Learning Activities for 18 Month Olds

A variety of learning activities for 18 month old toddlers. These are perfect for helping a young toddler develop lifelong skills. 
G is 18 months old and is in the midst of a language explosion.  He 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.



Grab a block of floral styrofoam from The Dollar Tree and add a handful of golf tees.  I promise your toddler will LOVE pushing the tees into the foam and then working to pull them out.  It’s a GREAT fine motor skills activity!

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, as he has to adjust the angle of the button to get it through the slot.

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.  At this stage, we’re working on letting him explore, naming colors, and introducing the concept of 1:1 counting by encouraging each well to get ONE bead.


Initially (as pictured), I filled two small pitchers (both thrifted!) with marbles, thinking the sound would be satisfying.  Although, it turned out to be just LOUD so we replaced the marbles with pompoms and he had fun pouring from one pitcher to the other.

Sensory Tub

Spread a towel, pour some rice in a plastic container, and grab some tiny objects to hide.  This is one of G’s AND M’s (age 5.5) favorite activities.  They can sort and sift and discover for a good hour!

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.  These are super versatile learning tools that we can later use 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 magnets (ball magnets or magnetic disks from Lakeshore 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!

Written by Jill

Our NEW eBook: Learn and Play with Your Toddler

An Easy to Read Resource of Monthly Activities for Your Toddler!

Make sure to check out:

Learning with Your 17 Month Old

Activities for Your 1 Year Old

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  • Reply JDaniel4's Mom

    My guy loved doing these things too.

    November 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm
  • Reply Shonda

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

    November 7, 2012 at 5:41 am
  • Reply Amy Blanchard

    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!

    March 29, 2013 at 12:23 pm
  • Reply Gma

    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?

    January 27, 2015 at 4:14 pm
    • Reply Nicole

      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.

      January 27, 2015 at 10:29 pm

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