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One-year-olds are an interesting bunch.
They are in that “in-between” stage of life where their ability to play and explore is more advanced than an infant, but they are still limited in what they can do and understand.
And if you are home with a toddler all day long, it IS hard to come up with entertaining things for them to do to keep them engaged.
My son is currently 15 months old and I am with him ALL day.
I’m not a very crafty or a major DIY-er so it can be hard for me to come up with ideas or put together an activitiy involving lots of bits and pieces.
And I don’t have a big budget to get those fancy “educational” toys either.
Sometimes I just feel like we’ve run out of ideas for play-time and I worry that I am not doing enough to stimulate his little mind!
But you know what I realized?
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on special toys or go through the trouble of setting up some sort of DIY activity.
One-year-olds are fascinated and can learn so much by playing with regular stuff you may have laying around the house!
Here is a list of our favorite simple yet enriching and fun acititives that you can do with your little love too!
Play with a blanket
This is simple but surprisingly fun for a one-year-old.
You can play peek-a-boo with it or make waves by getting your toddler to sit opposite you and grasping the ends of the blanket.
Play with toddler appropriate musical instruments (like xylophones, maracas, or tambourines) or make your own!
You could wrap a few rubber bands around an empty tissue box (then pluck the strings to make sounds) or fill an empty bottle with rice, popcorn or little rocks (shake the filled bottles to discover what sounds they make).
Have a dance party
This is definitely one of our favourites.
Turn up the music and dance along with your mini!
Also, include some nursery rhymes which you can accompany with actions (eg. Open shut them, Heads shoulders knees and toes, or Twinkle twinkle little star).
Play with bubbles
Playing with bubbles is a classic form of entertainment for kids, and your toddler will love it too. Take it up a notch and get this cute bubble machine for endless fun!
Play with a ball
There are so many things to do with a ball!
They come in lots of shapes, sizes and even textures. You can roll it to one another, chase after it, throw it, bounce it, or kick it!
Or try playing with a balloon! My son LOVES balloons.
Play with blocks
There are lots of different types of blocks available these days. Teach your one-year-old to build it up and then knock it down, or build something out of it.
Give your child a big piece of paper or cardboard and a pack of non-toxic crayons, washable paint or even chalk. You can also try feet painting (if you are brave) as it would be a fun new sensation for them.
Watch your little Picasso create art!
Make a collage
Spread some glue on a piece of paper and allow your toddler to stick bits and pieces to it.
You could give your toddler some cut up pieces of wrapping paper, cotton balls, cut up pieces of old clothes, foil, tissue or even leaves collected from the yard.
You might be surprised by the masterpiece they create!
Offer your toddler a few books to choose from and then read it to them. Sometimes, my toddler enjoys just flicking through the pages and pointing to the pictures he recognises in the book.
Giving chores to kids is very beneficial, so why not start now? You could get your toddler to “help” water the plants, wipe surfaces, pack away toys, or pass you the pegs.
Play with stickers
This fun activity will help your one-year-old develop the “pincer grip”.
After lifting up the sticker first, allow your child to peel off the rest and stick it on paper or whatever surface you desire.
Allow your toddler to play in dirt, mud or sand.
It actually has many benefits, so let your toddler go digging and exploring in the backyard or local park!
Play with rice
Even for adults, there’s something pleasing about putting your hand in uncooked rice (surely, I’m not the only one that thinks this?).
My toddler always runs towards me when he knows I am filling the rice cooker with cups of rice. Hide some little toys in a bucket of rice and your child will love trying to find them!
All you need is a large zip-loc bag, paint, sticky tape and paper.
Add some squirts of paint on the piece of paper and then lay it in the zip-loc bag. Seal it up and it to the highchair, table or floor and watch your toddler have fun squishing and smushing the paint around.
Got some disposable cups left-over from a party you had?
You would be surprised at how much fun a bunch them are for a toddler.
By trying to stack them up, it is also a great way for them to improve on their fine motor skills and learn about cause and effect.
Sorting pompoms with a spoon
You will need 2 bowls, some pompoms and a spoon.
Fill one bowl with pompoms and encourage your toddler to transfer the pompoms to the empty bowl.
Stringing pipe cleaners
Give your toddler some pipe cleaners and a colander.
Then, encourage them to put the pipe cleaners through the holes of the colander. If you don’t have pipe cleaners, let them try it with uncooked spaghetti or straws!
With a long piece of string, hang a blown-up balloon in the doorway and allow your little one to practice hitting the balloon with their hands.
Make sure the balloon hangs low enough for them to hit!
Fabric in wipes container
Does your baby enjoy pulling out the wet wipes from the container? Or tissues from the tissue box?
Well, why not turn it into an activity!
Stuff the wipes container with a whole bunch of pieces of fabric or washcloths and let them go crazy pulling it out one at a time!
Foam window shapes/letters
Allow your little one to decorate the window with those foam bathtub shapes/letters or animals!
Keeping your old-year-old happy does not have to take a lot of effort.
The most important thing they need is love and attention.
By doing these simple activities with your one-year-old, you will not only keep them entertained, but also help them develop vital skills.
What activity does your one-year-old like best?