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Learning Activities for 18 Month Olds to Do at Home

Learning Activities for 18 Month Olds to Do at Home

Here’s a variety of learning activities for 18 month old toddlers. This variety of activities is a great way for helping young toddlers develop lifelong skills. It is a great opportunity to spend to spend quality time together playing and learning. I love simple activities (using household items if possible) that don’t take a lot of prep time.



18 month olds are often in the midst of a language explosion (learning and saying new words). My little guy loves repeating the last words of my sentences. So as he’s working, I’ve been making sure to narrate what he’s doing as he does it. This is the best way to help develop language skills.



Grab a block of floral styrofoam from The Dollar Tree and add a handful of golf tees and you will have this easy activity for your toddler. I promise your toddler will LOVE pushing the tees into the foam and then working to pull them out. It’s one of our favorite fine motor activities and it is a great way to naturally develop the pincer grasp.


Dropping Buttons

One of G’s favorite “games” is to drop chunky buttons or poker chips through a slit in an old Puffs container. Where I used to hold the container, he now does it all himself. It’s a great exercise in visual and spatial thinking and hand eye coordination, as he has to adjust the angle of the button to get it through the slot. It is the best game for a car ride or waiting room! It’s hard to imagine that such a little thing like buttons and a container would be such a big hit, but it is!

Early Sorting


G has started to get some tot trays, such as this sorting tray. I filled a small bowl with automotive beads (I found mine at Joanns Fabrics) and provided an ice cube tray. Other fun things you can give your toddler to sort are gems, pom poms, small blocks, etc.

At this stage, we’re working on letting him explore, naming colors, and introducing the concept of 1:1 counting by encouraging each spot to get ONE bead. Picking up the beads and dropping them into the tray helps to build fine motor skills. A muffin tin is also a good idea for this type of activity.



Initially (as pictured), I filled two small pitchers with marbles, thinking the sound would be satisfying. Although, it turned out to be just LOUD so we replaced the marbles with pom poms and he had fun pouring from one pitcher to the other. This simple activity can be a challenge for little hands as it requires hand-eye coordination and children spend a long time pouring back and forth in this little game. You can also try pouring beans back and forth.

Sensory Tub


Spread out a towel or a shower curtain liner, pour some rice in a plastic container, and grab some tiny objects to hide. Simple things like pom poms, gems, craft sticks, small toys, beads, etc. This is one of G’s AND M’s (age 5.5) favorite sensory bins. They can sort and sift and discover new things for a good hour! Sensory bins are a fun activity for young children and older children too.

Other sensory play ideas include water play, shaving cream, pasta, water beads, etc. Sometimes messy play can be a turn off for us moms, but doing it outside or with the towel underneath helps me. It’s worth the mess because it’s so beneficial and they have a great time. One of the best things is if you put it in a plastic shoe size storage container, when you are finished you can just put the lid back on and store it for next time.

Caps and Lids


Whenever G finishes off a squeezy food pouch, I clean the lid and toss it in a wipes container. He loves to get the box out and just play, sometimes pushing the lids through the box’s opening and sometimes stacking. He surprises me each time with a creative way to play with them.

These are a great idea to save because they are super versatile learning tools that we can later use in different ways to sort, count, or pattern!



As with all activities, I monitor G so closely and NEVER leave his side (not even for a moment!). This is definitely one of those activities, but it’s also his favorite. I fill a basket with a little bit of magnets (ball magnets or magnetic disks are SO much fun) and provide a few magnet wands, too. He absolutely loves to “catch” magnets, clean up by sweeping the wand over fallen ones, and just exploring! This is a great activity that can be explored in new, fun ways as your child gets older.

Written by Jill

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Make sure to check out:

Learning with Your 17 Month Old

Playing and Learning with Your 2 Year Old

Fun Activities for a Busy 2 Year Old


Tuesday 27th of January 2015

these activities use small objects just waiting for a child that young to put in mouth to choke. I get that they are not to be left alone but golf tees? And marble like orbs? Not for me. If one of these objects were to roll away etc. leave it to a toddler to find them. My son at 3 once put a game disk in his mouth to hide and resulted in an ER visit. So with GK i am shy about those small pieces. I know many kids do not put everything in mouth but my GS does. How about games with larger objects?


Tuesday 27th of January 2015

We appreciate your opinion and feedback about these activities. I agree, the smaller materials are not for EVERY child. Each child is different and many will experiment by putting them in their mouth. If you know your child tends to explore by putting them in his/her mouth try using large pom poms, blocks, etc. Search through our other toddler activities and you will find many choices that include larger manipulatives.

Amy Blanchard

Friday 29th of March 2013

I've been collecting lids from pouches for a long time now to use in art projects later (they make great wheels for toilet paper tube cars!). I just piled them into a wipes container and my 18-month-old is having a blast dumping and filling and putting them in the little hole. GENIUS!


Wednesday 7th of November 2012

I have an 18 month old so I love how these posts fit exactly. She turned 18 months today!!

JDaniel4's Mom

Tuesday 6th of November 2012

My guy loved doing these things too.