24 Activities For 1 Year Olds That Spark Imagination

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mom reading to 1-year-old son

Inside: Any parent knows a bored 1 year old is an unhappy 1 year old. I’ve put together 24 activities for 1 year olds that include sensory activities, indoor activities, and outdoor activities to keep your 1 year old entertained during any season.

If you’re anything like me you wonder if you are doing enough activities with your 1 year old to spark their imagination and foster a fun learning environment. I am always trying to come up with fun activities for 1 year olds that little man will not only enjoy but also learn from!

If you are searching for activities for your 1 year old to keep them busy, using their imagination, and have fun, here are 24 activities to fight boredom and get those little kiddos learning.

Fight Boredom With Fun Activities For 1 Year Olds

Do you ever feel like you are a one-woman circus trying to keep your 1 year old entertained?

I will have one activity out, and not one minute later, Little Man is flittering off to find something else to play with.

He gets bored so quickly! And a bored one year old is not a very happy one year old!

But over the years, I’ve discovered there are plenty of activities for 1 year olds that will spark their imagination and aid their development at the same time.

I’ve curated a list of activities that will help your child’s overall development, as well as their fine motor skills and gross motor skills.

What’s more, I’ve also put together some ideas for sensory activities, indoor activities, and outdoor activities so you can keep your one year old entertained whatever the weather.

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Activities For 1 Year Olds Development

At this crucial age, our children are developing at an astonishing rate, and we must support that with day-to-day activities.

1. Learning words with flashcards –  This is an activity that will teach your baby to read. To do this activity, you will need five flashcards with images of objects and the name of the object underneath.

If you can find that object in your home and place it next to the flashcard, that will help too. This activity can be done a few times a day with your one-year-old to support their development. 

2. Opening foil-wrapped toys – This activity for one year olds development is easy to set up. All you need to do is wrap a few items in aluminum foil then let your child unwrap them. You can use this activity to help with learning the names of objects or animals, all while developing fine motor skills.

3. Magnetic theater – Get your child more engaged in stories by creating magnets of the characters. This would work perfectly for something like Old Macdonald because you can create all the farm animals and stick them on a baking tray as they’re named.

4. Adding props to your reading time – Make storytime more fun by involving stuffed animals and toys to represent the characters in the books. You can have them acting out what the book is describing, taking, and tickling your baby to keep them engaged. 

Fine Motor Development Activities For 1 Year Olds

1-year-old girl playing with playdoh

5. Playdough – Playing with playdough is one of the most fun ways to help your baby develop their fine motor skills because it can be used in so many ways and in conjunction with other things. Allowing your child to squeeze, roll, and build with playdough will develop this essential skill.

6. Threading beads onto pipe cleaners – Another fun and tactile activity for developing children’s fine motor skills is threading. I find that large beads and pipe cleaners make this activity accessible for even the littlest of fingers.

*Be sure to get beads that are large enough that they aren’t a choking hazard!

7. Posting – Posting is another activity that will develop fine motor skills in children. You could make a post box out of cardboard or get a toy that involves posting shapes into the correct holes.

8. Building 3D models – Nothing develops fine motor skills as well as building blocks. This will allow your baby to be creative, all while carefully placing one block on top of another. 

Activities For Gross Motor Development For 1 Year Olds

9. Work on balance – There are plenty of fun ways to get your baby working on their balance, such as making a course out of pillows or a homemade balance beam.

10. Crawling practice – By practicing crawling or walking over pillows, your baby will better their body awareness, coordination, and balance.

11. Use building blocks – As well as being useful for developing fine motor skills, building blocks are also suitable for developing gross motor skills by creating optical courses or ‘block bowling’ where they have to knock blocks down by rolling softballs. 

12. Clean up – This is by far my favorite way to develop my kid’s gross motor skills, all while teaching them another valuable life skill.   

Sensory Activities For 1 Year Olds

13. Cereal Pool Be prepared to get covered in Cheerios! For this sensory activity, all you’ll need is an empty plastic paddling pool and cereal of your choice. Put your baby, and the cereal in the paddling pool and allow them to move it, crush it, eat it… It’s the safest sensory activity ever!

14. Fruit sensory bin – All you need is a large plastic tub (large enough for baby to sit and move comfortably) and some fruit… Let your child smush, eat, and rub the juices all over them to their heart’s content. Plus, they’ll be getting one of their five a day!

15. DIY Animal Sensory Board – For this sensory activity, you’ll need animal fabrics and a board to stick them to. Then simply let your baby touch and feel the materials for a fun yet straightforward DIY sensory activity.

16. Soap Paint – To make soap paint you will need to mix three parts soap flakes with two parts water and then a small amount of washable kids paint. Get a large table cloth and place it on safe flooring and watch your baby play with the paint and make their own masterpiece.

Indoor Activities for 1 year olds

17. Play with a blanket – Who doesn’t love blanket forts? This is such a simple way to keep your one-year-olds entertained on a rainy day.

18. Play musical instruments – Tambarine, maracas, drums, even upside down pans and wooden spoons can be used to create music.

19. Sing nursery rhymes – Turn up the volume and play some nursery rhymes while your one-year-old shakes their diaper to the beat!

20. Blow bubbles – Bubbles make for hours of fun. My favorite time to do this is in the bath so that my baby doesn’t get bored and try to climb out mid-bath time.

Outdoor Activities for 1 year olds

activities for 1-year-olds child holding water hose gardening

21. Digging for treasure – You could collect some small objects and bury them in a sandpit or a small box filled with soil and let your baby do the rest.

22. Cloud spotting – See what shapes/animals/objects your baby can find in the clouds. This is a perfect activity for a warm summer day.

23. Scavenger hunt – Hide things all around the garden, write some clues and see if your baby can find all the hidden objects.

24. Plant something – Planting and growing something is great because it’s not just a one-off activity. You can teach your baby how to look after a plant and watch it grow over time.

Looking for more activities to do with your kids? You might want to check out my post on How to Be a Hero This Summer with Kid-Approved Fun Activities.

Your Turn

Do you have a go-to list of activities for 1 year olds to fight off toddler boredom? I will love it if you share some of your favorite activities below!

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