Early Learning – Activities for My 1 Year Old

I often get asked what the “right” time is to start playing with our tots in a more structured, focused way.
I don’t have an exact answer, since every child is so different, but for us, the window for learning really opened around 14 months of age.  Naturally, kiddos are learning everyday from their surroundings, but M was just over a year old when she started craving activities that we’d sit down and do together.
Here are some early learning activities that we started with and both loved.

Felt Boards

 
Fabric stores sell felt on a bolt and I just covered a cork board with some.  I cut out a ton of shapes in different colors and put them out for M.  She can create pictures and we can hone language development by telling stories and naming objects.

Family Magnets

So much fun!  Grab a photo of a family member and cut out their body.  Use some spray adhesive and attach to a magnet sheet.  Cut out.  Repeat for all family members and friends and you suddenly have a whole cast of characters to play with, name, and create games with.

Dot Art

Dot Stampers are relatively low mess and relatively high excitement!  Even matching the lids to the correct bottle color is a learning activity!

Finger Painting

 

Feeling more adventurous?  Spread a towel, squirt some paint on a plate, and let your little artist delight in this sensory play!  Make sure you have a box of wet wipes ready!

 Chip Drop

If you have an empty can of Puffs (or similar canister, like Pringles), then you have a fine motor skills activity.  Use an knife and cut a slit in the lid and provide some poker chips, buttons, or coins.  Have your tot carefully drop the items through the opening, delighting in the satisfying “plunk” it makes as it hits the bottom!

Color Sorting

Ice cube trays are so versatile!  Grab a pile of tiny toys or objects (pompoms, chunky beads, buttons, feathers) and an ice cube tray.  Help your tot sort by color into each tiny compartment!

Paint Chips

Did you know that paint chips are free?!  Home Depot carries the Disney line, which means that you can go in and take a few sample colors in the fun Mickey shape!  Make it a matching game or, when your tot gets older, try it as a memory game!

Golf Tees and Styrofoam

I promise you this: Your tot will love this activity!  Grab a block of styrofoam at the dollar store (The green kind is floral foam.  It’s much softer and will make a much bigger mess.  The white stuff is less messy but more firm, requiring a little more muscle).  Put some tees in a bowl and have your little one carefully push each tee into the foam.  Ready to clean up?  Use that pincer grip to pull them out!

Hopefully some of these have inspired you to try them out!  M is now almost 5 and still loves all of these activities, so it’s never too late to start!

Written by Jill

Learn and Play with Your Toddler eBook

An Easy to Read Resource of Monthly Activities for Your Toddler

 

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Comments

  1. Love the hands full of paint!

  2. You have some fantastic ideas here! I love the golf tees in styrofoam. I’m going to have to try that one. I never thought about saving the “puffs” containers either. I will have to start!

  3. What a lucky little girl to have such a fabulous Mom!

  4. Thank you for the ideas! I am definately inspired. I am always looking for new activitiy ideas for my 14 month old daughter.

  5. Beautiful, easy and cheap ideas, I love it! I think my two year old would love them too.

  6. These are some great ideas! And I have stuff to do most of them. I will have to give them a try. Thanks for the list!
    -Christina

  7. Love the tee’s idea, but need to warn parents not to leave them unattended doing this, I have heard of kids nearly choking to death on golf tee’s. I am sure that most people know better than to leave them unattended but you never know.

  8. Great ideas! I just worry about choking with all the small items…my 16 month old still puts everything in her mouth!

  9. The green floral styrofoam has a chemical in it that is an eye irritant

  10. The green floral styrofoam has a chemical in it that is an eye irritant

  11. Thank you for these ideas! I have a ton of activities for my 2.5 year old, but finding something that my 15 month old can do has been tough. These are going to be perfect!

  12. Thank you for these ideas! I have a ton of activities for my 2.5 year old, but finding something that my 15 month old can do has been tough. These are going to be perfect!

  13. I’ve been trying to find the Disney paint samples everywhere with no luck. Do you know if they stopped selling that paint therefore the chips are no longer out there anywhere?

    • Hi Suzanne, thanks for asking! I just called our Home Depot and they said that the company is no longer making the paint line anymore. They DO have some chips but as they’re phasing it out, they won’t be receiving any new chips. I’m SO sad! What a shame!

      Jill