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!
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!
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!
WANT YOU TRY ANY OF THESE NO-PREP ACTIVITIES FOR 1 YEAR OLDS WITH YOURS LATER? PIN IT NOW, AND FIND IT LATER!
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
RELATED: 45+ Sensory Bags for 1 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
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 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!
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
- Toy Bugs
- Toy Trees
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
Easy Cereal Transfer – My Baby Plays
Mega Blok Rescue – Baby Belle Fun
Feed and Wash the Animals – Mama and Cub Play
Fruit Sensory Water Play – Creative_Cubs
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
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.
Designed for toddlers 18 months and up.
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.
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.
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.