leaves and stones to blocks and fabric scraps.

Fun Tip: Mix up textures and color shades to challenge your toddler.

  • Develops reasoning and thinking skills
  • Encourage categorizing
  • Early literacy and numeracy skills

Teaching Your Toddler Through Play

Play-based learning opportunities are the best activities to get your toddler engaged and excited. They allow you to introduce complex concepts through simple play that your 2-year-old can easily understand.

Watching your little one engage with the world around them is a magical time, so get on their level and get playing.

Free, trusted resources for baby’s development.

Track important milestones, play games based on age, and learn about important development topics to make sure baby stays on track!

  • About Pathways.org

Resources By Age

  • 10-12 Months
  • 13-18 Months
  • 19-24 Months

19-24 Months Games

  • Milestones & Abilities
  • Help Meeting Milestones

All Aboard for Playtime!

It’s never too early to start playing games to help your child reach their sensory, communication, and motor milestones.

Games to Play

  • Treasure Chest: Give your toddler their own drawer or box of "treasures." These can be new toys from the dollar section or household objects they would find interesting. Let them pick a toy to play with. Helps baby use motor skills and different senses to touch, listen to, and pick up toys.
  • Ziploc Painting: For a super easy cleanup, put some paint in a Ziploc bag - make sure it’s sealed and taped closed, then give it to your toddler. As they squish and poke the bag, the paint will move around in different and interesting ways. Helps baby’s vision and motor skills.
  • Dancing: Have a dance party with your toddler. Put on some upbeat music and dance around the house or outside. Help baby's coordination, balance, and increases creativity.
  • Exploring ‘Guitar’: Put a few rubber bands of different sizes around a thin box to create a guitar. Let your toddler use their fingers to strum the rubber bands and make different sounds. It helps your toddler learn to use just one finger and strum a specific band. Helps with fine motor, listening, and visual skills.
  • Dining Table Tent: Create a new living space underneath a dining room table. Add some pillows and their favorite toys to make it like their own house. Helps baby build play skills.
  • Contact Paper: Tape some contact paper (sticky side out) to your wall or window. Give your toddler a few different objects like cotton balls that they can use to throw or place onto the contact paper and watch it stick. Helps baby's sensory development and fine motor skills.
  • Peeling Tape: Put masking tape or stickers down on a table and have your toddler try to peel it off. Try to get them to only use the index finger and thumb to pick and peel the tape off the table. Help out by peeling up a small edge to start it off! Helps your toddler build fine motor and visual skills, and sense of touch.
  • You’ve Got Mail: Make a little slit in a box to make it your toddler’s personal mailbox. Then put in junk mail that you get and let them tear it open. Helps baby build fine motor skills by using fingers to pinch and grab items.
  • Discovery Bottles: Get a small water bottle and fill it with different objects. Let your toddler shake it around and discover glitter, pebbles, and other objects as they turn it. Make sure the bottle is securely sealed and filled with age appropriate items. Helps baby develop visual skills and arm strength.
  • Food Prints: Food is not just for eating, you can paint with it too! Cut an apple in half and use it as a stamp. Your toddler can also use carrots to roll around in the paint. Helps baby develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
  • Pom Pom Push: Cut holes into a lid on a box and have your toddler push pom poms or cotton balls through the holes. Different sized holes can create new challenges. Some they can drop, others they will have to push through. *Supervise baby during this activity. Helps to develop fine motor and visual skills, and sense of touch.
  • Rampin’ Up: Create a ramp. Let your toddler roll different objects down it to learn about how gravity works. Helps baby develop ability to use eyes to track objects and taking turns (if with peers).
  • Search Out: Get brightly colored objects, like bouncy balls, and place them around the living room. Don’t make them too hard to find though. Let your toddler walk around and try to find them. Your toddler can count them out as they find them. Helps baby develop visual and language skills.
  • Build Up, Knock Down: Your toddler may be used to toys that click into place as you build them up. This time, use regular wooden blocks to build a tall tower and let them knock it down. Helps baby build visual and fine motor skills, and is a good way for practicing using two hands together.
  • Sidewalk Paint/Chalk: Sidewalk chalk is a fun reason to get outside and get a little messy without a big cleanup. Drawing scribbles on the sidewalk or driveway is a chance for your toddler to get creative and have fun. Helps baby builds fine motor, visual, and sensory (touch) skills.
  • Melting Ice: Put water with drops of food coloring in an ice tray and freeze them. Let your toddler put the ice into a bin of room temperature water. The ice will melt and the color will spread out. Helps baby's fine motor and visual skills, and sense of touch.
  • Read with Sound Effects: Bring new life to stories by making sound effects. Someone’s stamping their feet in the story? Pound your feet on the floor. A wolf is howling? Give it your best howl. Helps baby develop language skills and keeps their attention.
  • Eye Dropper Art: Put paint into an eye dropper and let your toddler squeeze the top to make the paint come out and create a new kind of artwork. This may take practice so don't get discouraged if your little one can't do this right away. Helps baby develop fine motor, sensory motor, and visual skills.
  • Chasing Your Toddler: Chase your toddler around the room saying “I’m going to get you!” Let the anticipation of catching them build until you eventually catch them. Helps baby develop gross motor skills, balance, and coordination.
  • Tossing: Let your toddler throw balls into a laundry basket. Use different sized balls with varying levels of bounce to help them learn the proper amount of force to use while tossing. Helps baby develop visual-motor and body awareness skills.
  • Round Up the Balls: Get outside and put different sized balls on the ground. Set down a hula hoop and have your toddler gather the balls and put them inside the hoop. Helps baby use visual, gross motor, and communication skills, sense of touch, and improve ability to follow directions.
  • Play Chef: Play chef and have your toddler fill measuring cups with cheerios. Then let them serve you the snack. They won't understand the different measurements, but scooping and dumping will be fun. Helps baby develop executive function, fine motor, and play skills.
  • Bowling: Set up empty water bottles to make bowling pins. Show your toddler how to roll the ball to knock down the pins. Helps baby build hand-eye coordination and practice balance.
  • Puzzles: Get a simple shape puzzles made of foam or wood for your toddler to complete. They'll have fun putting together the puzzle and finding a picture of their favorite characters at the end. Helps baby develop visual and fine motor skills.
  • Playing with Play Dough and Clay: Giving your toddler play dough or clay to play with is a fun (and easy cleanup!) activity. Pushing the play dough or clay into different sized containers and then taking it out can also be fun. Helps baby's fine motor skills and sense of touch.
  • Bubble Wrap: Give your toddler bubble wrap and let them pop all the bubbles. Have them try popping them with only their index finger and thumb. Helps baby develop fine motor, auditory , and visual skills.
  • Imitate New Words: Say some new words and let your toddler imitate you, trying to repeat what you said. Make a game out of it. Every time they say a word clap, cheer, and repeat the word back. Helps with copying, expressive language, eye contact, and play.
  • DIY Book: Make a do-it-yourself book by gluing different textures onto some pages. Add feathers, buttons, or sandpaper, to name a few, so your toddler can feel the different between rough and smooth, and hard and soft. Helps baby develop sense of touch and play skills.
  • Playing with Shaving Cream: Let your toddler smear shaving cream on the window. Start with a small area and then let them spread it along the window, having them draw squiggles in the cream with their fingers. Helps baby explore their sense of touch.
  • Noodle Fun: Get pasta with large holes in it and let your toddler string thread through the pasta to make a noodle necklace. Your toddler can also paint the pasta to make it more colorful and fun. Helps baby develop fine motor skills.
  • Shape Sorting: Make circles, squares, and triangles and set two of each down on the floor. Have your toddler match up the shapes. You can also put down pictures of animals and have your child match a toy version of the animal to the picture. Helps baby builds cognitive and visual skills.
  • Tube Ball: Tape cardboard tubes (from a paper towel roll) to the wall so they connect at different angles. Give your toddler a ball and let them drop the ball down the tube, waiting for it to come out the bottom. Helps baby develop visual-motor and fine motor skills.
  • Button Drop: Cut holes into a lid on a box and have your toddler slide old buttons through the holes while you supervise them. Making different sized holes can create different challenges for your toddler. Helps baby develop fine motor skills.
  • Laundry Sort: When you are folding laundry, let your toddler help you. As you fold, ask your child to bring you different articles of clothing. Say "please bring me a sock?" Helps baby learn to follow directions.
  • Kitchen Helper: Let your child help you out in the kitchen. Give them spoons or spatulas to hold and let them help you mix and stir ingredients. They might make a little bit of a mess so you may have to guide their hands a bit. Helps baby develop fine motor skills.
  • Costume Change: Start a costume bin. Fill it with clothes from past decades, old Halloween costumes, and goofy finds from thrift stores. When your little one is looking for something fun to do, pull out the costume bin and let them step into character! Helps baby develop play skills and practice dressing and undressing.
  • Freeze Dance: Have a dance party with your little one. Tell them once the music stops, they have to freeze in place! When it starts, they can dance again. Helps with following instructions and gross motor skills.
  • Seek the Unique: Tell your child the meaning of unique (something that’s not like anything else). Grab a group of items and ask your child to identify which one is "unique". For example, grab all green blocks and one red block. Or items made of metal and one made of paper. Helps with learning new words and sensory skills.
  • Make Your Own Puzzle: Print out a picture of an item your child would like. Cut it into large pieces (for a standard 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, aim for about 9 pieces). Ask your child to try and put the picture together! Helps with sensory and life skills.
  • Shadow Show: Turn the lights off and grab a flashlight (or two!). Show your child how they can cast a shadow using their hands or body in front of the flashlight. Challenge them to tell a story using shadows! Helps with fine motor skills, communication skills, and working memory.
  • Sand Search: Hide a toy in a bucket of sand or sandbox. Have your child search for it. For an extra challenge, have them search with their eyes closed-- they can only find it by feeling! Helps with sensory skills.
  • Egg Race: If using real eggs, do this outside! Put an egg (real or plastic) on a spoon, and have your child walk a specified distance. Try to have them go as fast as they can without breaking the egg! Helps with motor skills, balance, and hand-eye coordination.
  • Do This Dance: Turn on some music and get dancing! As you dance, give your toddler instructions related to their body parts, such as "shake your arm" or "touch your head". Helps with motor skills, body awareness, and following instructions.
  • Toy Hunt: Hide your little one's favorite toys around the house and have them search for them! You can give them clues of where their toys might be at. Helps with life skills like problem solving and working memory.
  • Toy Talk: Set up a little tea party or snack session for your child with their favorite stuffed animals. Ask them questions about their toys and see if they can start conversations with them. Helps with social-emotional skills, language skills, creativity, and imaginative play.
  • Body Trace: Using a large piece of craft paper and a writing utensil, have your child lay on the paper and trace an outline of their body. Helps with self-control and patience, identifying body parts.
  • Block Balance: Using a toy block set, have your child see how many blocks they can stack on top of each other before they fall over. Have them count each block as they place them, and if they need help, remind them to be delicate with the blocks as they place them. Helps with balance, body awareness, counting, and fine motor skills.
  • Catch and Release: Play a game of catch in the yard by tossing your child a ball and having them toss it back to you. Change up the game by giving them different size balls to toss or various instructions when throwing the ball (i.e. throw as slow as you can, throw as fast as you can, etc.). Helps with fine and gross motor skills, understanding and following directions, and body awareness.
  • Spray Bottle Tie Dye: Dye water with food coloring and put it in a spray bottle. Then take a white t-shirt (or whatever you want to dye), put it in the grass or on a tarp, and let your child spray the shirt to dye it! Helps with fine motor skills and sensory skills.
  • Chalk Walk: On a sidewalk or driveway, create squares of different colors using sidewalk chalk. Instruct your child to walk to different colors "go to the red square" or give them a series of squares to remember "go to the red square, then the blue square, then the yellow square". Helps with motor skills and balance.
  • Hop To It: Draw a path with sidewalk chalk and challenge you child to hop along the path! You can add numbers in the path and tell them to jump that many times (for example, if the square says 3, they have to jump 3 times when they land on it). Helps with motor skills, following directions, and counting.
  • Balloon Volley: Using a balloon filled with air (not helium), challenge your child to keep the balloon off the ground for as long as they can using their hands and feet. Helps with gross motor skills, body awareness, and balance.
  • Pillow Path: Challenge your child to walk across the house using a path only made of pillows. You can use as few as 2 pillows, and they will have to pick up the pillow behind them and put it in front of them with each step. Helps with problem solving, motor skills, and balance.
  • Like an Animal: Ask your child to walk and make sounds like an animal! For example, ask them to moo like a cow, slither like a snake, or gallop like a horse. Helps with language skills and working memory.
  • Warmer, Colder: Hide an item and have your child search for it. As they get closer, tell them they are warmer; as they get farther, tell them they are colder. Helps with communication skills and life skills like working memory and problem solving.
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11 Fun Learning Activities for 1-Year-Olds

These indoor activities are designed to boost your 1-year-old's skills and keep them entertained at the same time.

With their newfound ability to walk and constantly improving language skills , your 1-year-old is developing at a staggering rate. That means they'll need more entertaining—and you’ll need to find some more activities perfect for 1-year-olds.

"Between 12 months and 2 years, kids are starting to do things on their own, seeing cause and effect, and actively engaging with others in their environment," says Robert Myers, Ph.D., a child and adolescent psychologist, founder of the Child Development Institute, and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.

And while toddlers will do plenty of exploring on their own, caregivers getting involved is essential to a 1-year-old's development. In fact, "parents stimulating them, interacting with them, teaching them things, and exposing them to age-appropriate challenges and experiences" encourages exploration and interaction, explains Dr. Myers.

But you may be wondering, "How do I entertain my 1-year-old at home?"

The good news is there's no need to pull out a mountain of toys with all the bells and whistles; simple activities work just as well. "I can sit down with a child with one block and come up with 100 different activities because it's all about being playful and interacting with them ," explains Roni Cohen Leiderman, Ph.D., dean of the Mailman Segal Center for Human Development at Nova Southeastern University and co-author of Let's Play and Learn Together .

Not sure where to start? We rounded up several fun learning activities for 1-year-olds at home.

Simple Activities for 1-Year-Olds

Make music using percussion instruments like rattles, spoons, pots and pans, bells, cymbals, and drums. "Find fun tunes to play that have a rousing beat," suggests Dr. Myers. "Play along with them as well as encourage them to play by themselves."

What your child will learn: Coordination, listening skills, and musical exploration

Phone a friend

Hand a phone to your child, and keep one for yourself. Pretend to make calls, and hold conversations with each other or imaginary people. Use funny voices, and create silly characters on the other line. Some play telephones also allow you to record your and your child's voices and play them back, which can enhance the fun.

What your child will learn: Language and social development

Count fingers and toes

Toddlers love to count their fingers and toes, so show your little one how to touch each digit only once as you count out loud. Don't fret if your kid counts out of order, Dr. Leiderman says. "Kids counting in order is not important," she says. "Just like you're giving them new words, numbers are part of life . Use them in context to count toes or objects, so they can eventually learn the concepts of numbers."

For different variations of this learning activity for 1-year-olds, count the stairs as you go up and down, count while you're waiting for the light to turn green, and count the bubbles floating in the air.

What your child will learn: Basic number skills and one-on-one correspondence skills

Sensory Activities for 1-Year-Olds

Use water and sand.

Once your child reaches 18 months, fill a large tub with water or sand, and give them free (supervised) rein to dig, pour, scoop, and more. "When you're playing with them, talk and sing along," says Dr. Myers. "Encourage them to copy what you're doing, and then try to copy what they're doing." (Of course, never leave your child unattended around water.) This fun activity for 1-year-olds is especially helpful for the development of fine motor skills .

What your child will learn: Creative play, fine motor skills, tactile stimulation, and social development

Walk on contact paper

Cut a piece of clear contact paper at least 2 feet long. Remove the backing and tape the contact paper, sticky side up, to the floor or carpeting. Then, let your child have fun running, jumping, dancing, or just standing on the paper while wiggling their toes on the sticky surface.

"This is a fresh approach to learning about bodies," Dr. Leiderman explains. "Very often, we as parents think we have to have rules for games and do things in order. Sticky paper is just a fun free-for-all." Parents can also put small toys on the sticky surface and let toddlers try to pick them up.

What your child will learn: Sensory awareness, muscle strength, and body awareness

Creative Activities for 1-Year-Olds

Create a fort from a cardboard box, play tunnel, or playhouse. Include an entrance and an exit, and encourage your child to go in and out. (You might need to show them at first.) Boost the entertainment factor with some pretend play , like knocking on the door or ringing the doorbell, and asking if anyone is home, Dr. Myers suggests.

What your child will learn: Social skills, gross motor skills, and exploring their environment

Change their reflection

Put a dot of red lipstick on your toddler's face, and distract them for a few minutes before putting them in front of a mirror. If your child reacts to their image by touching their nose or trying to wipe off the mark, it indicates they realize there's something out of the ordinary in their reflection.

"Very young children don't have a sense of self, but at this age, it's clear to them who they are when they look in the mirror," Dr. Leiderman says. But don't worry if they don't react yet—they will soon!

What your child will learn: Self-awareness and identity

Write on crumbs

Spread rice cereal or crumbled crackers on a cookie sheet, and show your 1-year-old how to "write" in the crumbs with their fingers.

"This gives children the opportunity to imitate the adults and older siblings in their lives, which is a major meaningful activity of early childhood," says Rachel Coley, occupational therapist, author of Simple Play: Easy Fun For Babies , and founder of CanDo Kiddo .

What your child will learn: Early handwriting skills and understanding cause and effect

Talk through a tube

Talk through a cardboard tube, and see how your child responds to the change in your normal speaking voice. Let them take a turn to see what sounds they can make. "Kids this age love to play with language, and this activity gives them an opportunity to practice new and novel sounds," Dr. Leiderman says. "Language is really about imitating sounds. Babbling turns into real words , which turns into a sense of humor."

What your child will learn: Auditory discrimination and turn taking

Active Activities for 1-Year-Olds

Fetch objects.

Send your child on different "errands" around the house, asking them to get their shoes, bring you the ball, or find their cup. Besides practicing receptive language skills by following directions, this learning activity for 1-year-olds creates a sense of independence and accomplishment.

What your child will learn: Understanding directions and memory skills

Crawl through tunnels

Divide puzzle pieces or parts of a toy set into two piles, placing a pile at either end of a play tunnel so your child has to "commute" back and forth through the tunnel to complete their task.

What your child will learn: Sustained attention, sensory processing, and learning how to complete multi-step sequences

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“is your kid musical do they love to dance around and sing kneebouncers is filled with catchy and memorable songs that will even get stuck in your head. this program offers educational games for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. so, you can stick with the same program even after your little one ages out of their terrible twos and threes., play with purpose.

For kids, play is their job – and their job is to play. This natural instinct is how they learn. Our games and videos reinforce what your children are already learning. So let them play and know that they’re building their confidence, while learning foundational skills.

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KneeBouncers is play with purpose. Our interactive online games and videos are designed to engage, encourage, entertain and educate babies, toddlers and preschoolers. We keep our content age-appropriate, and l earning fun.

KneeBouncers employs a play-based developmental learning strategy to create our games. Specifically, we focus on games that spark kids’ curiosity and creativity , exploration of the world , social understanding , communication skills and movement . Our play-based developmental strategies support concrete learning objectives, including: mathematical concepts , science , language and literacy , social and emotional development , arts and music and social studies .

We strive to create age-appropriate engaging games that promote playing with purpose. Games increase in complexity as a child grows, allowing us to provide learning fun for babies through preschool students.

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A whole lotta fun for the itty bitty ones.

KneeBouncers.com , a website full of engaging toddler games  and  baby games online. Featuring a collection of fun, interactive online games designed specifically for babies ,  toddlers , and  preschool kids.  

KneeBouncers’ gang of characters will delight your child as they explore the interactive online games that  parents, daycare and preschool teachers have embraced for their fun, simplicity, and age appropriateness. These toddler games are easy to play and your preschool kids can enjoy playing on their own. The goal with all of our interactive games is to make learning more enjoyable for your baby, toddler, and preschooler.  

Download the coloring sheets and continue the fun and learning offline. They’re a great way to learn new skills, or reinforce skills that your little one is learning. 

Check out every episode of “The KneeBouncers’ Show” – ad free! And sing-along with Kiki and her KneeBouncer friends in all the “Kiki’s Music Time” episodes! From classic children songs to our original songs – you’ll kids will be singing and dancing!

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You learn by doing and repeating. Once your child is introduced to a new concept, it’s important for them to practice and repeat the new skill. And we make the process fun for them!

Cause and effect games are designed as tapping games that respond to the touch of the keyboard or screen. These simple baby games build confidence and encourage further exploration. 

Matching games are designed to challenge your little ones memory skills. Zoo and farm animals to shapes , colors, letters , and numbers matching games will keep your child’s memory sharp. (Yours too!)

KneeBouncers was created to instill a love of learning in babies, toddlers, preschoolers and everyone in your family. We’ve created lots of original baby games , online games for toddlers , preschool games , coloring pages , memory games , keypress games , tap games , point and click games , original animated videos , sing-along songs , nursery rhyme videos , original children songs , and so much more! 

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Get the refrigerator cleared and ready download coloring sheets from your favorite games and reinforce the lesson, more love to share..., love love love.

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To my fellow parents and educators,

From one parent to another, and as the creator of KneeBouncers.com, I want you to know that our platform is more than just another website – it’s a labor of love dedicated to early learning and fun.

It started from a personal need – to create a space where little ones could play games without the fuss of a mouse. Our small haven has now grown to include over 100 ad-free, engaging games, videos, and worksheets. We believe that children learn best when they’re having fun, and that’s exactly what we’re here to provide.

By choosing us, you’re not just opting for a safe, educational journey for your child, you’re also supporting a family-owned small business. We’re still a small, passionate team at KneeBouncers, and your trust in us means more than you can imagine. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your child’s formative years.

Thanks – and keep on KneeBouncin’!

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Robinson family

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20+ Best Fun Learning Activities for 2-Year-Olds

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7 Educational Activities for 2 Year Olds

7 developmental activities for 2 year olds, 8 fun activities for 2 year olds with no prep, no mess, get started now.

We know that parenting a toddler can be both rewarding and challenging, so we’ve put together a list of activities to help your little one learn and grow while having lots of fun. Welcome to our guide of 20+ fun and learning activities for 2 year olds!

From simple crafts and games that help with fine motor skills to more active pursuits that will get your toddler moving, there’s something here for everyone. And the best part is that most of these activities can be done using things you already have around the house, so there is no need to go out and buy anything special.

We hope you enjoy trying out these activities with your toddler and that they help make your days a little bit brighter.

1. Color Sorting

Set of crayons sorted by color arranged in a circle

What you’ll need:  Construction paper in different colors, crayons, markers, or paint

What to do:  Cut out different shapes from each color of construction paper. Talk about the different colors with your toddler as they sort the shapes. You can also have them trace the shapes with crayons, markers, or paint.

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What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting color recognition and fine motor skills. Toddlers also learn about shapes as they play.

2. Letter Matching

What you’ll need:  Construction paper, scissors, crayons, markers, or paint

What to do:  Cut out different letters from construction paper. Talk about the different letters with your toddler as they match them up. You can also have them trace the letters with crayons, markers, or paint.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting letter recognition and fine motor skills. Learning letters early can also help your toddler with reading and writing later on.

3. Pattern Matching

What to do:  Cut out different patterns from construction paper. Talk about the different patterns with your toddler as they match them up. You can also have them trace the patterns with crayons, markers, or paint.

Some patterns that toddlers can work with include stripes, polka dots, and zigzags.

What kids will learn:  This activity promotes pattern recognition and fine motor skills. It also helps toddlers develop their problem-solving skills.

4. Play Math and Reading Games Online

What you’ll need: A computer with internet access

What to do: Many great math and reading games for toddlers are available online. Spend some time playing these games with your toddler to help them learn new skills. Ensure that children aren’t spending too much time looking at screens. For toddlers, 20–30 minutes is enough screen time.

What kids will learn: This activity encourages children to improve their math and reading skills. Toddlers also learn about computer use and basic game skills.

5. Put Together a Simple Toy Train Set

Wooden toy train on a shelf

What you’ll need: A toy train set, such as the Thomas the Tank Engine Wooden Railway Starter Set.

What to do:  Let your toddler help you put together a simple toy train set. They can connect the track pieces, place the trains on the tracks, and press the buttons to make them go.

What kids will learn:  This activity promotes problem-solving, fine motor skills, and hand–eye coordination. Toddlers also learn about cause and effect as they play.

6. Paint With Watercolors

What you’ll need: Watercolors, paintbrushes, water, and paper.

What to do:  This is a classic activity that toddlers will love! They can experiment with mixing the colors, painting different strokes, and adding water to create different effects.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting art and creativity. Toddlers also learn about colors and mixing different shades.

7. Talk to Your Baby

What you’ll need:  Nothing!

What to do:  One of the best activities for 2 year olds, this is a great way to promote language development. Talk to your toddler about anything and everything. Describe what you’re doing, such as “I’m making lunch.” or “I’m putting on my shoes.” You can also ask them questions and encourage them to answer.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting language development. Toddlers also learn about communication and conversation.

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1. Trace the Body

W hat you’ll need:  Paper, a pencil, and some crayons or markers

What to do:  Help your toddler trace their body on a piece of paper. Then, they can decorate it however they like! This is a great way to encourage creativity and self-expression.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting art and creativity. Toddlers also learn about their own bodies and how to use different art supplies.

2. Get Dressed

What you’ll need:  Some clothes, shoes, and a mirror.

What to do:  One of the most important activities for 2 year olds is to learn how to get dressed independently. You can start with simple clothing items, such as a shirt or pants. Show them how to wear clothing and then let them try it themselves. As they get better at dressing themselves, you can add more items, such as shoes, socks, and jackets.

This is a great activity to do when you are vacationing with the family as you can afford the time and patience it needs to help your kids learn how to button their shirts or tie their shoes correctly.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting fine motor skills and independence. Toddlers also learn about different types of clothing and how to put them on.

3. Put Toys Away

What you’ll need:  A toy box or bin and some toys.

What to do:  Show them how to put the toys away in the toy box or bin. As they get better at this, you can add more toys or make it a game by timing them to see how fast they can put the toys away.

What kids will learn:  This is a great activity for teaching toddlers about organization and responsibility. It is also a good way to promote problem-solving skills. Toddlers thus learn about cleaning up.

4. Clap to the Beat

What you’ll need:  Some music or you can clap your hands yourself

What to do:  Help your toddler clap their hands to the beat of the music. As they get better at this, you can add other body parts, such as their feet or head.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting music and rhythm skills. Toddlers also learn about following directions.

5. Read to Your 2 Year Old

What you’ll need: Any good picture books, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Cat in the Hat .

What to do:  This activity is great for promoting literacy skills. Sit down with your toddler and read one of their favorite books . As they get better at this, you can start asking them questions about the story or having them point out different objects in the book.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting literacy skills. Studies show that early exposure to reading is linked with higher reading achievement later in life. Toddlers also learn about communication and conversation.

6. Imitate Animal Sounds

What you’ll need:  A video or audio recording of animal sounds, or you can make the sounds yourself.

What to do:  This activity is great for promoting listening skills. Help your toddler identify different animal sounds. You can play a recording of the sounds or make them yourself. As they get better at this, you can start asking them questions about the animals, such as “Where does a lion live?” or “What does a cow eat?”

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting listening skills. Toddlers also learn about animals, their sounds, and maybe their habitats.

7. Play Kitchen Assistant

What you’ll need: A play kitchen, some pots and pans, and some plastic food

What to do:  Show your toddler how to pretend to cook in the play kitchen. Let them help you stir the pots and pans or cut up the plastic food. As they get better at this, you can start asking them to make specific dishes.

Some 2 year old development activities that can be done in a real kitchen include; helping to pour ingredients into a bowl, using a child-safe knife to help cut soft foods, or helping to stir—all with adult supervision!

What kids will learn: This activity is great for promoting imaginative play. Toddlers also learn about cooking and following directions.

Toddler running through a park

1. Pillow Roller Coasters

What you’ll need:  Pillows, blankets, and a lot of space on the floor.

What to do:  Create a pillow roller coaster for your toddler to ride. They will love going up and down the hill. As they get better at this, you can start asking them to go faster or slower.

You could create a smaller pillow road for their toy vehicles. Children can hold a race with their toy cars and make them go up and down the road.

Remote-controlled tanks or any other remote-controlled toy can also be used for this activity.

After your 2-year-old is done playing with the pillow roller coaster, you can just put the pillows, blankets, and toy cars away—no mess to clean up!

What kids will learn:

This activity is great for promoting gross motor skills. Toddlers will also learn about ramps and the energy needed to go up and down the slopes. This basic experiential learning can help them in their future physics classes.

2. Rescue Animals (from zip-lock bags)

Baby playing with toy animals

What you’ll need: Clear zip-lock bags and small plastic animals.

What to do:  Put their animals in clear zip-lock bags. Now ask them to help the animals get out by using their hands or opening the zip.

You can say, “I see the lion is roaring. It wants to come out. Can you help him?”

You can also put different kinds of objects in the zip-lock bags, like fruits, vegetables, leaves, etc. This will help your toddler learn about different textures and shapes.

After they are done playing with this activity, you can store animals and zip-lock bags separately or throw them in the toy box just as they are.

What kids will learn:  Such games and 2 year old activities help kids learn about animal names, sounds, and textures. It also helps them develop their fine motor skills.

3. Balloon Pop

What you’ll need:  Balloons and a sharp object (like a pin or a needle).

What to do:  Help your toddler blow up the balloon and then let them pop it with the sharp object. Be sure to supervise them closely so that they don’t hurt themselves.

Your toddler will have a blast popping the balloons. The toddlers love the loud noise of the balloons popping and the feeling of popping them.

This activity can get a little messy since the balloon bits will be scattered around. But, it is easy to clean up—gather all the pieces and throw them away.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting gross motor skills and hand–eye coordination. Toddlers will also learn about cause and effect as they see that their actions (popping the balloon) result in the desired outcome (the balloon makes a loud noise and pops).

4. Origami for Toddlers

Penguin made of origami paper

What you’ll need:  Square pieces of colored paper

What to do: Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. There are many simple origami shapes that even toddlers can make.

You can start with something simple like a paper airplane or a boat. Just fold the paper in half and then in half again. Then, help your toddler make the folds to create the shape. Once they get the hang of it, they’ll be able to do it on their own.

We all know 2-year-olds love to display their creations, so be sure to have a spot ready to showcase their origami masterpieces.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting fine motor skills and concentration. Toddlers will also learn about following instructions and different shapes.

5. Magnetic Letters

Magnetic letters on a whiteboard

What you’ll need:  Magnetic letters (you can find these at your local dollar store or online) and a metal surface

What to do: Stick the magnetic letters on the fridge or any other metal surface. Then, help your toddler spell out words with the letters. You can start with simple three-letter words and then move on to more difficult words.

You can even use these magnetic letters to offer clues to your toddler during a treasure hunt or pass on messages like a detective.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting literacy skills and creativity. Toddlers will also learn about the alphabet, spelling, and simple words.

6. Decorating with Clothes Pegs

Dried flowers hung on a string with wooden clothes pegs

What you’ll need:  Clothes pegs and containers or surfaces to decorate

What to do: Accept it: Painting with your baby can be a messy affair. Clothes pegs allow you to bring a pop of color and beautiful works of art together. And, with this method, you don’t have to worry about paint stains.

Just let your toddler put clothes pegs around the containers or surfaces. You can even use them to create patterns or shapes.

If you want, you can paint the clothes pegs before your toddler starts decorating or buy cheap plastic clothes pegs in different colors. This will add an extra layer of color and fun to the activity.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting creativity and imagination early in children. They will learn that anything can be turned into a work of art with a little bit of creativity.

7. Transfer Books and Toys From One Box to Another

What you’ll need:  Two cardboard boxes with lids and some toys or books

What to do: You will be surprised how much a toddler loves to help you do a chore and win compliments and hugs from you. It is a great way to keep them occupied while you’re busy with other things.

To set up, put some toys or books in one box and then close the lid. Then, have your toddler transfer the items into the other box. You can even make it a race to see who can transfer the most items in a minute.

You can easily make this a sorting and organizing activity, asking them to sort books, toys, or other objects by colors, shapes, or sizes.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting fine motor skills and concentration in toddlers. It is also a good opportunity for parents to inculcate a sense of responsibility and ownership in their toddlers and build their confidence.

8. Play with Kinetic Sand

W hat you’ll need:  Kinetic sand and some plastic toys

What to do: If you haven’t played with kinetic sand before, you’re in for a treat. It’s a type of sand that’s moldable and easy to shape. And it’s also very therapeutic to play with.

Let your toddler explore the sand and mold it into different shapes. You can even use the sand to make patterns or write words. If you want, you can add some plastic toys to the mix and see how your toddler plays with them.

And it does not create any mess! You can easily store the sand in a container when you’re done playing.

What kids will learn:  This activity is great for promoting creativity and imagination in toddlers. They will also learn about different textures and how they can be manipulated.

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Learning activities for 2 year olds must be creative, hands-on, and FUN! Parents must realize that a young child’s attention span can be short. So, the activities must be structured to maintain their interest, even outdoor activities for 2 year olds must be engaging and interesting. The key is to keep it short and sweet.

Do you need some “you” time? Engage your toddlers in one of the fun activities for 2 year olds mentioned above and take that five-minute break. These activities will not only occupy your toddler but also help their overall development.

Here are more online educational resources for kids that will help with their learning experience and make them smarter.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to decide which activity is age-appropriate for 2 year olds.

Most two-year-olds can start with sorting shapes and colors, finding things hidden under objects, and doing simple puzzles. They may complete sentences in books they read regularly, follow two-step instructions, and love make-believe games. Activities built around developmental milestones for toddlers can help them progress to the next level.

What are some engaging indoor activities for two year olds that require few or no equipment?

Here are some indoor activities for 2 year olds that don’t require much equipment, if at all:

  • transferring books and toys from one box to another
  • sorting objects by colors, shapes, or sizes, 
  • playing with kinetic sand or clay,
  • playing online learning games .

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100+ No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

Mandisa Watts

  • Preschooler

UPDATED: 2023 Looking for creative activities to keep 1 year-olds engaged and stimulated but don’t want to spend hours preparing? Check out our list of no-prep and low-prep creative activities for 1-year-olds!

100+ No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

Activities to Keep 1 Year Olds Busy

Are you a parent or caregiver looking for fun and engaging activities to do with your one-year-old? As much as we love spending time with our little ones, it can be challenging to come up with new ideas and activities to keep them entertained and stimulated. The good news is that you don’t need to spend hours preparing elaborate activities – there are plenty of low-prep and no-prep ideas that are perfect for one-year-olds!

100+ No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

In this post, we’ve compiled over 100 low-prep and no-prep activities that you can do with your 1-year-old. From sensory play to outdoor exploration, we’ve got you covered with ideas that are easy to set up and require minimal materials. Whether you’re looking for a quick activity to fill a few minutes or a longer project to occupy an entire afternoon, you’re sure to find something that works for you and your little one.

Not only are these activities fun and engaging, but they also provide opportunities for your one-year-old to develop important skills such as hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, and language development. So, let’s dive in and explore the world of low-prep and no-prep activities for one-year-olds!


100+ No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

No-Prep Activities for 1 Year Olds

  • Dance party – turn on some music and dance around with your little one.
  • Hide-and-seek with toys – hide a few toys around the room and help your child find them.
  • Bubble blowing – blow bubbles and watch your child chase and pop them.
  • Stuffed animal parade – line up stuffed animals and march around the room with them.
  • Sensory bag exploration – fill a ziplock bag with different materials (like pasta or pom-poms) and let your child explore the texture. Find more ideas below.
  • Mirror play – hold a mirror up for your child to see themselves and make silly faces together.
  • Water play – fill up a shallow container with water and give your child cups and toys to play with.
  • Peek-a-boo – cover your face with your hands and play peek-a-boo with your child.
  • Ball roll – roll a ball back and forth with your child.
  • Storytime – read a book together and point out different objects and characters.
  • Sing-along – sing nursery rhymes or children’s songs together.
  • Follow the leader – take turns being the leader and doing different movements like jumping or spinning.
  • Sensory bin play – fill a bin with different materials (like rice or sand) and give your child cups and toys to play with.
  • Baby yoga – do simple yoga poses with your child.
  • Car ride – take a drive around the neighborhood and point out different sights.
  • Toy drum circle – give your child different toys to use as drums and play along with them.
  • Playdough fun – give your child playdough to squish and shape.
  • Nature walk – take a walk outside and point out different plants and animals.
  • Face painting – use washable paint to paint designs on your child’s face or hands.
  • Finger painting – let your child explore paint using their fingers and hands.
  • Balloon play – blow up a balloon and play catch or bat it around with your child.
  • Puppet show – use stuffed animals or make sock puppets to put on a puppet show.
  • Scarf dance – give your child a scarf to wave around and dance with.
  • DIY obstacle course – create an obstacle course with pillows, chairs, and other household items for your child to crawl or climb over.
  • Color scavenger hunt – choose a color and help your child find items around the house that match that color.
  • Animal sound game – make different animal sounds and ask your child to mimic them.
  • Water bottle shakers – fill empty water bottles with beans or rice and let your child shake them to make noise.
  • Sensory painting – let your child explore different materials like pudding or whipped cream to create a sensory painting.
  • DIY cardboard box play – give your child a cardboard box to crawl in and decorate with markers or stickers.
  • Sensory walk – create a sensory path by laying out different materials like bubble wrap or carpet squares for your child to walk on.
  • Balloon volleyball – use a balloon to play a gentle game of volleyball with your child.
  • Fruit tasting – introduce your child to different fruits and let them explore the texture and taste.
  • Flashlight fun – use a flashlight to make shadows on the wall and play a game of “find the light”.

More No & Low-Prep Activities for 1 Year Olds

  • Foam bath – add a little bit of foam soap to the bathtub and let your child play and make bubbles.
  • Drawing with chalk – give your child some sidewalk chalk and let them draw on the sidewalk or driveway.
  • Animal parade – have your child line up their stuffed animals and lead them on a parade around the house.
  • Cardboard tube play – give your child empty cardboard tubes to stack and play with.
  • Sensory bin with ice – fill a bin with ice and let your child explore the cold sensation.
  • Scarf peek-a-boo – play peek-a-boo with a scarf or blanket for added sensory fun.
  • Nature scavenger hunt – go on a walk outside and look for different items like leaves, rocks, or flowers.
  • Ribbon dance – give your child a ribbon or streamer to dance and move around with.
  • Box tunnel – use boxes or couch cushions to create a tunnel for your child to crawl through.
  • Sensory bin with water – fill a bin with water and give your child different items to play with, like cups or rubber duckies.
  • Sock matching game – find pairs of socks and have your child help match them up.
  • Pots and pans band – give your child different pots and pans to bang on with utensils for a musical experience.
  • Toy car wash – use a plastic bin with soapy water and a sponge to “wash” toy cars or trucks.
  • Soft object play – give your child soft objects to play with like stuffed animals or pillows.
  • Blanket fort – use blankets and pillows to build a fort for your child to crawl or play in.
  • Sensory bin with straws – fill a bin with straws and give your child different items to play with or poke them into, like a yogurt container with holes punched into it.
  • Bubble wrap stomp – lay out a sheet of bubble wrap and let your child stomp on it to hear the popping sounds.
  • Slow Fast Dance party – put on some slow music and dance and then change it and put on some fast music and have a dance party with your child.
  • Drawing on a Mirror – hand your one year old some washable window markers and let them draw on a hand mirror.
  • Spoon and cup play – give your child a spoon and cups to play with and explore.
  • Paper towel roll art – use an empty paper towel roll and stamp and paint to create unique art and a piece of paper.
  • Sticker fun – give your child stickers to stick on paper or even on their own hands.
  • Rice bin play – fill a bin with rice and give your child measuring cups and spoons to play with.
  • DIY ball pit – fill a small inflatable pool or bathtub with plastic balls for your child to play in.
  • Car track play – use painter’s tape to create a car track on the floor for your child to play with toy cars.
  • Sensory bin with shaving cream – fill a bin with shaving cream for a sensory play experience.
  • Bean bag toss – make a simple bean bag and use a cardboard box as a target for your child to toss it into.
  • Nature collage – collect leaves, flowers, and other natural materials and create a collage with your child.
  • Sensory bin with sand – fill a bin with sand and give your child different items to play with, like toy shovels and buckets.
  • DIY drum set – use pots, pans, and other kitchen items to create a DIY drum set for your child to play with.
  • Play dough fun – make homemade play dough or use store-bought play dough for your child to play with and explore.
  • Puddle jumping – put on rain boots and jump in puddles with your child.
  • Sensory bin with pasta – fill a bin with uncooked pasta and give your child different items to play with, like toy cars and trucks.
  • Paper bag puppet play – use paper bags and markers to create puppets for a puppet show.
  • Bath time art – use bath crayons to draw on the walls during bath time.
  • Stuffed animal picnic – set up a picnic with stuffed animals and have your child join in.
  • Texture hunt – find different textures around the house, like a fuzzy blanket or a smooth table, and have your child explore them.
  • DIY shaker – fill a plastic container with rice or beans to create a DIY shaker for your child to play with.
  • Sensory bin with cotton balls – fill a bin with cotton balls and give your child different items to play with, like small containers and spoons.
  • Toy car ramp – use a cardboard tube or a piece of PVC pipe to create a ramp for toy cars.
  • Stamping art – use stamps and ink pads to create artwork with your child.
  • Bubble bath – add bubble bath to the tub and let your child play and make bubbles.
  • Indoor obstacle course – use pillows, blankets, and other household items to create an obstacle course for your child to crawl or climb through.
  • Window art – use window markers or washable paint to create art on the windows with your child.
  • DIY ribbon wand – tie ribbons onto a stick or a wooden spoon to create a DIY ribbon wand for your child to play with.
  • Play restaurant – use play food and dishes to set up a pretend restaurant with your child.
  • Laundry basket play – let your child play in a laundry basket filled with stuffed animals or other toys.
  • Chalk art – draw on the sidewalk or driveway with chalk with your child.
  • Sensory bin with water and ice – fill a bin with water and ice and give your child different items to play with, like toy boats or spoons.
  • Bath time toys – add toys like rubber ducks or foam letters to bath time for your child to play with.
  • Sensory bin with shredded paper – fill a bin with shredded paper and give your child different items to play with, like small balls or cups.
  • Shadow puppets – use a flashlight to create shadow puppets on the wall with your child.
  • Sensory bin with dried pasta – fill a bin with different types of dried pasta and give your child different items to play with, like toy cars or scoops.
  • Bubble wrap art – give your child bubble wrap and washable paint to create art with a unique texture.
  • Balloon volleyball – blow up a balloon and play volleyball with your child using your hands or a paper plate.
  • Sensory bin with shaving cream – fill a bin with shaving cream and give your child different items to play with, like toy animals or spoons.
  • Nature walk – take a walk outside and let your child explore nature, like touching leaves or looking at flowers.
  • Play tunnel – use a large box or a sheet to create a play tunnel for your child to crawl through.
  • Sensory bin with water and soap – fill a bin with water and soap and give your child different items to play with, like sponges or plastic animals.
  • Body tracing – use a large piece of paper to trace your child’s body and let them decorate it with markers or stickers.
  • Sensory bin with rice and spices – fill a bin with uncooked rice and add spices like cinnamon or cardamom for a sensory experience.

More Low-Prep Activities for 1 Year Olds

  • 30+ No Prep Things to Do at Home With Your 1 Year Old – Happy Toddler Playtime with a free printable list of the 30+ ideas.
  • Tape Pull Fine Motor Activity – Mama.Papa.Bubba
  • Post-it Push – Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Pipe Cleaner Pick Up Sticks – Toddler Approved
  • DIY Flip Book – Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Q-Tip Push – Happily Ever Mom
  • Peek-a-Boo Puzzle – Happy Toddler playtime
  • Clothespin Pull – Days with Grey
  • Magna Tile Cap Drop – Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Painting with Water and Cotton Balls – Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Muffin Tin Veggie Sort – Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Card Slot Drop – Busy Toddler
  • Book Drop – Happy Toddler Playtime

Sensory Bags & Mess-Free Painting

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

RELATED: 45+ Sensory Bags for 1 Year Olds

Sensory bins.

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

RELATED: 15+ Sensory Bins for 1 Year Olds

Good sensory bin fillers for 1 year olds are green peas, corn, water, ice. Check out the post for more easy ideas.

Contact Paper Activities

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

Here are a few ideas of low-prep contact paper activities for 1 year olds:

  • Cardboard Tube Sticky Wall – Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Baby Ring Grab – Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Taby Sticky Wall – Busy Toddler
  • Balloon Sticky Wall – Hello Wonderful
  • Easter Bunny Sticky Wall – Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Outside Sticky Wall – Busy Toddler
  • Baby Puzzle Grab – Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Cloudy Day Sticky Wall – Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Yarn Sticky Wall – Hello Wonderful
  • Baby Shape Grab – Happy Toddler Playtime

Discovery Baskets

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

Discovery baskets are a super easy no prep way to entertain your 1 year old. And there are a million ways to create them for your baby using the things you already have in your home.

Check out these posts for ideas:

  • How to Create Montessori Baby Discovery Baskets – Mama Happy Hive
  • Discovery Basket Ideas – How We Montessori
  • Discovery Baskets for 1 year olds – Mama.Papa.Bubba
  • 12 Super Easy Discovery Basket Ideas -Mama Meganallysa

The recommended age for play dough is 2 year olds, however, I let my 20 month twins play with homemade play dough. Use your best judgement when playing with play dough. It may not be appropriate for your 12 month old but by 20 months your baby may be ready to start playing with it. Again as a parent you know what’s best for your child – use YOUR best judgement as when and if to introduce play dough to your 1 year old.

Check out this post from Mama.Papa.Bubba for a baby safe play dough recipe – Baby Play Dough .

If you don’t have time to make baby safe play dough you can place regular play dough in a sensory bag and let your little on play with it that way!

100+ No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

When playing with play dough provide tools and loose parts that aren’t choking hazards. With play dough adult supervision is required at all times when your 1 year old is playing

Here are some easy loose parts your little one can use with play dough:

  • Puzzle pieces
  • Pasta Shells

Check out this post for introducing loose parts to 1 year olds How to Introduce Loose Parts With Infants and Toddlers – Fairy Dust Teaching.

Even More No-Prep Activities for 1 Year Olds:

Peekaboo Boxes – Our Bold Mere Home

Easy Indoor Gross Motor – My Baby Plays

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Rachel | My Baby Plays (@my.baby.plays)

Easy Cereal Transfer – My Baby Plays

Mega Blok Rescue – Baby Belle Fun

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Isabelle & Joshua (@busylittletoddlers)

Feed and Wash the Animals – Mama and Cub Play

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Matina | Learning through play advocate (@mama.and.me.play)

Fruit Sensory Water Play – Creative_Cubs

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Creative Cubs (@my_creative_cubs_)

Playing Safely

It’s important to note that when it comes to playing with 1 year olds, constant adult supervision is required to ensure their safety. While these no-prep activities can be fun and educational for young children, it’s important to remember that they may still be exploring the world and learning about cause and effect. This means that there may be potential hazards in the environment that they might not recognize, and it’s up to adults to ensure that they stay safe.

Therefore, before engaging in any of these activities, it’s important to make sure that the environment is free of any potential hazards, such as sharp objects or small items that could be choking hazards. Additionally, parents and caregivers should remain actively engaged and attentive to the child’s behavior and any changes in their surroundings during playtime.

While these activities can be enjoyable for both children and adults, safety should always be the top priority. By providing constant supervision and taking necessary precautions, parents and caregivers can ensure that their child has a fun and safe experience while playing and learning.

Toddler and Preschooler Curriculums, Books & TV Show!

Play2learn toddler & preschool programs for curious toddlers.

There is no limit to your toddler’s energy and curiosity. That energy and curiosity although a joy can be challenging at times. Their interest in just about everything around them is what makes them great learners. One and two year olds can soak up so much just from their senses!

But as a teacher or parent that thirst for learning can be exhausting. That is why I created this toddler and preschooler program. To help you get the most out of this time with your curious toddler without having to come up with creative ways to play and interact with them.

Play2Learn for Toddlers  includes 20 Units for toddlers. Each 2-week toddler unit has 20 super easy to set up and engaging activities for toddlers 18 months to 3 years.

Play2Learn Preschool  which includes 20 Units for preschoolers. Each 2-week preschoolers unit has 20 unique and easy to set up and engaging activities for preschoolers 3 years to 5 years.  That’s over 800 learning activities for your toddler and preschooler at your fingertips! So many ideas you and your child will never be bored again! 

These  toddler and preschool lesson plans and activities  will definitely keep you and your toddler and preschooler busy playing and learning!

Click here for more information: Play2Learn

100+ No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

Designed for toddlers 18 months and up.

Book:  Exciting Sensory Bins for Curious Kids

Did you know I wrote a book of sensory bins? Click here for more information  Exciting Sensory Bin for Curious Kids . Or grab your copy at  Amazon . 

Boring afternoons are made exciting with awesome animal-based bins, like Salty Shark Bay or Yarn Farm. Pretend play bins like Birthday Cake Sensory Play or Bubble Tea Party encourage creativity and imagination. And your kids will have so much fun they won’t even know they’re getting smarter with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) activities like Sink or Float Soup, Magnetic Letter Hunt or Ice Cream Scoop and Count.

100+ No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

Book:  Super STEAM Activity Book for Kids

Learning all about science, technology, engineering, art, and math sets kids up for scholastic success―and it can be so much fun! Watch kids enjoy building STEAM skills as they color friendly fish, help water find its way to tree roots, solve math problems with mazes, and more. 

Find out more and grab your copy  here .

Designed for preschoolers 3 years old and up.

100+ No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

Book:  Big Book of Riddles for Kids

Riddle me this: What’s an exciting way to practice critical thinking while having a blast?  The Big Riddle Book for Kids , of course! From hilarious puns to tough brain teasers, kids can build problem-solving skills with hundreds of riddles that show them how to think outside the box.

  • 350 riddles for kids —Have hours of fun with riddles, puns and jokes, and math and logic puzzles that’ll get their wheels turning!
  • Level up their skills —Riddles get trickier as kids progress through the book, challenging them as they get better at solving puzzles!
  • Double-check their work —Kids can check their answers in the back of the book with a handy answer key.

Help children expand their minds while having fun with this puzzle book for kids!

Designed for kids ages 6 years   old and up.

100+ No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

TV Show:  Curious Crafting

I’m so excited to finally share my new crafting TV show  Curious Crafting  which launched July 1 at on  TVOkids  and  TVOkids YouTube !

Set in the ultimate crafting space, Curious Crafting is a short form pre-school age series about the joy of making crafts. I lead a rotating cast of adorable little preschoolers (including my own) making magic out of common household objects.

In each episode we transform recycled items into magical crafts like a milk carton school bus, paper bag puppet or cotton pad turtle. The crafters learn and laugh their way through each activity while demonstrating what their young imaginations can create. 

Curious Crafting shares the adventure and joy of making art with takeaway lessons for creating crafts at home.

This show designed for toddlers and preschoolers 2.5 years old and up. 

100+ No-Prep Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds

Filed Under:

  • Fine Motor Skills
  • One Year Olds
  • Sensory Bins, Bottles and Bags

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educational activities for 1 2 year olds

8-week free lesson plans for 1 year olds

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

If you are looking for free lesson plans for 1-year-olds to get a sense of what it is to

Homeschool your little one or to add more learning through playtime at home here are 8 lesson ideas that I worked on with my son.

free lesson plans for 1 year olds

This post is a resource with 8 weeks of free lesson plans for 1 year olds .

I worked with speech developers, teachers, and other moms who have done teaching at home and took all their recommendations plus my research on what to teach them at this age and combined it with my passion for making teaching fun and creative.

Give them that advantage of knowledge before they start pre-k with fun activities during playtime with these free lesson plans for 1 year olds .

Fast-forward a year and now I have been featured in PBS kids, teach sensory classes and help thousands of moms teach their little ones at home and have a play membership helping moms teach their little ones at home, feel confident and empowered hand by hand with me along their journey ( Here We Grow )

Select the lesson plan you want to access. Each lesson plan has 3-4 activities to do at home this week.

one year old lesson plan

Free One-Year-Old Lesson Plans

The areas of learning and development we will focus on in these 8 lessons are:

  • Fine motor skills ,
  • Gross motor skills
  • Music Appreciation
  • Art & crafts
  • Language development
  • Critical thinking
  • Pre-k readiness
I love the idea of having my toddler at home with me every day, and I want to maximize my time with him and practice skills that will help him succeed in pre-k as he works on each developmental milestone. Before I know it he will be starting pre-k and I want to make sure I prepare him well for that. Amanda Novello

Our Products

After hours of research, purchasing products, and later finding out they were NOT suitable for a one-year-old, I gave up and the teacher in me had to come out. I developed a workbook and a full curriculum to teach our little ones what they should know at one year old. This was all tweaked and tested by multiple moms before it was launched.

If you want something quick with a low setup like the Toddler Binder for busy Moms , or you want more hands-on sensory activities like the ones included in the My First School: One-Year-Old Curriculum you will finally spend more time playing with your little one than searching for activities to do with him/her.

Free One Year Old Lesson Plans

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The Montessori-Minded Mom

10 Awesome Montessori Activities for 1-2 Year-Olds

With an overwhelming amount of Montessori toys on the market and Montessori activities for 1-year-olds you see set up on social media, it can be stressful trying to choose the “right” ones.

Parents should not feel the need to spend an exorbitant amount of money or set up elaborate, picture-perfect Montessori activities for 1-year-olds (1-2year olds)

There is no need.

Especially when you consider that Maria Montessori did not actually design any toys along with her educational materials, nor did she design her educational method for well-off families.

The key to choosing Montessori activities for 1-year-olds is to keep it simple and follow your child's development and interests.

Kids this age are learning to manipulate objects, stand, walk, and talk.

So the 10 toys and activities for 12-month-olds that we’ve selected below are a mix of toys and practical, homemade activities that help develop hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, and communication skills.

These are all appropriate for ages 1-2 years old.

(This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links costs you nothing extra, but helps with our website upkeep.)

The 10 best Montessori activities for 1-2 year-olds

#1 climbing activities.

First, no Montessori list is complete without mention of indoor climbing toys like the infamous Pikler triangle .

image of piccalio pikler triangle.

Early climbing skills help children develop gross motor skills , coordination, and improve balance.

For caregivers who would rather opt for a Pikler alternative, you can create an indoor obstacle course using couch cushions, pillows, and blankets.

There are many different styles and manufacturers to choose from, so you will want to take your time and pick out the right one. For more information about climbing triangles, click here .

#2 Household Exploration

Follow a toddler’s natural inclination to explore by making your home a safe and accessible environment.

Leave Tupperware, blocks, kitchen utensils, boxes, or any other unused items in drawers and cabinets within your child’s reach.

Montessori activities for 1-year-olds that are not yet walking, or are new to walking, can be set up in a “ yes space “-type area.

Many parents go ahead and set up a Montessori-inspired playroom at this age, as well.

This allows toddlers to satisfy their curiosity as they safely make sense of their surroundings.

#3 Pull-Up Bar

A Montessori pull-up bar helps children learn to pull up, stand, and cruise on their own.

For added benefit, place a mirror behind the bar.

This will give little ones extra motivation and allow them to explore and later identify their facial expressions (which will help them develop emotional intelligence as they grow). 

Ogears Montessori Pull Up Bar for...

  • Dimensions of the Mirror (L x W x H): 50*40*2 cm / 19.7*15.8*0.8…
  • Montessori pull up bar is a perfect and useful tool when your…
  • Learning to walk is easier, with it babies are more willing to…

#4 Toddler Library

Leave out well-loved board and cloth books that have already been read multiple times in a basket, shelf, or easy-to-reach area.

Toddlers will be able to independently flip the pages, which helps with fine motor skills, before learning to “read” to themselves.

They can analyze pictures, which helps with reading comprehension skills as they get older.

And work on speech development as they begin to identify vocabulary words and start “reading” the text they remember hearing countless times before.

The Babies and Doggies Book

  • Schindel, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 26 Pages – 03/03/2015 (Publication Date) – Clarion Books…

Puzzles are another excellent Montessori toy for 12-month-olds that help with hand-eye coordination, shape recognition, and problem-solving .

Developmentally appropriate puzzles for one-year-olds should have no more than a few pieces. 

Wooden Montessori Animal Puzzles for...

  • PERFECT FIRST JIGSAW PUZZLE: Did you know that solving jigsaw…
  • MADE FOR LITTLE HANDS: The Montessori & Me Safari Animal Puzzles…
  • REAL ANIMALS FOR THE REAL WORLD: The Montessori approach…

#6 Sensory Play

Break out items with different textures, sizes, and sounds and put them in a sensory table —it’s a fantastic (and easy to put together) Montessori activity for 12-month-olds.

Flowers, grass, salt, sand, rice, fruit, spices, water, and ice are just a few household items that they can manipulate by touching, hearing, smelling, and tasting (with supervision).

Montessori activities can be set up using these items and more.

Sensory play is important for many reasons, including the refinement of the child's 9 senses

Parents and caregivers often choose to set up sensory bins for their children to help contain any spills.

wingyz Kids Table for Play Study Dining...

  • [Product Specification]: Wingyz kids table has one table frame,…
  • [Application]: It can be used as a study table, a toy table, a…
  • [Safety Design]: The four corners of the table are rounded and…

#7 Stacking Activities

Kids can stack, unstack, knockdown, and line up these beautiful Montessori-aligned stacking toys for one-year-olds.

They help with color recognition, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, fine motor skills, and gross motor skills.

You don't need to purchase anything for stacking activities, though.

1-2 year-olds enjoy stacking and building with anything they can find.

HABA Stacking Game Color Crystals

  • Item Package Quantity: 1
  • Country of origin:- Germany
  • Package Weight: 721 grams

#8 Household Chores

At 12 months old, a child is old enough to observe their surroundings and want to do what their caregiver or older siblings are up to.

By the time they are closer to 2, they should be able to participate in some capacity.

In Montessori, these tasks are called Practical Life works.

That can be anything from sweeping, dusting, carrying their plate to the table, washing dishes, or helping to prepare food.

While it may result in more mess, it gives children an introduction to practical real-world skills , while giving them a sense of responsibility and self-worth.

Learning towers are a great benefit to Montessori families at this age.

This piece of furniture allows toddlers to participate in cooking and cleaning to a greater extent – and with a higher degree of safety than with a chair or stool.

#9 Object Permanence Box & Coin Drop Box

An object permanence box teaches toddlers that an item can disappear and return.

This activity is captivating for toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2.

Busy edition Montessori Toys for Babies...

  • ❤QUIET DESIGN – The Object Permanence Box with Tray contains a…
  • ❤SUITABLE SIZE – The size of the object permanence box and the…
  • ❤EARLY DEVELOPMENT – This ball drop toy practices precise…

Using repetition (the ball goes in the hole and out of the house, repeat), it boosts hand-eye coordination (getting the ball in the hole), plus fine and gross motor skills.

This is also a great schematic play activity . For 1-year-olds who are interested in more fine motor activities, a coin drop box is also a great option.

MORITECK Montessori Coin Box and Object...

  • NATURAL DEVELOPMENT- Infants always feel excited when watching…
  • MONTESSORI AGE-BASED TOY- perfect for 8-12 months and up old…
  • PERFECT GIFT- Great Montessori Toy for your baby. This classic…

There's no need to buy anything for this Montessori activity, though.

If you don't want to invest in a toy, you can put a hole in a canister and let your baby drop pom-poms in, then take the lid off so they can find them.

You can easily make your own object permanence activity for your 1-year-old with a shoe box and a small ball.

#10 Household Musical Instruments

Children can hear and appreciate music in the womb, so it’s no surprise that by one year, they’ll love being able to make music (or noise) on their own.

Use spoons, sticks, boxes, or pans to make homemade instruments that will allow them to compose their own lovely melodies.

Music and movement activities , as well, are great Montessori-aligned activities for 1-2 year olds.

No products found.

There Is No “Right” Montessori Activity for 1-Year Olds

Instead, focus on Montessori-inspired activities that involve open-ended toys that kids can experiment with independently and involve your budding toddler in household activities.

Using this list of household activities and Montessori activities for 1-2-year olds, toddlers can learn invaluable life skills that lay the foundation for childhood and beyond.

Cheers and don't forget to subscribe!

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Paper Heart Family

30 Fun, Easy Outdoor Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

By: Author Allison Groen

Posted on Published: June 12, 2023  - Last updated: July 17, 2023

It’s SUMMER! Does anyone else immediately think of your toddler singing Olaf’s summer song whenever you think about summer? 

My favorite… “Just imagine how much cooler I’ll be in summer”. 

Soooo Olaf obviously didn’t do his research because outdoor activities can be difficult on a hot day. 

But, young children love spending time outside in a natural environment. 

And those sunshine rays are excellent for everyone’s mental health! 

In the book  Balanced and Barefoot , Angela Hascom, a pediatric occupational therapist tells us how important outdoor play is for children and that it is necessary for a truly balanced childhood. 

“In recent years, a new nature movement has emerged that… gives special attention to the right of every child to the benefits that nature brings to children’s physical and mental health and their ability to learn and create” (Hascom 2016). 

Let’s face it— kids play better, nicer and more cooperatively when they are outside. 

And double whammy because then as the parent, you don’t have to do so much entertaining! 

So let’s get into some fun creative play ideas for easy outdoor activities to do with your kiddos that will keep you busy all summer long! 

If you’re in need of a great activity for the whole family, then check out this post on  outdoor activities . 

For now, we will focus on activities for our little kids. 

Outdoor Activities For 1-2 Year Olds


1. Complete A Physical Activity Challenge

Here is a great  physical activity challenge  to try with your young toddlers! 

Physical activity is so important at this age (especially if you want them to sleep good at night). 

Get them moving to engage multiple parts of their brain all at once when they are outside. 

The challenge even comes with these adorable printable badges that your toddler can earn upon completing each task!

Physical activity toddler challenge with printable completion badges

You can do this in your backyard or head over to a local park! 

2. Play Red Light, Green Light

This is one of those great activities that never gets old! 

And it’s best done outside anyways so kids aren’t running into each other. 

Toddlers love pairing a color with an action (such as red for stop and green for go). 

This is a great physical development game that will ensure a good nap for both you and your little one later. 

3. Play In Water

Kids love WATER PLAY!  

I don’t know about you, but I find more water on the outside of the tub than the inside when I bathe my kids. 

Simply because they are having too much fun splashing around and pouring water everywhere! 

So… why not try the splash pad?! 

If you don’t have one of your own yet, now is a great time to invest. 

My daughter got a splash pad for her second birthday and used it almost daily in the summer. 

If you don’t want to spend the money, then look around your community for a public splash pad. 

Another great idea is doing backyard water games. 

Sensory Bins

Use sensory bins and fill it with different size containers along with measuring cups to pour. (For added fun, you can use food coloring and practice mixing different colors). 

Add a syringe to the mix and your child will think you’re the greatest for letting them be the “doctor” who administers the “medicine” to the pretend patients. 

Another good idea is using a sponge. 

Sponge Bombs

Make your own DIY sponge bombs by helping your child fill a sponge with water and then drop them from a balcony or porch. 

Watching the big splash will bring lots of giggles. 

You can also help them practice transferring water with a sponge. 

Water Transfer

Fill up one bucket with water and have another empty bucket sitting a few feet away. 

Have your tot fill up a sponge in the first bucket and then run it to the other bucket, squeeze it out, then repeat until all the water from one bucket is gone. 

Then do it again with the buckets further apart this time! 

Water Table

A water table is also a fun way to play with water outside! 

You can create your own simply by putting your sensory bin on a small table for your child. 

Or find a water table on Amazon . This is definitely one of our best outdoor toys! 

4. Have A Picnic

Picnics with your toddler can be so fun! (Unless you have a busy toddler). 

Lay out a large piece of paper (butcher paper preferably) and color on it while you eat your lunch together. 

Try going to a park for a change of scenery. 

5. Water The Flowers

If you don’t have flowers to water, you might consider planting some just for this activity! 

Teaching 2 year olds to be helpful is a great idea and watering the flowers is a good “job” for them. 

Our children’s museum in downtown Phoenix has a whole courtyard with plants and flowers planted for kids to fill up watering cans and practice taking care of them. 

My girls could stay there for hours! 

6. Do A Nature Scavenger Hunt

This one takes a little bit more effort to put together, but is one of those great outdoor learning activities. 

Print out a few pictures of things you can find outside (or draw them if you don’t have access to a printer). 

They can be simple. For example: a flower, tree, bird, grass, swing set, a stick, dirt, rock, etc. 

7. Set Up A Tent

Want to go camping but don’t want to pack everything up to go into the mountains and the great outdoors? 

Why not set up a tent in your own backyard?! 

Your kids will love you forever for doing this with them! 

If you have older kids, let them help to set it up. 

Otherwise, you could have your kids tell you the “instructions” while you do the work (they’ll feel super helpful). 

When you finish, find different sounds that you would hear while camping and play it in the tent. 

You could even have s’mores while you’re at it! 

8. Play With Ice

Ice Ice baby! Ice is a great way to do sensory play. 

And the best part is, it just melts and you don’t have any clean up! 

This sensory experience is great for little hands because they can usually fit the ice cube in their palm. 

Tip: if it‘s too cold for them to hold, you can put a paper towel around it. 

Or prep them the night before with popsicle sticks in the ice cube tray before freezing the water. It will act as a great paintbrush the next day! 

Have them use their ice cubes to “paint” a picture on the sidewalk or driveway. 

Then count how long it takes for the picture to “disappear” and do it all over again! 

The fun never ends with this one! 

9. Set Up A Mini Obstacle Course

My kiddos LOVE obstacle courses… especially when it’s a race! 

It can be as simple as running from one spot to the next to the next and then back to the start, or you can make it more complex. 

Use cones for them to run around, hula hoops that they have to jump through, and a slide with hose water running down it. 

Make sure you participate in the obstacle course for toddlers too for optimum laughter 🙂 

10. Plant A Garden

Similar to watering flowers, planting a garden with your young one allows them to feel fulfilled and like they are helping out the family. 

Have them choose which kinds of fruits or vegetables they want to plant and then go to your local Lowe’s or Home Depot to get the supplies. 

They will love seeing that the tiny seeds can grow into something that they can eat for a meal! 

11. Count Items You See

Counting is a great learning activity that doesn’t just have to be done inside! 

Help your child count animals that they can find (bugs, birds, dogs, etc). 

Or even try counting different types of trees and flowers. 

Challenge their thinking by asking them which category has the most and which has the least. 

12. Blow Bubbles

What child doesn’t LOVE bubbles?! 

You can grab some from the dollar store, or make your own using this recipe  here . 

Simply pour it on a cookie sheet and then use cookie cutters to dip in and blow out the bubbles. 

13. Roll A Ball

If you have younger children, then rolling a ball back and forth to each other on the grass is a great way to practice those gross motor skills. 

For older toddlers, you can practice kicking the ball back and forth and helping them learn how to stop the ball with their foot. 

This is a challenging skill for a lot of kids as it requires hand-eye coordination. 

So be patient with your little one if they don’t pick it up right away. 

You can always sing them a little  Daniel Tiger song  if they start feeling frustrated that they can’t do it! 

14. Play With Water Balloons

Check out these fun  water balloon activities  for your backyard that will be engaging for you AND your little one! 

I just got these reusable water balloons for my kids and they definitely live up to the hype!

15. “Wash” The Car Or Bikes

How fun would it be for a kid to go through a pretend car wash?! 

Especially if your child is scared of the real car wash (like mine are), then doing an at home “bike wash” is a great way to help them become more familiar with it. 

Switch off roles by being the “car washer” and the “car driver” so that your child gets a turn to ride his or her bike through the wash as well as direct and spray YOU through the wash. 

You’re bound to end in soapy bonding laughter together! 

16. Play In The Dirt

Who needs a sensory bin when you have dirt! 

Kids don’t need a lot to challenge their cognitive and imaginative skills. 

Add in a shovel and a few toy trucks to make a construction site and they’ll be set for hours on end. 

If you’re feeling brave, you can also add in some water to help them learn about mud. 

(Just make sure to have old towels and the hose ready to go for when they finish). 

17. Ask Some Questions While Your Toddler Is Playing

When kids play outside, they tend to get so immersed in their imagination that they don’t necessarily ”need” you to be playing right next to them. 

However, they do love it when we as adults engage with them in their world. 

So as they play, try asking them questions. 

If you need a great place to start, check out these  summer would you rather questions . 

18. Play Laundry Basket Basketball

Here’s a simple activity! 

Take a laundry basket out to the middle of the yard with some balls of various sizes. 

Have a fun afternoon shooting some hoops with your toddler. 

19. Take The Messy Toys Outside

Who here likes to clean up paint on the table? 


What about play doh in the carpet? 

Or kinetic sand in between every kitchen tile? 

Ok. Yeah. NOBODY! Sometimes I wonder why I buy these things for my kids. 

BUT. Let me tell you a secret… outside doesn’t have to be clean! 

Take all of these things outside and solve a whole bunch of your clean up problems. 

No more stressing about the paint getting on the new couch! 

Even if it is raining, getting outside to do these activities can be a great way to break up the day. 

Simply sit on the covered back patio or put an easy up out for a change of scenery. 

20. Read Outside On A Blanket

Brain activity increases in the left hemisphere of our brain while reading. 

This, combined with the serotonin release from being outside in the sunshine, is bound to produce significant results for both you and your toddler! 

After you finish reading, take time to lay down together and look at the clouds in the sky. Point out the pictures that you see! 

21. Simulate Rain With A Hose And Umbrella

Toddlers love to watch the rain, but can sometimes be scared to go outside in an actual rain storm because of the thunder. 

So, try re-creating a rain storm for them! 

Whip out the umbrella and teach them how to use it! 

They will love recognizing that they can stay dry under the umbrella while you spray the “rain” up above them. 

22. Play Wet Twister

Twister for toddlers is a tricky concept because they don’t always know they’re left from their right yet. 

However, they are working on their colors! 

Try covering your Twister mat with water and then ask your child to jump from color to color. 

Take turns so that they are directing you to jump from color to color next. They will love the fact that they are “in charge” of getting you all wet. 

For more fun, turn it into a slip n’ slide when you finish! 

23. Play Follow The Leader

Most kids enjoy directing adults since we are the ones who direct them all day! 

How about we take a break for a bit and leave it to our toddler to tell us what to do and where to go. 

Let them lead you around the yard doing all sorts of silly things… jumping backwards, crawling, rolling in the grass. 

You could even suggest that they make silly faces while doing it! 

Turn on music and make it a parade. 

24. Pick A Bouquet Of Wildflowers

Go to an open field and find wildflowers for your child to pick (bring some scissors for the tricky ones to pull out). 

Talk with your child about the different colors of flowers, why wildflowers grow, and count them as you put them into your bouquet. 

Bring them home and put them in a vase in the sunshine, or tie a pretty bow around them and gift them to a neighbor or loved one! 

25. Draw On A Sliding Glass Door With Dry Erase Markers

This is one of my favorite toddler activities! 

Your toddler will love the fact that you are giving him or her permission to draw on something that seems “off limits”. 

I have found that a black dry erase marker can be seen the best, but try it out with all different colors if you want! 

Try a game of tic tac toe together if you have an older toddler. 

Or practice tracing and writing different letters together for their developing cognitive skills. 

26. Paint With Feet

Make sure you use non-toxic paints for this one as it will be on your child’s skin. 

Put a different color of paint on each paper plate, roll out a large piece of paper, and then let your child have at it! 

It’s like finger painting, but feet painting! Be sure to have the hose ready to spray off their little toes when you finish. 

Sidewalk chalk is so fun for kids! It allows a different part of creativity to come out in them. 

Try helping your toddler create a mini town with chalk. 

Add a road big enough for their “car” (bike) and then draw their house, the grocery store, the dentist, a church, a park, and anything else your child thinks the town needs. 

They will have fun playing in their new town for hours on end! 

Another great challenge for your toddler is to see if your child can erase your chalk drawings with water quicker than you can draw them. 

Hand them a spray bottle and they can follow you with water while you draw in front of them. 

28. Make A Nature Collage


While you do your outdoor scavenger hunt , you can hand your child a zip lock bag to collect all of their items. Save their collection to make a nature collage. 

Get out the glue and some construction paper and then let them have at it! 

See what they can create with all of the items that they found. 

You can also try challenging them to group their collection by category (all the flowers in one corner, all the sticks in another corner, and so on). 

29. Make A Maze Out Of Sticks

Help your toddler collect as many sticks as they can find! 

Then make a trail of sticks leading to a special “surprise” at the end (a small treat or afternoon snack will do the trick). 

Take turns setting up the maze and doing it with each other. 

Help your child to create it in a way that challenges their motor skills such as weaving back and forth or having them jump through the whole maze. 

30. See What Elements In Nature Sink Or Float

Predicting is a new skill that toddlers are starting to learn at this age. 

Collect multiple things in your yard or at a park and then come in to the sink or bath tub and ask your child if they think the item will sink or float. 

Then test your hypothesis and see if you are right! 

A toddler’s development will thrive if they can get even get an hour of sunshine and energy out everyday. 

It might take a little bit of extra planning, but both you and your kiddo will feel happier at the end of the day if you can get that outside time in! 

And all the better if it provides and fun and meaningful connection for you and your toddler! 

Toddler playing in water outside

20 Brain Development Activities For 2 Year Olds

Monday 12th of June 2023

[…] are everyday activities that we can do with our 2 year olds to spark development in a toddler’s brain that can help these early years to be really […]

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

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16 Sensory Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

September 14, 2019 by Librarian

These 16 sensory activities are great for improving fine motor skills, expressing creativity, and learning through play.

*We use affiliate links and may earn commission from purchases made through those links. All opinions are our own.

Sensory Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

Water Bead Play

Okay, if you don’t know about water beads, you should try them because most kids LOVE them. When you buy the beads, they’re little and dry, but when you add water, they become the most interesting thing to toddlers and preschoolers. Fill a bin with them and watch your child play, play, play.

Sensory Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

At Home Beach

Add flour and oil (ratio is 8 cups of flour to 1 cup of oil) to a bin and mix together. Add beach materials, such as seashells , plastic sea creatures, shovels, and buckets and explore the beach while sitting in your home. It’s also a taste-safe activity.

Sensory Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

Chocolate Cereal Explosion

For a great taste-safe sensory activity, add chocolate cereals to a bin—you can use just one kind of chocolate cereal or multiple, it’s up to you. Throw in a few plastic dinosaur toys and let your child explore this new land! Or, add in a few toy trucks , and your child can bulldoze dirt to his/her heart’s content.

Sensory Finger Painting

1-2 year olds aren’t going to have much control when using utensils such as paintbrushes or markers, so encourage them to use their fingers and hands to paint ! We love painting on different textures—think tinfoil , Styrofoam, cardboard, mirrors, plastic wrap , newspaper, etc.

Sensory Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

Shaving Cream Building

Blocks are so fun for 1-2 year olds, even if playing with them simply means you building towers and your 1-2 year old knocking them down. But, you can add a new element that will excited them (and make them messy): shaving cream. Squirt a couple of cans of shaving cream into a bin (we use dollar store shaving cream) and add blocks. Your child can search through the shaving cream to find the blocks or you can build towers with the shaving cream acting as mortar.

Sensory Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

Dry pasta or cooked pasta—both provide different experiences. Fill a bin with dry pasta and add different toys, such as cars or measuring cups, for sensory fun. Or, fill a bin with cooked pasta and watch your child explore the new sensations! Plus, pasta is taste-safe!

Sensory Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

Sticker Art

Stickers are going to be a hit for your child as he/she grows, so start practicing now! The child may not be able to peel off the stickers yet, but he/she will be able to stick them onto paper. Use stickers from the dollar store or try the labeling circle stickers from an office supply store.

Sensory Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

Bin Painting

Sit the child in a large, clear bin (obviously do NOT put the lid on) and give him/her paint to use in the bin. The child can paint himself/herself, the bottom of the bin, or the sides of the bin. Rinse the child off and rinse the bin when he/she is finished painting.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Play

Using an egg-less recipe, make edible chocolate chip cookie dough, and, when it’s finished, let your child play with it. They can roll it, squish it, break it, etc. And, it’s taste-safe.

Magnet Play

Grab a cookie sheet and child-friendly magnets (letters, numbers, animals, shapes, etc.) for some fun learning. The child can explore the concept of magnets (yay science), as well as begin the early stages of recognizing letters, numbers, animals, or shapes.

Mess-Free Painting

Thanks to Arty Crafty Kids for this fun idea! Add paint to gallon-size plastic bags , let out the extra air, seal them and tape them to a wall or table. Then, let the child move the paint by pushing their fingers across the surfaces of the bags. You can even add a science element and put two primary colors in the bags and explore color mixing!

Sensory Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

Sticky Wall Art

Tape a large piece of contact paper to the wall—sticky side out. Encourage the child to stick paper shapes onto the contact paper. It’s like playing with stickers, and playing on the vertical space is good for children’s brain development.

Soap and Water

Kids love to play with water, so add water to a shallow tub, squirt in some dish soap, and let your child play! Add some whisks, plastic cups, or toys to extend the play.

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

Ocean Exploration

Prepare a package of blue jello , but before putting the liquid into the fridge to harden, add plastic sea creatures and/or seashells to the child-safe pan or container. When the jello hardens, it will “trap” the toys inside. Your child can dig through the jello to uncover the toys, and then he/she can play with the toys and the jello.

Painting with Blocks

Paint is a great go-to when spending time with 1-2 year olds. To add an element of extra fun, use plastic blocks or bricks as paintbrushes. Set out paper, paint, and blocks, and show the child how to stamp the blocks into the paint and then onto the paper. It may not be the most beautiful painting you’ve ever seen, but it’s about the process of creating it. Thanks to Raising Little Super Heroes for the inspiration for this idea.

10 Art History Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

For an even simpler version of the At Home Beach, just put flour in a sensory bin, and let your child use whatever toys he/she would like to explore and play in. Kids love flour!

Sensory Activities for 1-2 Year Olds

Looking for more activities to do with your little one? Check out these:

20 Activities To Do With Your Toddler
10 Art History Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Group Process Art for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Canvas Challenge

Follow us on  Instagram  for more art history and process art activities!

10 Art History Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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Watch Our Videos! Fun Videos for Babies and Toddlers 1 year, 2 year, 3 year old.

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

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educational activities for 1 2 year olds




31 Best Educational Toys for Toddlers, Preschoolers and Big Kids

Parents, kids and Good Housekeeping Institute pros agree these learning toys are the most fun!

educational toys for toddlers

To find toys that strike the right balance, the Good Housekeeping Institute Little Lab tests toys throughout the year. For parents, they look for quality of construction, ease of use and frustration level. For kids, they make sure that the toys are fun (the most important factor), and something kids return to and are engaged with for long periods of time. They're mostly geared for little ones but there are a few selections for older kids to keep in mind for the future (or for older siblings). If these aren't enough, you can also check the Good Housekeeping Institute's age-by-age guide to toys and gifts for more recommendations, including STEM toys , sensory toys , family board games , and gifts for 1-year-olds and 2-year-olds (including gifts for toddlers and even stocking stuffers for toddlers !) all the way up to gifts for teens .

These are the the best educational toys for toddlers, preschoolers and elementary school students in 2022:

Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog

Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog

This cute hedgehog helps with fine motor coordination, since kids have to put the colorful spikes in the holes at different angles. It's also great for counting and color recognition. Parents loved that the quills easily store inside the back so you won't lose pieces! And if the kids become Spike fans, there's now a whole line of Spike toys, including a fidget toy , a sensory playset , a rainbow stacker and a puzzle . Ages 18 months+

RELATED: The Best Sensory Toys for Exploring Different Textures, Sights, and Sounds

Peaceable Kingdom Button, Button, Belly Button Game

Button, Button, Belly Button Game

Kids learn same vs. different, matching, colors and turn-taking when they play this board game, which challenges players to match their cards to the buttons or bears on the board. Good Housekeeping's testers requested this one over and over again. Ages 2+

RELATED: The Best Board Games for Kids, According to Parents and Experts

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank

Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Piggy Bank

Kids open the piggy bank to remove the colorful, numbered coins. The toy can play more than 40 fun songs, tunes and phrases to interact with your child. In the baby stages, kids use it to practice their fine motor coordination skills while putting the coins into the bank. As they get older, they can use it to learn counting and adding. Ages 6 months+

RELATED: The Best STEM Toys for Kids, According to the GH Institute

LEGO Education SPIKE™ Prime Set

Education SPIKE™ Prime Set

Let your imagination run wild with this open-ended playset. After constructing with colorful Lego building elements (bricks, sensors, motors, etc.), kids can layer on drag and drop coding based on the popular Scratch platform to create endless unique configurations, or use one of the 40+ guided lessons to learn more about the basics. As they develop their coding knowledge, they can explore text-based Python coding. While testing, we saw first-hand how early exposure to engineering and physics can help kids get excited about STEM. These products are a fun way for kids to learn through play, and help reinforce skills like experimentation and problem-solving. Ages 10+

Mega Mega Bloks Big Building Bag

Mega Bloks Big Building Bag

This classic 80-piece building set includes blocks of different shapes and colors for kids to construct whatever their minds' dream up. Testers whipped up everything from towers and trains to castles and animals. This set is great for helping to develop gross motor skills and promotes open-ended creativity . Plus, you can easily store pieces in the travel-friendly bag when playtime is over. Ages 1+

Educational Insights Design & Drill Creative Workshop

Design & Drill Creative Workshop

This construction kit helps foster STEM learning as budding builders learn about different drill bits (Phillips, socket and flathead) for their motorized drill to use on their colorful bolts. The toy also includes a screwdriver and combination wrench to help complete the activity cards or create their own designs. For younger ones, the Design & Drill Bolt Buddies adds in colorful characters and playsets. Ages 3+

The Learning Journey Count and Learn Cookie Jar

Count and Learn Cookie Jar

Kids learn to recognize numbers and count to ten with this electronic cookie jar. They practice fine motor skills to insert the cookie and when they do, the jar says the number that's on the cookie, so the number-learning is reinforced. Ages 2+

Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope

GeoSafari Jr. Talking Microscope

Kids can insert the slides to see beautiful, up-close images of wildlife. Then the voice of Bindi Irwin explains what they're looking at , so kids can learn science even if they don't know how to read yet. Ages 4+

Magna-Tiles Magna-Tiles 32-Piece Clear Colors Set

Magna-Tiles 32-Piece Clear Colors Set

Offering endless hours of fun, Magna-Tiles are a creative way to introduce educational topics like shapes, colors, engineering, principles of magnets, symmetry and more. They're also great for helping develop fine motor skills. Various sets are available with different piece counts and color options (think clear or glow-in-the-dark ). Ages 3+

Melissa & Doug Wooden Peg Puzzles

Wooden Peg Puzzles

This set includes three wooden peg puzzles designed for tiny fingers and helps develop fine motor and hand-eye skills . The 10-piece number set has illustrations of each numeral, the 26-piece alphabet set has illustrations of words starting with the letter it corresponds to, and the fish puzzle has the name of the color for each. Ages 2+

Shifu Orboot Augmented Reality Interactive Globe

Orboot Augmented Reality Interactive Globe

The best-selling globe on Amazon, this interactive world map pairs with an app that will let kids focus in on any region that interests them and learn more. There are more than 1,000 world facts loaded up in the app for them to explore. Ages 4+

Step2 Great Creations Art Center

Great Creations Art Center

This art center has it all: an art desk station with built-in storage, as well as a double-sided easel that has one side chalkboard, and the other a large whiteboard . Ample storage areas allow for crayons, markers, Play-doh, paint and more to be readily accessible and organized. Bonus: Three kids can easily create at once! Ages 3+

HABA Symphony Croc Music Band Set

Symphony Croc Music Band Set

This cute croc includes a drum with two mallets, a xylophone, a guiro wooden block (played by rubbing stick along notches on snout) and a bell. Multiple kids can play at once to help foster a sense of rhythm while developing motor skills . Ages 2+

LeapFrog LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set

LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set

Compatible with any magnetic surface, this set features interactive alphabet tiles. Placing a letter on the bus window enables your kids to hear the letter and related words . Plus, it includes fun, kid-friendly songs like the "Alphabet Song" and "Wheels on the Bus." Ages 2+

Melissa & Doug Learn-to-Play Piano

Learn-to-Play Piano

Have a budding Mozart? With 25 keys spanning two octaves, kids can experiment with high and low notes as well as loud and soft sounds. It includes a color-coded songbook that's great for older kids to use to play real songs. It comes in blue, pink and multi-colors. Ages 3+

Learning Resources Learning Resources Coding Critters

Learning Resources Coding Critters

Kids can get into the basics of coding without using a screen. The 22-piece set comes with coding challenges that do things like help the bunny find its carrot or pull the cart. A storybook walks kids through the challenges. In addition, there's a "play mode" where kids can use the pieces for imaginative free play. Different animals are available, including a dog, cat and dinosaur. This year, they've added MagiCoders, which come in the form of a unicorn or a dragon . Ages 4+

ThinkFun Roller Coaster Challenge

Roller Coaster Challenge

This is both a building toy and a board game all rolled up into one. Players pick a challenge card that asks kids to use certain pieces to build their roller coaster track. If they can use them to build one, and then have the car ride from start to finish with no disasters, they win! It helps them develop engineering and logic skills at the same time. Ages 6+

Good Housekeeping Good Housekeeping Amazing Science

Good Housekeeping Amazing Science

Kids get to play the role of at-home scientist, going from room to room and looking into the science behind phenomena like why bathroom mirrors get foggy or how to de-stink shoes. There are more than 80 hands-on experiments for them to try, using items that are commonly found around the house. Ages 7+

hand2mind Numberblocks MathLink Cubes

Numberblocks MathLink Cubes

If you know little fans of Numberblocks on Netflix, they'll love this counting set, a 2021 Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award winner. Kids can build their favorite characters from the show with the linking cubes, practicing counting in the process and also play with the math-based, wipe-clean activity cards included in the set. Ages 3+

RELATED: The Good Housekeeping Best Toy Awards

VTech Get Ready for School Learning Desk

Get Ready for School Learning Desk

This desk is basically a command center, loaded with parts that let them practice time-telling, track the weather and the days of the week or learn about the alphabet, numbers, counting, music, shapes, colors, the human body. But the true stand-out feature is the light-up projector, which lets kids trace numbers and letters with a stylus on a built-in interactive writing pad. Flip it over and there's also a chalkboard and easel. Ages 2+

Headshot of Marisa LaScala

Marisa (she/her) has covered all things parenting, from the postpartum period through the empty nest, for Good Housekeeping since 2018; she previously wrote about parents and families at Parents and Working Mother . She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn, where she can be found dominating the audio round at her local bar trivia night or tweeting about movies.

Headshot of Rachel Rothman

Rachel Rothman was the chief technologist and executive technical director of the Good Housekeeping Institute for over 15 years , overseeing testing methodology, implementation and reporting for all GH Labs. She also managed GH's research division and the analysis of applicants for the GH Seal and all other testing emblems. 

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75 Easy Sensory Activities For 1 Year Old Toddlers At Home

  • Last Updated: November 16, 2022

By Xyla Clarito

Inside: a bumper list of easy sensory activities for 1 year olds, to keep your young toddler engaged at home..

Once your infant reaches the 12 month mark and is more physically active, alert and inquisitive about the big wide world, you may find yourself wondering what next?

How can you entertain your 1 year old at home all day? 

How can you provide your young toddler with the opportunity to continue their healthy development?

It can feel a little overwhelming, but don’t worry. 

There are just so many easy sensory activities for 1 year olds you can try at home. 

There’s no need for expensive baby classes!  (Although these are a great way to get out of the house and meet other moms.) 

You’ll likely have all the tools you need already to provide easy sensory play ideas for your 1 year old.

Here you’ll find plenty to inspire you.  Once you’ve got the gist, I’m sure you’ll find yourself conjuring up even more sensory activities for your 1 year old on the fly.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on one and make a purchase, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

easy sensory activities 1 year olds can do at home

Table of Contents

What sorts of things are 1-year-olds learning & exploring?

1-year-olds are a blank slate. They have much to learn. They’re learning about themselves and the world around them.  They’re exploring colors, shapes, textures and concepts constantly, experimenting and taking it all in. Their little brains are working so hard! 

Here are some specific skills your baby will be learning at a year old:

Fine motor and gross motor skills 

Musical instruments, wooden chunky puzzles, shape sorter toys, and blocks are some fine motor manipulatives that 1-year-olds love to explore. Through playing with these types of toys, your baby is learning the different shapes, spatial relationships, cause-and-effect, problem-solving, and more.

Your child will begin to learn body awareness through gross motor play. Climbing structures, age-appropriate swing/outdoor sets, push-and-pull toys, and water/sensory tables work to develop your child’s gross motor skills.

1-year-olds are learning how to walk, jump, throw, and climb. They’re also learning how to balance.

Language skills

A child’s vocabulary is built primarily through observations and experiences.

Through play, your 1-year-old is learning many new words, and phonetic sounds. They’re also learning about the letters of the alphabet. This comes together nicely to build their literacy skill foundation that will promote their language and speech development.

Cognitive abilities

1-year-olds are beginning to learn problem-solving skills through play and exploration. They’re learning to make connections between objects and experiences.

What are sensory play activities?

Sensory play is the expression and acquisition of knowledge and skills through exploration. Simply and more deliberately put, sensory play activities are focused on a child’s use of their five senses and engages them in learning.

If you’re wondering, what activities can you do with a 1-year-old? How you can stimulate your baby to ensure healthy development? How can you entertain your young toddler all day?

The answer to all of these is sensory play. 

MESS-FREE Sensory Activities for 1-Year-Olds

If you’re looking for a quick sensory activity to set up for your 1-year-old baby at home, this is the place to look first. Clean and dry, these sensory play ideas are a cinch to both prep and tidy up.

diy ball pit sensory activities for 1 year olds

1. DIY Ball Pit

All you need to make a DIY ball pit is a baby pool or large cardboard box and colorful plastic ball pit balls.  And of course your willing 1 year old, who will need no invitation to get involved in this fun sensory activity.

You could facilitate this indoors or outdoors, making it fun for any time of year. You’d be surprised at how many ways your child will engage in this activity, as it is very open-ended.

In the summer months, add water and bubble solution to the colored balls and let your 1 year old enjoy a jacuzzi like experience!

2. Contact paper fun

Tape some contact paper to the table, wall or even a window.  That may be all you need to do!  The stickiness may be all they need for an entertaining and experimental sensory activity.  

You can also provide your 1 year old with different safe objects for further sensory experience.  Furry pipe cleaners, tissue paper, pieces of felt, strips of newspaper… paper or plastic straws. 

See what intrigues and entertains your 1 year old and simply follow their lead. One of mine got such a kick out of sticking his pacifier to the contact paper wall, taking it off, and sticking it on again.

3. Plastic Egg Play

Plastic eggs aren’t just for Easter time. Your child can create egg towers using the plastic eggs in halves. They can scoop them up with kitchen utensils, hide toys inside, rattle them in a closed plastic container, sort by color… a fun activity with endless possibilities.

Easter egg rattles for fun sensory play for 1 year old babies and toddlers

An easy sensory play idea for babies under a year old is to turn plastic eggs into rattles, by filling them with rice or dry pasta.

Related post:  19 Cute & simple Easter activities for babies (sensory, art & more!)

4. Toys & Muffin Tins

Playing with small toys and a muffin tin is a great and easy way to introduce your child to early counting and sorting skills. As they move each toy object from compartment to compartment in the muffin tin, their fine motor skills particularly the pincer grasp, and cognitive abilities are strengthened.

You could also try placing balls into muffin tins for your 1 year old play and experiment with.

5. Tupperware Exploration

Everyone has a dreaded Tupperware drawer, right?! You open it, everything spills out, you can never find the right lid… This will be heaven for a 1 year old – a great sensory activity and opportunity for exploration.

I specifically keep all our plastic containers and lids in a drawer easily accessible to our 1 year old twins.  They have fun emptying it then trying to lid and unlid all the various Tupperware in the drawer nearly every single day, while I’m cooking.  Fun and such a good exercise to strengthen fine motor skills.

texture walk using dried pasta for fun sensory activity

6. Texture Walk On

The sense of touch shouldn’t just be limited to the hands.  Little feet like to explore too!

Provide bins full of different textures and  materials for your 1 year old to walk in, and move to and from.  Of course they may well want to prod and explore with their hands too, but the idea is to provide ways in which they can walk on the different textures.

You could also simply place different textured items on the floor for them to walk over and through, such as bubble wrap, piles of ribbon/paper scraps, aluminum foil, cardboard egg cartons and other household items.

Be sure to tape large slippery items to the floor, for safety.

7. Explore Silicone Kitchen Utensils

Silicon has a lovely soft feel to it which your 1 year old may not be familiar with.  In addition, versus traditional metal ones, silicon utensils are safer and easier for little hands to handle. 

You could also use them to create a scoop-and-pour sensory activity with a sensory bin and water.  They also work well as musical instruments (my children’s preferred method) or why not paint with them.

easy sensory activities for 1 year olds using jingle bells

8. Play With Jingle Bells

Play with jingle bells all year long! Turn on some music and create a dance party with the jingle bells. You could also make a sensory bin or bottle and fill it with jingle bells, or put down a piece of contact paper for your baby to stick the jingle bells on.  Again, be led by your 1 year old.

9. Tissue Paper Ripping

This activity is as simple as it sounds. Simply provide tissue paper in various colors for your child to explore and rip up.

This is a tactile experience and involves three of the five senses: touch, sight, and sound.  Such a simple sensory play activity for babies and young toddlers.

Walking And Crawling On Bubble Wrap for a fun sensory play activity

10. Walking And Crawling On Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is engaging and intriguing for infants. Simply tape bubble wrap to the floor to secure it and then let them follow their curiosities. 

The simple joy of walking and playing with bubble wrap underfoot has become a favorite activity for all 4 of my children.  My elder 2, at 5 and 6, still enjoy this now so it can keep them and their toddler siblings busy for quite some time! 

11. Crinkly Paper Play

This activity is so open-ended. Simply gather various types of crinkly paper, for example large chocolate wrapper, baking parchment, newspaper, aluminum foil and so on. 

The plastic tray inserts from boxes of chocolates make a lovely crinkly sound and are also very robust so can provide a fun sensory activity for many days.

Crinkly paper and other tactile materials are great to include in a busy basket. Simply fill the basket and let your child explore however they choose. 

mirror sensory play for babies up to 1 year olds

12. Mirror Play

Provide a soft tummy time infant mirror or a Montessori mirror for your baby to explore their physical features and the texture of the shiny mirror.  Or you can simply use a full length mirror as long as it’s secure.

If you want to extend play you could turn it into an artistic sensory activity for your 1 year old.  Simply put a couple of drops of paint on the mirror and let your baby experiment with their fingers scribbling and color mixing. 

You can then transfer their “artwork” by pressing a blank piece of paper on their work.

13. Rubber band play

Wrap rubber bands around a plastic bottle and let your 1 year old stretch them and fiddle. They may even try to take them off.  A simple sensory activity that’ll also challenge fine motor skills.

14. Masking Tape Stick And Peel

Provide your 1 year old with pre-cut strips of masking tape while at the high chair or sitting on the floor.  Let your child press tape strips on and remove them over and over. 

Your young toddler might enjoy sticking the tape to various other objects too.  Try a erase board, ball, board book or toy.  Such an easy sensory activity for 1 year olds. 

Recommendation: fold over one side of the tape creating a small tab so it’s easier for your infant to grab and pull to remove. 

touch and feel books for a fun sensory play story time for a baby or toddler

15. Touch and Feel Books

Touch and feel books present the perfect opportunity for on-the-go sensory exploration. They introduce different textures to your baby in a mess-free, low key way, providing an easy sensory activity for your 1-year-old. 

16. Play Silks

Play silks/dance scarves are fun to play with and can also be easily incorporated into other activities  Stuffing them into a tissue box or Oball makes for a fun sensory activity for a 1 year old who will enjoy pulling them out and stuffing it back in.

They’re also a great addition to a dressing up box for the toddler years, to use as capes, wings or a wrap dress for a princess.  With all their different colors, they can also be used to create a huge sea, river or landscape.  The possibilities are endless!

17. Mess free painting

This should be a way to get your little ones artistic creations on record, without any mess! Sounds too good to be true, right? Simply purchase a small canvas, apply blobs of paint and then loosly but securely wrap with plastic wrap.  Then let your 1 year old enjoy this fun mess-free paint sensory activity.

You could also use regular paper taped to a large wooden board or plastic chopping board instead of the canvas.

Pompoms and ice cube trays sensory play activity for 1 year old

18. Pompoms and ice cube trays

Large colored pompoms are fun for young toddlers to play with – just be sure they don’t make it into their mouth.  Your 1 year old will enjoy placing them and moving them around the compartments of ice cube trays.  You can add toddler-friendly fine motor tools for them to use too.

You could also use colored cotton balls.

Sensory Bottle Ideas For 1-Year-Olds

Sensory bottles are a wonderful way for infants to explore smaller items that may pose a choke hazard.  So save those used plastic water bottles, because you’ll be able to put them to good use with these sensory bottle ideas.

Sensory bottles make great DIY sensory toys for taking out and about.  They make a good sensory activity to keep a 1 year old engaged while waiting at the doctors or sat in a high chair at a cafe. 

Just make sure the lid is taped tightly shut so the contents don’t empty into your handbag!

19. Glitter Calm-Down Bottle

To make a glitter bottle, you can keep it simple and just use water, glitter, and drops of food coloring. You could also jazz it up if you want by adding small toys like lego, sequins, beads, craft gems, and more.

If you want to slow down the movement of the bottle’s materials, add glitter glue, glycerin, or gel hand soap to increase the viscosity of the liquid.

christmas themed sensory bottle for babies or toddlers

20. Themed Festive Bottle

Fill a clear plastic bottle with items relating to the current time of year so your child can enjoy seasonal concepts.

For example, you could try jingle bells at Christmas or twinkly lights – pictured above in a giant plastic bottle. Or how about acorns during autumn, seeds during spring, and flowers during summer.  An easy way to provide a themed sensory activity for your baby or toddler.  

Check out more Christmas sensory activities here:  50 Christmas sensory activities & bins for toddlers & preschoolers

21. Rainstick Sensory Bottle

Rainstick sensory bottles are easy and fun to make. Add dry materials such as dry rice, sticks, dry pasta, dried beans, and other materials to create homemade rattle that makes a rain sound.

A rainstick bottle can be used as a DIY musical instrument as your child can shake it to the beat of their favorite songs. This activity presents tactile, auditory, and visual learning.

loom band sensory bottle play for 1 year old

22. Loom band sensory bottle

Loom bands make for a fun filler for a sensory bottle – they float and almost dance around.  Simply add a handful of them to a bottle filled with water.  Then add a few drops of glycerin.

23. Lava Lamp-Style Bottle

Bring some ’90s-era inspiration into your child’s play with a lava lamp. You could make a homemade version (using water, oil, food coloring, and Alka Seltzer tablets), or you could purchase a pre-made lava lamp.

Sensory Bag Ideas For Your 1-Year-Old

Just like sensory bottles, sensory bags allow the exploration of small items that could potentially be dangerous for a baby or young toddler.   They’re also simple to set up and can be used time and time again, just like the bottles.

So grab some resealable plastic bags  and get ready to provide your 1 year old with plenty of easy sensory activities.

water bead sensory bag for babies 12 months old at home

24. Water Beads Sensory Play

Water beads are an exciting new texture for your baby to feel and play with, as long as they’re contained in a securely fastened bag. You can find them on Amazon or at a craft store.

Fill a container with water beads and water and let it sit overnight so the beads soak up all the water.

The next morning, simply place them in a resealable plastic bag, tape to secure and let your child explore. 

25. Mess-Free Bag Painting

Fill a resealable plastic bag with a sheet of paper and some drips of paint. Seal the bag and tape it to a surface for your child to press and manipulate and create their own masterpiece.

This method of painting is great for kids that don’t like to get messy. You’ll appreciate the lack of cleanup too!

26. Window Hair Gel Bag Exploration

This activity is a great, introductory way to expose your baby to colors, which builds the foundation for color identification knowledge later on.

All you need to do is to fill resealable plastic bags with clear hair gel and food coloring.  Make each bag a different color and tape to the window to create a rainbow.

They’re fun to look at and, if you can tape them to a window low down, your 1 year will enjoy the sensory experience of squishing and prodding them.

Other Easy DIY Baby Sensory Toys

Here are some more DIY baby sensory “toys”’ that can be used repeatedly once created. They’re easy and straightforward to make with things you’ll likely have at home already.

Like sensory bottles and bags, plenty of them make for easy sensory activities for young toddlers and babies when you’re on the move and need to keep them entertained.

sock puppets sensory activities for 1 year old baby at home

27. Sock Puppets

Turn socks into fun friends! This is a classic and easy activity. Simply gather a few socks from around the house.

You can use the socks as is, or you can add googly eyes to them to add some extra fun. Use your sock puppets in read-alouds to further engage your child.

28. Wipe Dispenser Sensory Box

Does your baby or toddler think it’s a fun idea to empty the wipe dispenser?  If I accidently leave a box of wipes on the floor, next minute half the wipes are out. All over the place! 

The answer: give them their very own wipe dispenser box filled with things they’re allowed to have and will enjoy playing with.  Think fabric scraps, washcloths, paper scraps. 

You could also use a tissue box to stuff things inside.

A fun sensory play idea for your 1 year old that will also strengthen their fine motor skills.

homemade playdough for a taste safe sensory play for 1 year old

29. Homemade Taste-Safe Playdough

You can easily make edible homemade playdough using 1 cup of frosting and 2 cups of powdered sugar.

Helpful hint: Funfetti frosting comes pre-colored. You could use food coloring with white frosting too.

Playdough is so versatile, and with a recipe this simple you may be able to get your 1 year old involved in this making it too. 

30. Touch And Feel Board

This is a wonderful sensory activity for 1-year-olds. Simply attach multiple materials of different textures to a poster board, and allow your child to touch and explore.

Some examples of materials you could use are paper scraps, wrappers, dried uncooked rice and/or pasta, craft poms, cotton balls, bubble wrap, and more.

DIY busy board at home sensory activities for 1 year old

31. DIY Busy Board

You can make this as complex or as simple as you want. Simply attach multiple buckles, snaps, and locks to a wooden board. 

You could also make a busy board with felt or poster board and glue on lighter items such as velcro strips and shoelaces.

If dad or grandpa is a keen DIYer, this is one for them.

32. DIY Snow Globe

A DIY snow globe is a little like a sensory bottle, with craft and nature items floating around a water, glycerin and glitter mixture. 

However, you can make it more like a shop bought snow globe and glue characters or interesting objects to the lid of a Mason jar, which becomes the base of the snow globe.   

Since the jar is made of glass, this a sensory play activity you’ll have to do together with your 1 year old.  Also, stick to carpeted rooms rather than those with tiles.

bottle top activity to do at home with your 12 month old

33. Bottle Top Posting Tin

All you need for this fun and noisy sensory activity for your 12 month old is a large tin or plastic box and some bottle tops.  

Simply cut a slit in the top of the tin and show your child how to push and drop the bottle tops through the slit.  This is a sensory activity that your 1 year old will love! Young toddlers just love to post things.

An aluminum tin is ideal as it makes the sound louder and more exciting.

Once full, your toddler will probably enjoy shaking the tin or bottle like a maraca and making “music”.

Texture eggs are a great sensory activity for toddlers preschoolers and babies

34. Sensory Balloon Eggs

Sensory balloon eggs provide a fun tactile sensory activity for 12 month olds – all little kids in fact.  Simply fill a balloon with flour and tie the top.  Give it a squeeze and you’ll know why they’re also called DIY stress balls. 

Make a few and experiment with different fillings, like dried corn, rice, beans, oats, beads, sand etc.  Then let your child explore all the different textures.

Sensory balloon eggs are great for baby sensory play but will appeal just as much to older kids. My 5 year old particularly enjoys playing with them. They’re also a great tool for emotional regulation.

Dry Sensory Bin & Tray Ideas For 1-Year-Olds

These dry sensory bin and tray activities for 1-year-olds are so simple while helping to develop your child’s fine motor skills. They’re all quite open-ended, leaving plenty of room for experimentation and make it easy to tailor to your your young toddlers individual interests.

Uncooked colored rice is a fun sensory play for toddlers

35. Rice, Scoops, & Cups

Fill a bin or tub with uncooked rice and provide different types of scoops and cups for your infant to explore. If you want to add an additional visual element, you can dye the rice with food coloring first.

To dye rice simply soak it in water dyed with food coloring overnight.  Or why not use blue food coloring for half the rice and yellow for the other half.  Provide the two colors in separate bins and and allow your 1 year old to mix them together to make green.  

36. Dried Pasta & Ice Cube Trays

Fill an ice cube tray with multiple types of uncooked pasta of various shapes and sizes. You could add in colored pasta too.  Your child will enjoy manipulating the pasta, moving them around and sorting them into different compartments. 

A muffin tin would work just fine, too.

To extend this easy sensory activity, you can also provide your 1 year old with measuring spoons, cups and tongs and other baby-safe kitchen utensils for them to maneuver the pasta with. 

sensory bin using beans, rice and scoops

37. Play with Beans & Pulses

Playing with beans is a fun no-prep sensory play activity for a year old at home.  You can also add some color in by dying them first.  Do dye the beans:

  • place them into a resealable plastic bag
  • add food coloring and a squirt of hand sanitizer
  • shake the bag to mix
  • empty the dyed beans onto a sheet of wax paper or wooden board
  • spreading them out so they can dry
  • once dry, they’re ready for play

Add the colored beans to a sensory bin and watch your child’s eyes light up as they explore.

easy sensory activities for 1 year olds using bottle caps

38. Bottle Tops

Collect bottle tops and caps of different sizes and colors and when you have enough you can provide a cheap, fun and easy sensory activity for your 1 year old.  They can sort them, stack them, shake them around in the bin and simply explore.

You could also provide some large tools, like a wooden spoon or a slotted spoon and some tubs so your toddler can try to move them out of the bin into the tubs, sorting by color or size as they go. Or not sorting at all! Just let them play.  

39. Formula Spoons

Formula spoons are another thing you can accumulate a lot of very quickly.  I have a whole stash of formula spoons I’ve collected over the years.  They’re the ideal size for little hands and safe too, so are ideal to incorporate into sensory activities for 1-year-olds.

cloud dough safe sensory play for babies

40. Cloud Dough

To make cloud dough, all you need is 2 cups cornstarch and 1 cup scented conditioner. Put both ingredients in a bowl and mix with a spoon, then knead with your hands.

Empty into a sensory bin or tray and let your child explore with or without tools. The texture is soft and silky and will be very intriguing for a young toddler.  They may not even need tools, just be led by your child.

Store in an airtight container after play to reuse. .

edible sand using cheerios to make a diy sensory activities for 1 year olds

41. Blended Cheerios (Edible Sand) Sensory Bin

Got a box of Cheerios in the pantry? (I seem to have at least 3 at any one time…)

Grab a box of and crush the Cheerios into a fine powder using a blender. The Cheerio powder will be visually similar to sand, but will be edible too, making this an ideal sensory activity for 1 year olds that like to taste everything.

Place it in a sensory bin and add cars or other toys/tools your child desires. A fun and edible alternative to sand for a sensory bin.

Sensory Water Play Activities For Babies

Water play is so simple and easy to facilitate, while also fully engaging your child in play. These water sensory activities for 1-year-olds will be exciting for little hands to explore.

42. Squeeze Water Out Of A Sponge

This sensory activity is easy to set up and facilitate. Provide a tub of water, or do this activity while in the bathtub.

Give your child some sponges for them to soak up and squeeze the water out of. This strengthens the muscles that will eventually assist them in writing later on.

playing with water can stimulate all senses for a toddler

43. Play With A Water Table

Playing with a water table is as simple as it sounds. Simply pour in some water and let your toddler splash, scoop and pour.  Add a couple of water-friendly toys if you like.

If you don’t have a water table yet for your 1 year old, this is a good time to get one. (Here’s a water table that’ll keep your young toddler busy year after year.)

If not you, a large roasting dish or oven dish on top of a low table or on the floor will also do the job.

To add a visual element to this simple sensory activity, add colored bath tablets or food coloring to the water.

44. Pouring With Water Cups

Pouring is a wonderful action for acquiring and strengthening your child’s fine motor skills. It also works on cognitive skills, such as problem-solving and cause-and-effect. Provide your child with cups at the water table or at bathtime.

Make sure you provide cups that are small enough for your infant’s hands to grasp. A variety of cups would extend their learning (cups with handles, spouts, open cups, etc.)

45. Baby Pipettes

Toddler-sized pipettes make for an exciting addition to water play. You’ll probably need to help them fill the pipette but a 1 year old should be able to squeeze and will love seeing the water squirt out the end.  Squeezing the pipettes is a good fine motor activity , helping to strengthen the muscles in the hands and fingers.

Your child can also paint with pipettes by dripping different colors of paint or watercolors onto a coffee filter or kitchen towel. The colors will spread and merge across this type of paper adding a little artistic excitement to an easy sensory activity.

fun bubble bath sensory activities for babies

46. Bubble Bath

This sensory activity is something you may often do at bathtime already! Kids, big and small, love a bit of bubble bath every now and again.  If we get ahead on our bedtime routine, I like to plan an extended bathtime session and add some bubbles.

My 1 year old twins love it and one of the older kids normally get in too – they don’t fit in all that well if they all get in together now.

You could also add a bath bomb or colored bath tablets , to make it even more fun. They’ll need no encouragement to play with the bubbles!  Embrace your inner child and play with them too.

47. Animal Washing Station

This activity works best at the water table or with a large tub of water outside.  Provide sponges and scrub brushes with animal figurines. You can add soap to the water too and kill two birds with one stone by actually getting some of the toys clean!

Let your child wash the animals with the sponges and brushes you provide. My kids really enjoy this sensory play and love to make all the different animal sounds as they go!

48. Ball Pit Balls

Add ball pit balls to your water table or a tub filled with water. Provide large scoopers or shovels, slotted spoons cups, ladles, and bowls for your child to maneuver the balls with.

You can help them with color recognition by naming the colors of the ball they’re handling.  Your toddler will also start to learn introductory information on sorting by color through this activity.

flower soup sensory play ideas for 1 year olds

49. Flower Soup

Simply make soup with flowers!  This is such a fun outdoor activity for toddlers for the warmer months.

Start by scavenging the garden or park for flowers and plants.  Break off petals and leaves – these are the ingredients for this fun sensory play idea.  Provide your 1 year old with old saucepans and something to stir and mix with.  Little cups, wooden spoons, a funnel, and kitchen utensils would enhance the dramatic play of cooking “soup”.

You could also add glitter to the water if desired. I like to add food coloring to water bottles as additional ingredients too.

Be sure to try their culinary masterpiece when they’re done!  There’s plenty of opportunity for a little tea party after, or soup party, should I say.

50. Citrus Water Play

Fill a tub/bowl/bin with water and slice some fruit, such as lemons, oranges and limes. You could cut them into wedges or wheel slices. Put the fruit in the water and your child can explore using all of their five senses.

51. Painting with water

A large sheet of cardboard, paint-brush and small tub of water is all you need for this fun painting sensory activity for your 1 year old. Simply let your toddler paint with the water.  They may get wet, but won’t end up head to do in sticky colors, like most baby painting activities! 

Edible Sensory Play Activities (Messy!)

Eating AND exploring? What could be better for a young toddler or baby? There will definitely be a mess factor in these edible sensory activities for 1-year-olds at home. But the fun they bring will make it worth the clean up!

Spaghetti Sensory Play

52. Spaghetti Sensory Play

Cooked spaghetti is such a fun texture for your baby to play with. You can choose to dye the spaghetti with food coloring or just leave it as is.  

This spaghetti sensory play activity could be tailored to seasons and holidays by using specific colors and adding relevant toys and items.  I love the spooky eye ball spaghetti sensory bin above, put together for Halloween. 

Whipped Cream sensory play ideas for babies

53. Whipped Cream Painting

There are a couple of options for a whipped cream painting activity. You could paint with it in the bath, to contain the mess.  Start by creating different colors by adding food coloring to whipped cream separated into the different compartments of a muffin tray. Now you have a palette of colors for your 1 year old to paint with. 

Let your child paint the bathtub, their toys.  They’re sure to want to paint themselves too! Painting in the bath makes for such an easy clean-up. Wash everyone and everything down once you’re done.  

Another option is to use the colored whipped cream at the kitchen table or high chair with paper.  

54. Yogurt Painting & Smearing

Yogurt smearing is such an engaging sensory activity for 1-year-olds. Put yogurt on a cookie sheet and let your child go to town smearing it all over the sheet however they wish.  Or if your baby likes to throw everything on the floor, simple add some drops of yogurt to the their high chair table.

You can also add a few drops and swirls of fruit puree.  Add more than one color and flavor to up the visual and taste elements. 

cheerios sorting for a fun and yummy sensory play

55. Fruity Cheerios/Fruit Loops Sorting

You could use any multicolored cereal, food or treat for this sensory activity. Provide different colored cups – a multicolored stacking cup toy set works well for this.  Or you could try with different colored sheets of construction paper.

Work with your child on sorting the cereal by color onto each corresponding colored cup or paper. Try with just two colors at first, and if/when your 1 year old gets the hang of it, add more in.

They may be completely disinterested in the sorting and simply want to pick each one up and drop into any cup.  That’s ok.  Be led by their interests. It’s highly likely they’ll want to eat a few, or all of them, as they go. 

56. Rice Krispies Fun

You can use Rice Krispies as a sensory bin filler, and facilitate a scoop-and-pour activity with your young toddler.  If you have a toy hammer, bashing the Rice Krispies also makes for a fun and destructive sensory activity for toddlers.

You can also try painting with Rice Krispie treats. Dip them into paint, place on paper and have your child stamp and bash them. Or switch out the paint with colored frosting to keep the entire activity edible.

Edible Mud Sensory Bin FOR babies and toddlers

57. Edible Mud Sensory Bin

Here’s a particularly yummy sensory activity for 1 year olds with a sweet tooth.  This is definitely one to do early in the day and not too close to bedtime!

To create an edible mud sensory bin, use chocolate pudding as pretend mud. Add pigs or other farm animals to pretend they’re walloring around in it.

Another easy taste-safe mud recipe consists of 1 container of chocolate frosting and 1 ¼ cup of flour.

58. Oat and Cinnamon Sensory Bin Base

Oats and cinnamon are a lovely sensory bin filler for Fall or for a natural and gorgeous smelling sensory activity. Simply add oats and cinnamon to a bin and add any themed tools or toys you want.

Jello dig sensory play with toys for babies

59. Jello Dig

Make a pan of Jello and add small toys before it sets for your 1 year old to dig out and find. Choose colors and items to match the season or your child’s interests.

Wet TASTE-SAFE Sensory Bin & Tray Ideas for 1-Year-Olds

Here are some more wet and messy (but still easy) sensory activities for 1 year olds, that won’t exactly taste nice, but will be safe when they inevitably try to explore with their tongue or mouth.   

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

60. Ice Cube Play

There are so many more ways to play with ice cubes.Ice cube play is one of my favorite activities for babies and toddlers in the hot summer months.  You’d be amazed how long such a simple material can keep them entertained!

You can simply add ice cubes to a sensory bin and let them enjoy the cold hard sensations. You can  provide squeeze bottles or pipettes filled with warm and/or colored water.  Then help your 12 month old drop or squirt water at the ice cubes and watch them melt.

Real snow sensory bin for 1 year olds

61. Real snow sensory bin

Another cold and fun sensory activity for your 1 year old for the winter months. Collect some real snow and dump in the bin and let your toddler get stuck in.  You’d be surprised how long the snow lasts.  

ice cube sensory play ideas for 1 year olds

You could also freeze colored water with popsicle sticks standing in each compartment of the ice cube tray and create frozen paint sticks – what a cool paint option!  Then your child can “paint” on construction paper or on the patio outside.

62. Play With Pumpkin Innards

Playing with the slimey innards of a pumpkin makes for a fun Fall activity and at-home sensory play idea for your 1-year-old. Once the pumpkin carving fun is finished, don’t throw away the leftover pumpkin parts. Instead, dump the innards and seeds into a sensory bin or large container for your infant to explore. 

My 1 year olds twins loved this easy use sensory activity this year.  However, my older two have now grown out of it. 

“Too gooey” – my 6 year old.  “Disgusting!” – my 5 year old. They didn’t believe me when I said they used to love this very activity. 

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

63. Tapioca Pearls

If you soak tapioca pearls they have a soft and gelatinous consistency.  They’re a baby-safe alternative to water beads since they’re edible.  You can also dye them easily by adding food coloring to the water when you soak them.  

educational activities for 1 2 year olds

64. Aquafaba Foam

If you love making homemade humous, then this easy sensory activity makes use of the drained chickpea water.  Simply beat it with an electric whisk until it’s thick and foamy.  You can color it easily by adding a drop of food coloring.  

More Easy Sensory Play Activities Inc. Some Wet & Messy Ones

Bring on the messy fun! Here are some more 1-year-old sensory play ideas that will surely excite your child, and definitely require cleanup.

65. Finger Paint

For this activity, you’ll need paper, baby-safe paint and a smock. Use as few or as many colors as you want. Let your child paint “pictures”, experiment and explore in an open-ended way.

You could also have your 1 year old finger paint onto canvas to experience a different texture.  Fingers crossed you’ll have something to treasure forever at the end!  

foot print sensory activity for babies and toddlers

66. Foot Painting

This activity is parent-led, but will feel so interesting on your toddlers foot. Cover the sole of your baby’s foot in paint, and press their painted foot on the paper.

There are loads of different footprint art options, but they can prove a challenge!  Rather tape a large sheet of paper or even newspaper to the floor and let them stamp their feet and walk all over it.  They’ll love watching their footprints emerge. 

You may even be able to rescue a few clean prints and keep them as a momento or try a footprint animal craft.

67. Play With Oobleck

To make oobleck, mix 2 cups of cornstarch with 1 cup of water.  Add food coloring if you want colored oobleck it.

Start by mixing the water and food coloring together, then add the cornstarch little by little and stir until mixed. Add the oobleck to a tub or bowl for your child to play with.

You can then add additional items if you want or just leave it as is. Your 1 year old toddler is sure to enjoy this sticky, pliable substance either way. It makes for such fun messy sensory play. 

playing with real mud also benefits the babies and boost their immune system.

68. Playing with Real Mud

Time to get messy! This sensory activity uses mud – there’s nothing better than good clean mud to keep a baby or toddler content.  It can also boost their immune system .

You could have your child play outside in the mud after it rains, or bring the mud inside and put it in a tub. You can also provide tools for your child to explore the mud with.

Don’t forget to have towels on hand or fill the paddling pool or bath for after.

69. Bathtub Painting

For bathtub painting you can either buy premade bath paint or make your own. To make your own, mix equal amounts of cornstarch and water. Add food coloring to color it.

Use an ice cube tray or muffin pan to keep the different colored paints separate.

bubble foam sensory play ideas for 1 year olds

70. Bubble Foam

Bubble foam is such a fun sensory play activity for babies and toddler. To create bubble foam, you’ll need:

  • tear-free bubble bath
  • food coloring

Mix 2 parts water to 1 part bubble bath in a large bowl and beat vigorously with a whisk.  I’d definitely recommend an electric whisk.

You can just use one color or make make multiple batches in different colors and create rainbow bubble foam.

Then simply add to a sensory bin.  Tip: an under-the-bed storage tub provides plenty of space to play.

71. Eggshell Cracking

If you’re a lover of boiled eggs, your toddler may well have watched you crack the top with a teaspoon.  For another easy at home sensory activity with your 1 year old, save some eggshells, turn them upside down. Then place them back into the egg cups for your young toddler to have a go at cracking.  

egg cracking activities for toddlers

My eldest daughter loved this – look at that concentration!

Other Easy Sensory Activities For 1-Year-Old Baby At Home

These easy activities are the best of the rest when it comes to easy sensory play activities for 1-year-olds at home.

72. Discovery Box or Basket

Put together a “discovery box” or basket simply by filling a box or basket with an assortment of similar items.

For example: different textures of balls, kitchen utensils, animal figurines, finger puppets, or anything else you have on hand.

vegetable peel play to exploring different textures, colors and smells.

73. Vegetable Peel Play

This simple activity uses leftover carrot peels and those from other vegetables as a sensory bin filler. Give your child a wooden spoon and bowl or tub of the vegetable peels.

They can engage in dramatic play (pretending to cook) while also exploring the different textures, colors and smells.

exploring the garden or park to stimulate all senses

74. Explore The Garden Or Park

The garden or park and anywhere outside is full of so many sensory opportunities and experiences for a 1 year old to enjoy.  Take them outside to explore and learn about the world around them.  

Sometimes, the simplest activities can be the most engaging.

Simply let your toddler follow their curiosities, point at, touch, smell and listen as they please.  This is yet another simple sensory activity that helps cognitive development in young children.  

75. Crunch Through Leaves Or Fallen Seeds

Go on a nature walk to explore fallen leaves and seeds. Emphasize the sound of the crunch of the leaves as you walk through them to make it even more exciting!

You could also collect some dried leaves and add them to a sensory bin for a Fall themed sensory activity for your 1 year old.

Rolling Pin Play to explore different textures and sounds

76. Rolling Pin Play

Fill plastic reusable bags with various textured items, such as dried pasta or uncooked rice. Give your child a rolling pin and let them roll over the different bags of materials to explore the textures and different sounds each one makes.  

Tape the bags to the play surface to keep them from sliding and slipping.

Sensory Toys & Accessories To Invest In For Years Of Sensory Play & Activities To Come

Having a few sensory play staples to hand will be helpful to facilitate activities at home.  All of the below can be used for 12 month old sensory activities but will be used frequently through the toddler and preschooler years too.  

Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Toddler Water Table, Outdoor Kids Water Sensory Table, Ages 1.5+ Years Old, 13 Piece Water Toy Accessories, Blue & Green

Water Table

A water table provides a designated space for water sensory activities for 1 year old babies at home. There’s a lot of choice and variety in size, price point and other functionalities.   You can find different types, sizes, and price points. This water table is one of our favorites. 

Toddler Sensory Kids Table with Lid | Sensory Bin | Kidoozie | Mega Block Compatible Lid | Indoor Outdoor Use , Red, G02521 17 x 12.5 x 11 inches

Sensory Play Table

A sensory table normally has two compartments so you can use two different materials at once.  It’s common to put water in one side and sand in the other but there’s so much more than you can do.

I like to put a different filler each with a specific theme, material or texture. I then let the kids play with them for a week or so before switiching the contents.  

Pint-Size Scholars Rainbow Eye Droppers - Set of 6 Plastic Pipettes Educational Toy for Toddlers - Great as a Science Learning Tool, Kitchen Helping Accessory, and for Other Home Activities

Pipette Set

Toddler-sized pipettes can be used in so many different activities and have been mentioned a few times in this sensory play post.  Fill them with liquid watercolor and have your child drip and squeeze drops of paint onto a coffee filter to create beautiful art.

You can also fill pipettes with water and let your child play with them at their water table or with a sensory bin. These jumbo-size pipettes are ideal for little hands to grasp.

ZMLM Baby Tummy-Time Water Mat: Infant Baby Toy Gift Activity Play Mat Inflatable Sensory Playmat Babies Belly Time Pat Indoor Small Pad for 3 6 9 12 Month Newborn Boy Girl Toddler Fun Christmas Game

Sensory Water Play Mat

Water play mats are mess-free and great for tummy time infant exploration. Water play mats are appealing and exciting for your child throughout their development. They will likely still be asking to play with it well into toddlerhood.

Tips For Doing Sensory Activities With Your 1-Year-Old At Home

Let your toddler lead the play.

There’s no right or wrong way to play. Your 1 year old will gather more knowledge and have more valuable play experiences when allowed to follow their curiosities and interests.

Go big with protection!

For wet and messy sensory activities at home, protect an area much bigger than you intend to use. This makes for easier and quicker cleanup.

Don’t lose heart

Not every sensory activity will be a win.  If it doesn’t engage your toddler the way you’d hoped, don’t lose heart. Simply try it another time or move on altogther.   

Similarly, some sensory activities may keep your 1-year-old engaged for ages, some may not. It really doesn’t matter, just go with the flow.

Set boundaries

Set some boundaries and give frequent reminders.  Be gentle, yet firm. Your young toddler may not understand you fully, but it’s easier to start these things earlier!

Encourage language development

Make verbal observations and ask your child open-ended questions during the sensory play activities, whether they respond or not.  Simply narrating your 1-year-old’s actions will help increase their vocabulary and build their inner monologue.

Supervise your child at all times.

Be particularly cautious about which sensory materials you use, especially if they’re going through a phase of wanting to put everything in their mouth.

Enjoyed This List of Sensory Activities for 1-Year-Olds to Explore At-Home?

These fun baby and toddler activities will hopefully help you feel more equipped to facilitate sensory play with your little one at home. When in doubt, simplify.  Your child will have fun no matter what!

You deserve to have fun, too, so try not to stress too much. The more you experiment with sensory play, the more you’ll find yourself coming up with your own ideas.

Happy exploring!

Looking for Ideas to keep you toddlers busy at home? Check these out:

FAQS on sensory activities for 1 year olds

How can i stimulate my 1-year-old baby.

There are many ways to stimulate your baby, and most will have a sensory element to them. Sensory play activities test and strengthen cognitive skills, aiding brain development.  By exploring new textures, colors and materials and experimenting with different concepts, such as cause and effect, your 1 year old will be acquiring valuable new knowledge.

All you need to do is to provide a few materials and tools and your baby will do the rest. You’ll be swamped with ideas for fun and easy DIY sensory activities for your 1 year old by the end of this post!

sensory play for toddlers

What are the benefits of sensory play activities?

Sensory play benefits are multifaceted.  These types of activities primarily work to develop language, motor skills, and cognitive growth which will benefit your child in all developmental areas and phases of life.

Sensory play also assists in emotional regulation as it provides an outlet for expression.

Providing sensory activities for your 12 month old or young toddler is also such a lovely way to spend time with them.  Watching their budding curiosity and seeing them learn is such a joy!

Get your camera ready and don’t forget to take some video as well as pictures.

When to start baby sensory activities?

You can start sensory activities with your infant as early as you’re able to. In the early days you’ll be limited by the endless feeding, naps and diaper changes and doing anything extra will be the last thing on your mind. Of course all of these tasks will provide lots of sensory stimulation anyway. 

But once your baby is more alert and active you can start with other types of sensory input.  Simple things like looking at a book with high contrasting pictures. Watch those baby cues, in particular overtiredness , and be sure not to overstimulate baby.

I began more structured “sensory activities” with my children once they could easily participate in tummy time.  The ability to sit up without support for an extended period of time opens up the door to a load more easy sensory activities.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover how much your infant is capable of.

Related post: 33 Easy & engaging activities for 10 month olds

benefits of sensory play for 1 year olds

What do you need for 12-month-old sensory activities?

Most things you’ll need to do sensory activities with your 1-year-old, you’ll likely already have at home.  Dive into your kitchen cupboards and you’ll find things like food coloring, silicon tools and utensils, uncooked rice, dried or cooked pasta, aluminum foil, tubs of various sizes. 

Flour is also a valuable resource for DIY sensory activities for 1 year olds.  You can use it alone but also to make play dough, edible mud, cloud dough and so on.

Then there are other things you’ll likely have elsewhere at home, such as ribbon, felt, bubble wrap, cardboard boxes, tissue paper….

There are a few materials and products you may with to invest in (affiliate links to these are included when and where relevant.)

My favorite easy and inexpensive way to build a sensory activity stash is by going to the dollar store or the dollar section at a grocery or craft store to stock up on various materials.

Useful stuff? Want to save it for later?  Want to share with other moms? Click above or pin this image:

feature image for sensory activities for 1 year olds

Got any comments or questions?

I’d love to here from you.  (Your email address will not be published.)

Or contact me direct at [email protected]

Want to dig a little deeper? Check out these other related posts:

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A little about me.

Mom of 4 kids, baby sleep expert plus home organisation and kids activities and crafts

Hi, I'm Sarah

Mom of four outrageously gorgeous Littles.  Yup, four!  The twins are now two and that title still brings me out in a cold sweat… Yet I’m just as determined to give them the best without losing my mind.  I reckon it’s possible!  Most days.  

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Toddler Program

(1-2 years old)

They’re on the move! We have a safe (and fun!) environment for toddlers to explore.

Health and Safety

We build warm, welcoming, and supportive classrooms for children of all abilities, backgrounds, and experiences.

Explore the toddler classroom

Take a look at how we set up our classroom for busy toddlers. It’s organized for their age and stage of learning and development.


Kids eye level

There’s something special about the toddler classroom: Everything is kid-size! We put books and toys within easy reach of little hands. Instead of waiting for an adult to bring a book over, kids can kick off story time all on their own.

Photos and labels

In our classrooms, photos and visual cues are everywhere. We always hang pictures of our children’s families to help build our sense of community. Labels—especially visual ones—help your toddler navigate the room and the day in a safe and confident way.

Inside a toddler’s day

Our caring teachers set a daily rhythm for toddlers that includes group time, story time, outdoor play, meals and snacks, naps, and most especially, lots of playtime (because we know so much learning happens when they play with attentive teachers nearby). View an example daily schedule .

Daily Sample Schedule

Group time happens every day in each of our classrooms. For toddlers, it’s their time to come together as a community, talk about the day, and hear a read-aloud.

KinderCare Nutrition

Meals and snacks

Every day, toddlers sit down to a meal with healthy fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. We never serve juice or fried foods!


Outdoor playtime

Our classes spend 20–30 minutes outside at least twice a day, weather permitting. Outdoor playtime is big-time fun for busy toddlers, as they build on their ever-growing physical skills.


Toddler curriculum

Making art, stacking blocks, reading books—no matter what your toddler loves to do or where they are developmentally, we’ll help them explore their interests (and find new ones!) as they play and learn.

Building brain power and strong bodies

Activities like sorting, counting, and measuring things help budding brains grasp science and math concepts. We build their focus and memory with simple daily routines. Teachers also support physical skills like learning to walk or roll a ball.

Learning about feelings and how we express them

At this age, relationships with classmates and teachers begin to form. We use social and emotional skill-building tools like feelings magnets and puppets to help them learn about their own feelings, and notice the feelings of others.

Talking more and more

Toddlers build their vocabulary one or two words at a time by pointing to things and expressing needs. They also engage in prewriting and prereading by scribbling on paper and turning pages in books.

Expressing themselves

Creatively, toddlers express themselves with mediums like clay, and movement and dance to simple children’s songs.

Toddler classroom activities

Every day, our creative teachers guide toddlers through fun activities that are just right for their age. Here are just a few examples!

Homes for Animals

Kids create homes and habitats for stuffed animals with blocks. This helps them practice building, problem-solving, and playing pretend.

Kids take toy cars dipped in non-toxic paint and roll them over paper to create different patterns and textures.

Digging in the Dirt

Getting a little messy means learning is happening! Kids use garden tools to dig in soil and explore seeds, plants, and flowers.

How to enroll

We’ve gathered all the resources you need to help you make a confident decision to join the KinderCare family.

  • Know what to look for in a child care center and tour ours!
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educational activities for 1 2 year olds

15 Activities for One Year Olds That Are Exciting & Educational

From the moment your child turns one, they become a more amazing little person every day! They begin to mimic, explore, and communicate. Their personalities emerge, and they gain the constant urge to try new things. This creates the perfect opportunity to help them learn!

For the parents looking for some beneficial activities for one year olds that are both fun and educational, we have you covered with these ideas for the youngest toddlers.

Top Things to Do With One Year Olds to Keep Their Development on Track

Every child learns through observation and play . This makes these interactions extremely important. When it comes to one-year-old activities, there are a few milestones to keep in mind. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top developmental markers  that children should achieve between the ages of one and two include:

  • Searching for things they see you hide (12 months)
  • Stacking small objects (15 months)
  • Clapping when excited (15 months)
  • Playing with toys in simple ways (18 months)
  • Scribbling (18 months)
  • Copying things you do (18 months)
  • Looking at book pages (18 months)
  • Climbing on low objects (18 months)
  • Playing with multiple toys at once (2 years)
  • Kicking balls (2 years)
  • Running (2 years) 

Since these are all skills that health experts expect children to be able to do at these specific ages, they can serve as the perfect inspiration for activities to do with one-year-old kids! 

Meet Milestones With These Fun Activities for One Year Olds 

Now that you know what to work on and when, we break down the best activities for one-year-old toddlers to help them learn and grow. 

Stacking is a simple activity that can bring hours of fun! Parents can start with basic stacking cups and work their way up to building blocks. This helps with both fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It also facilitates creative play.

Helpful Hack As your child becomes more skilled at this activity, you can start to give them more difficult items to pile up. Stacking rocks for toddlers are an excellent challenge for little hands that can test their dexterity and build up their patience.

Splishing and splashing may not seem like a learning opportunity, but sensory water play has so many benefits! Not only is it calming, but it also helps your child make sense of this big, beautiful world.

Unlike on solid ground, water brings additional obstacles. Pouring, lifting, sifting, and balancing in and on water can all hone your child's dexterity and fine motor skills, as well as aid in their language development. 

Need to Know Water play can happen in the tub, a mini pool, a water table, or even in the kitchen sink! Just make sure to supervise this activity so that your child stays safe.

Color Matching

As mentioned above, one of the first milestones to work on after your child's first birthday is searching! This makes color sorting a great introduction to this concept. Start with three colored cups and three grippable objects for each of the chosen shades. Then, start sorting — hold a green object over the green cup, say "green goes in," and then drop it! 

This should trigger them to look in the cup. Repeat with the two other green objects, allowing them to search each time. Then, move to the next color until you run out of objects and cups to fill. Over time, this basic game will help them learn colors and associate the various shades with the words that represent them.

Everyone has a few spare dry noodles lying around! And if you don't, you can buy a bunch for less than five bucks. This one-year-old activity essentially lets your little one play chef for a day. First, grab some big bow ties, a pile of penne, a handful of rotelles, and whatever other large pasta noodles you fancy. Then, snag a few clear plastic Solo cups, some plastic Tupperware, wooden spoons and other large plastic kitchen utensils, as well as a large (unbreakable) mixing bowl. 

Put each type of noodle in a different cup and then ask your child to pour, mix, scoop, and transfer the noodles between the different containers that you have provided. This is another easy way to work on their fine motor skills and build their vocabulary. It can be a fantastic tool for pretend play as well! To make this happen, have them serve everyone their creation and let each person pretend to eat their food. 

Need to Know First, this activity does require supervision. Second, to enhance this experience, you can purchase colored noodles to use as another form of color-matching play. Finally, as your toddler's dexterity improves, give them a challenge! Tongs are an easy way to elevate this task and further their progress.

This is another searching game that young toddlers absolutely love. Start with your hands and then upgrade to blankets and other objects to hide yourself and reappear. You'll be surprised at how much fun you actually have while playing this silly game with your toddler!

Sensory Bins

Another opportunity for scooping, pouring, sifting, and exploring is a sensory bin. For those who don't know, these are containers that hold items with varying textures to stimulate your child's senses and allow them to explore in their own unique way. They are easy to make at home and can serve as another amazing learning space for little ones of varying ages.

Just make sure to supervise this type of activity to ensure that objects stay in the bin and don't make it into your little one's mouth!

Looking through picture books is another simple activity for one year olds that has many benefits. It introduces new vocabulary and gives them the opportunity to mimic sounds and expressions. It also improves their listening skills, bolsters their ability to focus for longer periods of time, and it can be a great bonding experience. 

Quick Tip If you want to elevate this experience, make it sensory! Buy simple textured board books for your toddler to touch while you read. Then, ask them questions, like "is the kitty soft?", as they pet the faux fur in the book. Even if they can't respond, this can help them with their language acquisition and keep them engaged for longer periods of time.

Musical Fun

Music is another calming activity that will not only build your child's language skills, but it can also help with coordination. How, you may ask? Dancing, of course! It may seem silly, but turn on some fun nursery rhymes, get down on your toddler's level, and have a mini dance party. Clap your hands, sway back and forth, and move to the music!

You can also give them small scarves to wave around, blow up some balloons to toss about, and blow some bubbles to motivate them to move. Parents can also invest in toy instruments like maracas, hand shakers, xylophones, and bells to introduce different sounds and rhythms and let their toddlers show off their creative side.

Sweeping Fun

One of the best Montessori activities for one year olds is sweeping! This is a skill that requires concentration and coordination. It is also something that we all have to do in our lives, so why not introduce it now? All you need is some painter's tape, a toddler sized broom, and something to sweep up!

Using the painter's tape, create large shapes on your floor, like triangles or squares. Then, sprinkle your fake leaves, cheerios, or colorful pom-poms on the ground outside of your shapes. Finally, instruct your tot to sweep the items into the spaces you have created. 

Go, Go, Go...Stop!

Coloring is another perfect activity for one year olds to build their fine motor skills, but did you know that it can also teach them the meaning of the words like "stop" and "go"? This easy activity was a game changer for getting my son's attention in different scenarios, like running out the door and dropping food on the floor.

All you have to do is get your kiddo scribbling and you do the same. As your hands move, repeat the phrase "go, go, go, go." When it is time to pause, yell "stop!" and immediately freeze. Your toddler will quickly join in on the fun, not realizing that they are learning the meanings of these important action words.

Water Painting

Is there anything better than a canvas that can be used over and over again? For this one-year-old activity, all you need is a bucket of water, some large paint brushes and sponges, and a bit of pavement on a warm, sunny day.

Then, let your little one show off their inner Picasso! They can color as they see fit and the sun will clear their canvas as they go, making room for more creativity.

Soccer Practice

Are you looking for things to do with one year olds that are fun for you as well? Running and kicking are both big goals for your child's second birthday and soccer is a fun way to build these skills.

Grab a ball and gently kick it back and forth with your significant other while your child is watching. Then, kick it their way and see what they do! As they get better at this, consider investing in a soccer net  or regularly visiting a local park. This can improve their foot control, concentration, and decision-making skills.

Ball Pit Fun

For the little ones who are less mobile around their first birthday, a ball bit is another fun option! All you need is a bunch of balls and a blow-up mini pool. Once assembled, plop them inside and watch them explore the space.

This can help with hand-eye coordination and balance. It is also another calming exercise and it can serve as one more spectacular way to introduce colors. 

Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are excellent ways to improve your toddler's coordination, balance, spatial awareness, and other gross motor skills. Parents can easily craft a course with cardboard boxes, pillows, pop up crawl tunnels, stepping stones, and other items they may have lying around the house.

Challenge your toddler to a race and see who can make it to the finish line. No matter who wins, everyone is guaranteed to be giggling!

Just because the milestone involves playing with toys in simple ways doesn't mean that you can't bring a little excitement to the activity! For this game, grab a cardboard box and flatten it out (or a long piece of plywood), snag an ottoman or another box, and make a simple ramp.

Then, grab some cars and let the races begin! This one-year-old activity introduces cause and effect, gives them opportunities to practice walking and running to retrieve their car, and it is just downright fun.

Find Things to Do With One Year Olds While Doing Daily Tasks

These are just a few of the beneficial activities for one year olds that parents can try! Since toddlers love to mimic and help with daily tasks, get them involved in your day-to-day activities as well.

Hand them items as you grocery shop and then bring them in the house when you get home. Have them participate in cleaning up their toys. And let them pick out clothes and put their dirties in the hamper. These tasks not only make them feel valuable, but they are also important life skills that they need to learn for the near future!

young boy playing with 1 year old sibling

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The 7 Best Apps for Toddlers of 2024

The best educational and entertaining apps for toddlers

Finding just the right app for your toddler is tricky: Toddlers are naturally curious and want to learn, but their attention spans are generally too short for formal education. They need a lot of play mixed in, including games, puzzles, and activities, because play is one of the primary ways toddlers learn about the world around them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) feels so strongly about the link between play and child development that it recommends pediatricians write a “prescription for play” at well-child visits for kids up to age 2. The best apps for toddlers seamlessly combine simple, interactive playtime with subtle opportunities for learning. We've rounded up the best apps for toddlers that are affordable, created for little hands, and offer the perfect blend of learning and play.

Best Apps for Toddlers of 2024

  • Best for Parental Monitoring: Bark
  • Most Comprehensive: ABCmouse
  • Best Free Apps: PBS Kids
  • Best Educational: Monkey Preschool Lunchbox
  • Best on iPad: Toca Boca
  • Best on Android: Balloon Pop
  • Best Role-Playing: Toca Doctor
  • Our Top Picks
  • Monkey Preschool Lunchbox
  • Balloon Pop
  • Toca Doctor
  • See More (4)

Final Verdict

  • Compare Apps


Best for parental monitoring : bark.

Courtesy of Bark

  • Price: $14/month
  • Ages: All ages
  • iOS/ Android: Both

The Bark app offers parent alerts for both security threats and screen time limits. These aid in ensuring healthy and safe device usage. 

Set screen time limits

Restrict inappropriate apps and websites

Get parental alerts for cyberbullying and online predators

Monitor device's location

App can be easily deleted by the child

Alerts are delayed

Requires a sizeable amount of storage space

With Bark’s settings and parent alerts, users can have peace knowing that their child’s devices are safe. Bark monitors texts, email, YouTube content, websites, search history, social media, and apps. It has alerts for screen usage, cyberbullying, potential predators, and many other safety threats. Bark also offers resources and professional recommendations to parents when security issues arise. 

The Bark alerts help save its users time. There is no longer the need to personally monitor or comb through your child’s texts and other activity. The app’s dashboard gives parents an overall view of their child’s internet usage. Its reports detail which sites they frequent, if there are any security threats, how much time they spend in each app, and conversations across all apps. 

The best perk of the Bark app is the peace of mind it offers parents. The screen time limits and security features promote a healthier relationship with the phone or tablet.

Most Comprehensive : ABCmouse

  • Price: $13 per month
  • iOS/Android: Both

As a comprehensive learning program, ABCmouse can supplement your child’s preschool education or help them learn important skills from home.

Multiple learning tracks for math, reading, art, and more

Ticket reward system lets kids “buy” virtual prizes

Can be customized for your child’s age and skill level

Recurring monthly investment

Some kids may not be challenged enough by the content

ABCmouse, an educational app with a subscription-based service, gets our vote for the best overall app for toddlers. Although it isn't free, it certainly goes the distance if you're looking for a great educational app for young children. It begins in a virtual classroom where kids can select from several different adventures. There are many to choose from, and they teach reading, math, coloring, counting, and music skills.

ABCmouse allows you to add your child's age in the settings so it can create a customized experience for kids from as young as 2 through age 8. Although it is our pick for best app for toddlers, ABCmouse is also an excellent choice for older kids, who can enjoy learning and play on the app for several years.

If you have lots of little ones, you can add up to three siblings to your subscription for the same monthly fee. It's easy to switch between users so all your kids can get in on the action with activities appropriate for their age and learning level. The content gets more difficult as your child enters school and progresses through the early elementary grades. ABCmouse has lots of fun rewards, too.

Best Free Apps : PBS Kids

  • Price: Free

Free, fun, and full of your kid’s favorite characters, the PBS Kids apps offers games, videos, and other cool content for kids ages 2 to 8.

Familiar, toddler-favorite characters

Kids play within the worlds of favorite TV shows

Watch PBS Kids shows without a television

Games are only somewhat educational

Only select shows are available in full or for download

Who doesn't love PBS? It's been a staple in child entertainment and learning for decades, from "Sesame Street" to "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood"—and it's still going strong today. With the free PBS Kids Video and PBS Kids Games apps, your kids can play games and watch videos based on today's most popular PBS shows, like "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" and "The Cat in the Hat." Suitable for kids as young as 2 years old, the PBS Kids apps have something for everyone, teaching early science and math skills in fun and full-color games.

Best Educational : Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

 Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

  • Price: $2–$5

Preschoolers can build basic skills with seven easy-to-navigate games centered on letters, shapes, colors, and more.

Made for preschoolers to use without a parent

Reinforces toddler-friendly skills like matching and counting

Sticker rewards to track your child’s progress

May be too simplistic or repetitive for your child

Some users dislike the sound effects

Your toddler won't even realize they're learning when you download the fun toddler app Monkey Preschool Lunchbox. Little ones will learn colors, shapes, and counting in an effortlessly fun interface led by the adorably lovable monkey, Milo. Each activity that's successfully completed comes with an immediate reward: Your toddler can choose a digital sticker to add to their collection.

Best on iPad : Toca Boca

  • Price: Free to $4
  • Ages: 4+

The Toca Boca suite of apps for kids is an interactive way to explore the world by cooking, cutting hair, building a neighborhood, and taking care of pets.

Dozens of games to choose, including some free

Some games can be purchased as a bundle for discounted pricing

Games for beginners, animal lovers, budding engineers, and more

Some games are not as interesting or appealing as others

Hard to know which game your child will like until you try it

Toca Boca has become one of the most popular brands for apps for young children. With its fun, engaging suite of apps, full of bright colors and great sounds, Toca Boca brings to life a host of activities like cooking, taking care of pets and sick patients, hairstyling, and even chemistry. For the youngest set, try a role-playing app like Toca Doctor (more on this one below) or a simple app like hairstyling (kids can’t get enough of the hairdryer). And as they grow, your kids can design and build their own city with the Toca Life apps.

Best on Android : Balloon Pop

Courtesy of Google Play Store

  • Ages: Not indicated
  • iOS/Android: Both (works better on Android)

The concept is simple but compelling, offering gameplay that’s educational or just for fun.

Different game modes for education, like letters and numbers

Can be played just for fun to keep your child busy

Easy for even little hands to play

Can get boring or repetitive after a while

Free for basic play, but more levels requires in-app purchases

This free app is part of a group of apps from App Family. Available on the Android platform, they're fun for various ages. The puzzles make a great choice for older kids, while toddlers will be instantly drawn to the game, which allows them to pop balloons as they rise from the bottom of the screen to the top. It's simple enough for even the youngest players to grasp, and it's also fully customizable. Change the size of the balloons and the speed at which they move, making it easier for beginners and more challenging as your child masters the game.

Best Role-Playing : Toca Doctor

 Toca Doctor

  • Ages: 3+
  • iOS/Android: iOS 

Kids love to play pretend doctor, but you don’t have to be their volunteer patient anymore; puzzles and silly animations encourage them to test their medical skills on the app instead of you.

Includes interesting graphics of the human body for anatomy learning

Physics-focused “mini games”

Teaches basic skills but also encourages empathy and critical thinking

Best for 3-year olds; may not hold an older child’s attention

Once you’ve played all the levels, there’s no way to advance or do more

Spark your toddler’s empathy or pave the way for a future in medicine with the Toca Doctor app. Part of the popular suite of Toca Boca apps, this full-color app boasts several educational games for toddlers set against a medical theme. This is one of the most simple Toca apps, suitable for kids as young as 3. Kids can cover boo-boos of different sizes with bandages, “erase” scratches with cotton balls, brush teeth to chase away germs, or squirt eye drops into eyes. This game will keep your little ones occupied for more than a few minutes!

If you’re hoping to use an app for educational advancement, ABCmouse.com is worth the monthly investment. Its 850 lessons for kids from pre-K through second grade help little ones master math, phonics, science, social studies, and reading skills through fun, interactive games. If you're looking for peace of mind when monitoring your child's screen time, Bark is a great choice.

Compare the Best Apps for Toddlers

Frequently asked questions, how much screen time should toddlers have.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies younger than 18 months have no screen time at all. Toddlers 18 to 24 months old can start to enjoy some high-quality programming and apps alongside a parent or caregiver. Kids 2 to 3 years old should get no more than one hour of screen time a day.

It’s also a good idea to establish screen time limits when your child is a toddler. Doing so will make these guidelines easier to enforce as they get older. Also, try to keep bedrooms and mealtimes screen-free for all, and schedule lots of non-screen activities into your toddler’s day.

What Are Some Pros and Cons of Apps for Toddlers?

High-quality, interactive, and age-appropriate apps for toddlers can help them learn and expand their cognitive skills and develop their technical and media literacy. If you and your toddler play with apps together, it also can strengthen your parent-child relationship.

However, children learn best from interacting with others, so too much screen time may be detrimental to their social and emotional development. If you give your child an iPad or phone when they’re bored, upset, or frustrated, they’re missing opportunities to develop important self-regulation and problem-solving skills .

How Can I Keep My Toddler Safe While Using an App?

Parent monitoring apps are a great way to prevent your child from accidentally stumbling onto unsafe or explicit content. They also provide parents with a snapshot of their child’s usage. Organizations such as Common Sense Media rate and recommend apps for their age appropriateness and educational value. However, the best form of parental control is you.

Set clear boundaries with your child, and have frequent conversations about how they spend their time in an app. A combination of modeling healthy device use and parental monitoring apps is a great way to ensure the safety of your child.

What Are Good Apps for 1- and 2-Year-Olds?

Many apps for toddlers feature age ranges beginning at age 2. Activities can include learning experiences for topics like coloring, counting, music, letters, shapes, and even early skills for science and math. ABCmouse.com, PBS Kids, and Monkey Preschool Lunchbox all offer options for young toddlers to play while learning age-appropriate skills and concepts.

When rounding up the best apps for toddlers, we searched for apps that catered to the 2- to 4-year-old set; while some of these apps can be used by older kids, we sought out apps that didn’t require a lot of reading or even dexterity (since toddlers are still building those skills). We also looked for apps that encouraged learning alongside play, whether it was colors and numbers, pre-literacy, role play, or motor skills.

Verywell / Designed by Amelia Manley 

Yogman M, Garner A, Hutchinson J, et al. The power of play: a pediatric role in enhancing development in young children . Pediatrics . 2018;142(3):e20182058. doi:10.1542/peds.2018-2058

American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media. Media and young minds . Pediatrics . 2016;138(5):e20162591. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-2591

Canadian Paediatric Society, Digital Health Task Force, Ottawa, Ontario. Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world . Paediatr Child Health . 2017;22(8):461-477. doi:10.1093/pch/pxx123

By Sarah Bradley Sarah Bradley has been writing parenting content since 2017, after her third son was born. Since then, she has expanded her expertise to write about pregnancy and postpartum, childhood ages and stages, and general health conditions, including commerce articles for health products. Because she has been homeschooling her sons for seven years, she is also frequently asked to share homeschooling tips, tricks, and advice for parenting sites.

Appointments at Mayo Clinic

  • Weight loss

Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour

Being active can help you lose weight and keep it off. Find out how much you need.

Being active is vital to losing weight and keeping it off. When active, the body uses more energy in the form of calories. And burning more calories than you take in leads to weight loss.

To lose weight, most people need to cut the number of calories they eat and move more. This is according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Most often, that means cutting daily calories by 500 to 750 to lose 1 1/2 pounds (0.7 kilograms) a week.

Other factors might be involved in losing weight. Because of changes to the body over time, you might need to cut calories more as you age to keep losing weight or to stay at the same weight.

Diet or exercise: Does one matter more?

Both are important. Diet affects weight loss more than physical activity does. Physical activity, including exercise, has a stronger effect in keeping weight from coming back after weight loss.

Losing weight with diet alone and without physical activity can make people weaker. This is because of age-related losses in bone density and muscle mass. Adding resistance training and aerobic exercise to a weight-loss program helps prevent the loss of bone and muscle.

These are the exercise guidelines for most healthy adults from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Or get 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. You also can get an equal mix of the two types.

Aim to exercise most days of the week. For even more health benefits, strive for 300 minutes a week or more of moderate aerobic activity or 150 minutes of vigorous activity. Exercising this much may help with weight loss or keeping off lost weight. But even small amounts of physical activity can be helpful. Being active for short periods of time during the day can add up and give you great health benefits.

  • Strength training. Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. One set of each exercise is enough for health and fitness benefits. Use a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.

Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, biking, swimming and mowing the lawn.

Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running, swimming hard laps, heavy yardwork and aerobic dancing.

Strength training can include use of weights or weight machines, your own body weight, resistance tubing, or activities such as rock climbing.

How much am I burning?

This list shows about how many calories are burned while doing certain exercises for one hour. This is based on a person who weighs 160 pounds (73 kilograms). The calories you burn depend on the exercise you do, how hard you do it, how much you weigh and other factors.

Based on Ainsworth BE, et al. 2011 compendium of physical activities: A second update of codes and MET values. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011;43:1575.

Remember, to lose weight or to keep weight from creeping up on you as you age, you need to eat less and move more. Moving more means adding more physical activity into your life.

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  • Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. 2nd ed. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  • Physical activity for a healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  • Ainsworth BE, et al. 2011 compendium of physical activities: A second update of codes and MET values. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011;43:1575.
  • 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  • Perreault L, et al. Obesity in adults: Role of physical activity and exercise. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  • AskMayoExpert. Physical activity (adult). Mayo Clinic; 2022.

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