Toddlers are so fun for so many reasons. But anyone with a toddler will agree that they are also BUSY! It seems from the time they turn one, toddlers are all about messes and getting into EVERYTHING they can reach – and if you have a kid who climbs, then they are getting into things they can’t reach!
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Thankfully there are so many resources available for activities for your toddlers! We’ve compiled the BEST list of easy and fun indoor AND outdoor activities for you to do with your one-year-old! We love how simple these activities are. The best part? Most of them require little preparation and can be done using things you already have around the house!
We know not every one-year-old is the same. Because kids all develop at slightly different rates, what one kid finds entertaining will be different than what another kid loves. These activities for one-year-olds are so easily adaptable to fit the skill level and interest of your toddler. Plus, you can easily adjust them to include your older kids too! If that doesn’t sound like a win, I don’t know what does!
Indoor Activities for 1 Year Olds
Pots and lids match-up game
If you’re looking for a great activity for your one-year-old, but don’t have the time or energy to prepare anything, this is the one for you! Pull out a variety of pots and pans and their lids and help your kid match the lids to their pot. Not only will this activity keep your toddler entertained, it also helps with motor skills and cognitive development!
Pull out the musical instruments if you have them and make some noise! If you don’t have any kid-friendly instruments, use household items like pots, pans, and spoons to make some beautiful (and loud) sounds! Your toddler is sure to enjoy making the noise and may even sing along with the beat!
A great way to entertain your one-year-old at home is to play house. It may seem like a no-brainer, but this open-ended child-directed game is great for helping your toddler learn to communicate. The best part? You don’t need fancy toys or equipment for this easy game. Pull out a few baby dolls or toy dishes and you are ready to have a fun game of make-believe!
Play with toy phones
What toddler doesn’t love to pretend to talk on the phone? The conversation may be simple, but it is sure to keep your one-year-old entertained for at least a few minutes! Grab a toy phone (or your real phone) and give a toy phone to your kid. Mimic the ringing sound and pick up the phone with an enthusiastic “hello!” Your toddler will likely follow your example and will love it!
Look at books
If you’re one-year-old is anything like mine were, they don’t really love being read to. My toddlers were always far more interested in looking at the pictures and turning the pages than actually hearing the story. If your toddler will sit for a whole story, that is great! If not, talk about the pictures and name everything they point to. Your toddler stays entertained and you get to spend time with them all while sitting comfortably on the couch!
Make crafts with toilet paper rolls
Hold onto your empty toilet paper rolls and get creative! You can help your kid create a microphone, or a pair of binoculars that they can look through. Either way, your toddler has a new, inexpensive toy that they are likely to play with for hours!
You may not find coloring to be an appropriate activity for a one-year-old, but you may be surprised at what they are capable of (and how much they enjoy it). If you’re worried about a mess, cover your table with paper and let your toddler color directly on it. They will love practicing their skills and you’ll enjoy no mess!
Feeling too tired to spend a lot of energy on entertaining your toddler? Fetch is a great activity that you can do from the comfort of your living room couch. Give simple directions to your toddler and send them on a scavenger hunt. Easy-to-follow instructions like “find your blanket” or “bring me a ball” can help test your kid’s comprehension skills while also entertaining them and letting you rest!
Finger paint with food
Parents of toddlers know that they LOVE to make messes. What better way to make a mess than with food? Finger painting can be fun, but you run the risk of having them eat the paint. Even with non-toxic paint, you probably don’t want your one-year-old eating a lot of it. Painting with food solves this problem! Have them paint directly on the table or their high-chair tray, or pull out a cookie sheet and let them go to town!
Canvas art (mess free!)
If you’re in the mood for a more mess-free activity that still allows your toddler to be creative, try this amazing mess-free canvas art! Find a canvas or canvas board at your local art supply store. Squeeze some different paint colors directly on the canvas and wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap. Then let your toddler push the colors around. Mess free and they still get to create a masterpiece!
Outdoor Activities for 1 Year Olds
Play in the dirt
What toddler doesn’t love to play in the dirt? Playing in the dirt is such a great sensory activity for any one-year-old – and they LOVE it too! One thing we love about this activity is that it is great for keeping your kid entertained while you weed the garden or do any other outdoor job (that still allows for adult supervision, obviously). So put on some play clothes and let your little one dig through the dirt to their heart’s content!
Maybe even more fun than playing in the dirt is blowing bubbles. Any parent who is afraid of dirt would agree! Pull out the bubble wands and bubble solution and go crazy! Your toddler will love chasing the bubbles around the backyard.
Paint with water
This outdoor activity is best reserved for a warm, sunny day. Fill a bowl or some kind of container with water, head out to the patio and show your toddler how to make handprints on the pavement with their wet hands. They are sure to be in awe! The best part about this activity – it is totally mess free, provided that you don’t mind a little bit of water.
Squeeze wet sponges
Here is another great sensory activity for your kids that requires almost no preparation and materials you probably already have at home! Fill a small bucket with water and throw some clean sponges in it. Take it to the backyard and show your toddler how to squeeze the water out of the sponges. They can squeeze them to make patterns on the patio, or just squeeze them back out into the bucket. Either way, they are sure to have a blast AND get soaked, so be sure to put them in a bathing suit!
A great fall activity for toddlers is to collect leaves. Give them a basket to put them in or just let them grab as many as they can carry. Talk to them about how the leaves are different from each other. Or if you have a very articulate one-year-old, have them tell YOU how they are different or what colors they are.
You may not have a garden full of flowers that you want your toddler to pick, but in the spring and summer there is usually no shortage of beautiful weeds that you could do without. Whether it’s dandelions or the ever pesky morning glory, you can entertain your one-year-old AND weed your yard at the same time!
Look for rocks
This activity takes literally no preparation other than strapping on your toddler’s sandals. Go for a walk and find rocks of all different shapes and sizes! Bring a wagon to put them in. As an added bonus, when you get home, see if your toddler can practice lining the rocks up in a straight line. It’s a simple activity that will keep them happy and entertained for a long time!
When is the last time you let your toddler just explore? Chances are it hasn’t happened much. Head outside and go on a walk with your toddler, allowing THEM to choose where you go. Follow them as they walk, narrating the whole time – “which way should we go now?” When they stop to look at a rock, bug, or a crack in the sidewalk, stop with them and talk about what they see. They’ll love the one-on-one attention and being outside in the fresh air.
Draw with chalk
For an activity a little closer to home, take out the sidewalk chalk and draw with your toddler on your driveway or patio. You one-year-old may not create the next masterpiece, but they are sure to enjoy the feel of the chalk in their chubby fingers. Show them how to draw with the chalk and see if they will mimic any of the things you draw. You may be surprised at how capable your little one is!
Eat lunch outside
If you’re anything like me, you’re exhausted by lunchtime. It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane tasks of parenthood. Why not mix it up with having a little picnic lunch? Whether you’re going to the park or just hanging out in the backyard, you and your one-year-old are sure to enjoy the change in scenery!
No matter how you spend time with your toddler, they are sure to love just being with you. You do not have to spend a lot of money or excessive amounts of time to create a meaningful experience with your child. In fact, if you ask us, simple is almost always better!
What is your favorite activity to do with your one-year-old? Tell us about it in the comments!