15 Activities for One Year Olds That Are Exciting & Educational

Here are some of the top things to do with one year olds to help them meet their milestones! They're full of fun for little ones (and even parents too).

Published September 11, 2023
young boy playing with 1 year old sibling

From the moment your child turns one, they become a more amazing little person every day! They begin to mimic, explore, and communicate. Their personalities emerge, and they gain the constant urge to try new things. This creates the perfect opportunity to help them learn!

For the parents looking for some beneficial activities for one year olds that are both fun and educational, we have you covered with these ideas for the youngest toddlers.

Top Things to Do With One Year Olds to Keep Their Development on Track

Every child learns through observation and play. This makes these interactions extremely important. When it comes to one-year-old activities, there are a few milestones to keep in mind. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top developmental markers that children should achieve between the ages of one and two include:

  • Searching for things they see you hide (12 months)
  • Stacking small objects (15 months)
  • Clapping when excited (15 months)
  • Playing with toys in simple ways (18 months)
  • Scribbling (18 months)
  • Copying things you do (18 months)
  • Looking at book pages (18 months)
  • Climbing on low objects (18 months)
  • Playing with multiple toys at once (2 years)
  • Kicking balls (2 years)
  • Running (2 years) 

Since these are all skills that health experts expect children to be able to do at these specific ages, they can serve as the perfect inspiration for activities to do with one-year-old kids! 

Meet Milestones With These Fun Activities for One Year Olds 

Now that you know what to work on and when, we break down the best activities for one-year-old toddlers to help them learn and grow. 


Stacking is a simple activity that can bring hours of fun! Parents can start with basic stacking cups and work their way up to building blocks. This helps with both fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It also facilitates creative play.

Helpful Hack

As your child becomes more skilled at this activity, you can start to give them more difficult items to pile up. Stacking rocks for toddlers are an excellent challenge for little hands that can test their dexterity and build up their patience.

Water Play

Mom playing with baby and daughter in water

Splishing and splashing may not seem like a learning opportunity, but sensory water play has so many benefits! Not only is it calming, but it also helps your child make sense of this big, beautiful world.

Unlike on solid ground, water brings additional obstacles. Pouring, lifting, sifting, and balancing in and on water can all hone your child's dexterity and fine motor skills, as well as aid in their language development. 

Need to Know

Water play can happen in the tub, a mini pool, a water table, or even in the kitchen sink! Just make sure to supervise this activity so that your child stays safe.

Color Matching

As mentioned above, one of the first milestones to work on after your child's first birthday is searching! This makes color sorting a great introduction to this concept. Start with three colored cups and three grippable objects for each of the chosen shades. Then, start sorting — hold a green object over the green cup, say "green goes in," and then drop it! 

This should trigger them to look in the cup. Repeat with the two other green objects, allowing them to search each time. Then, move to the next color until you run out of objects and cups to fill. Over time, this basic game will help them learn colors and associate the various shades with the words that represent them.

Noodle Fun

Everyone has a few spare dry noodles lying around! And if you don't, you can buy a bunch for less than five bucks. This one-year-old activity essentially lets your little one play chef for a day. First, grab some big bow ties, a pile of penne, a handful of rotelles, and whatever other large pasta noodles you fancy. Then, snag a few clear plastic Solo cups, some plastic Tupperware, wooden spoons and other large plastic kitchen utensils, as well as a large (unbreakable) mixing bowl. 

Put each type of noodle in a different cup and then ask your child to pour, mix, scoop, and transfer the noodles between the different containers that you have provided. This is another easy way to work on their fine motor skills and build their vocabulary. It can be a fantastic tool for pretend play as well! To make this happen, have them serve everyone their creation and let each person pretend to eat their food. 

Need to Know

First, this activity does require supervision. Second, to enhance this experience, you can purchase colored noodles to use as another form of color-matching play. Finally, as your toddler's dexterity improves, give them a challenge! Tongs are an easy way to elevate this task and further their progress.


Mom playing peek-a-boo with baby

This is another searching game that young toddlers absolutely love. Start with your hands and then upgrade to blankets and other objects to hide yourself and reappear. You'll be surprised at how much fun you actually have while playing this silly game with your toddler!

Sensory Bins

Another opportunity for scooping, pouring, sifting, and exploring is a sensory bin. For those who don't know, these are containers that hold items with varying textures to stimulate your child's senses and allow them to explore in their own unique way. They are easy to make at home and can serve as another amazing learning space for little ones of varying ages.

Just make sure to supervise this type of activity to ensure that objects stay in the bin and don't make it into your little one's mouth!


Looking through picture books is another simple activity for one year olds that has many benefits. It introduces new vocabulary and gives them the opportunity to mimic sounds and expressions. It also improves their listening skills, bolsters their ability to focus for longer periods of time, and it can be a great bonding experience. 

Quick Tip

If you want to elevate this experience, make it sensory! Buy simple textured board books for your toddler to touch while you read. Then, ask them questions, like "is the kitty soft?", as they pet the faux fur in the book. Even if they can't respond, this can help them with their language acquisition and keep them engaged for longer periods of time.

Musical Fun

Baby playing with xylophone

Music is another calming activity that will not only build your child's language skills, but it can also help with coordination. How, you may ask? Dancing, of course! It may seem silly, but turn on some fun nursery rhymes, get down on your toddler's level, and have a mini dance party. Clap your hands, sway back and forth, and move to the music!

You can also give them small scarves to wave around, blow up some balloons to toss about, and blow some bubbles to motivate them to move. Parents can also invest in toy instruments like maracas, hand shakers, xylophones, and bells to introduce different sounds and rhythms and let their toddlers show off their creative side.

Sweeping Fun

One of the best Montessori activities for one year olds is sweeping! This is a skill that requires concentration and coordination. It is also something that we all have to do in our lives, so why not introduce it now? All you need is some painter's tape, a toddler sized broom, and something to sweep up!

Using the painter's tape, create large shapes on your floor, like triangles or squares. Then, sprinkle your fake leaves, cheerios, or colorful pom-poms on the ground outside of your shapes. Finally, instruct your tot to sweep the items into the spaces you have created. 

Go, Go, Go...Stop!

Coloring is another perfect activity for one year olds to build their fine motor skills, but did you know that it can also teach them the meaning of the words like "stop" and "go"? This easy activity was a game changer for getting my son's attention in different scenarios, like running out the door and dropping food on the floor.

All you have to do is get your kiddo scribbling and you do the same. As your hands move, repeat the phrase "go, go, go, go." When it is time to pause, yell "stop!" and immediately freeze. Your toddler will quickly join in on the fun, not realizing that they are learning the meanings of these important action words.

Water Painting

Is there anything better than a canvas that can be used over and over again? For this one-year-old activity, all you need is a bucket of water, some large paint brushes and sponges, and a bit of pavement on a warm, sunny day.

Then, let your little one show off their inner Picasso! They can color as they see fit and the sun will clear their canvas as they go, making room for more creativity.

Soccer Practice

Family playing soccer practice with baby

Are you looking for things to do with one year olds that are fun for you as well? Running and kicking are both big goals for your child's second birthday and soccer is a fun way to build these skills.

Grab a ball and gently kick it back and forth with your significant other while your child is watching. Then, kick it their way and see what they do! As they get better at this, consider investing in a soccer net or regularly visiting a local park. This can improve their foot control, concentration, and decision-making skills.

Ball Pit Fun

For the little ones who are less mobile around their first birthday, a ball bit is another fun option! All you need is a bunch of balls and a blow-up mini pool. Once assembled, plop them inside and watch them explore the space.

This can help with hand-eye coordination and balance. It is also another calming exercise and it can serve as one more spectacular way to introduce colors. 

Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are excellent ways to improve your toddler's coordination, balance, spatial awareness, and other gross motor skills. Parents can easily craft a course with cardboard boxes, pillows, pop up crawl tunnels, stepping stones, and other items they may have lying around the house.

Challenge your toddler to a race and see who can make it to the finish line. No matter who wins, everyone is guaranteed to be giggling!

Car Races

Toddler playing with cars

Just because the milestone involves playing with toys in simple ways doesn't mean that you can't bring a little excitement to the activity! For this game, grab a cardboard box and flatten it out (or a long piece of plywood), snag an ottoman or another box, and make a simple ramp.

Then, grab some cars and let the races begin! This one-year-old activity introduces cause and effect, gives them opportunities to practice walking and running to retrieve their car, and it is just downright fun.

Find Things to Do With One Year Olds While Doing Daily Tasks

These are just a few of the beneficial activities for one year olds that parents can try! Since toddlers love to mimic and help with daily tasks, get them involved in your day-to-day activities as well.

Hand them items as you grocery shop and then bring them in the house when you get home. Have them participate in cleaning up their toys. And let them pick out clothes and put their dirties in the hamper. These tasks not only make them feel valuable, but they are also important life skills that they need to learn for the near future!

15 Activities for One Year Olds That Are Exciting & Educational