30+ Low-Prep Activities for Your One-Year-Old to Spark Joy and Learning

Recently updated on March 4th, 2024 at 12:35 pm

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If you’re searching for low-prep activities for one-year-old that are engaging, enriching, and just plain fun, you’ve landed in the right spot.

At this exploratory age, our little ones are absorbing every bit of the world around them, making it critical to provide them with activities that stimulate their rapidly developing minds. Yet, we understand that as parents and caregivers, time is often in short supply.

That’s why we’ve assembled a list of activities that are not only rich in developmental benefits but also require minimal setup time.

So, let’s dive into the fun world of low-prep activities for your one-year-old

Low Prep Sensory Activities for 1-Year-Olds

Soft Texture Box: Gather various soft items like fluffy socks, plush toys, or cotton balls, and place them into a box. This activity enhances the sense of touch and helps your child distinguish between textures.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Scented Playdough: Make or buy non-toxic playdough and infuse it with safe essential oils like lavender or chamomile. This engages your little one’s sense of touch and smell, promoting sensory integration.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Taste-safe Paint: Mix yogurt with food coloring to create taste-safe paint. Your toddler can create art and safely taste it, encouraging their creative and gustatory senses.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Jingle Bell Shakers: Fill small, sealed containers with jingle bells. This stimulates auditory senses and improves hand-eye coordination.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Sensory Bags: Fill ziplock bags with materials such as hair gel and glitter. This offers a safe, mess-free sensory exploration.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Bubble Wrap Stomp: Tape a piece of bubble wrap to the floor and let your toddler walk on it. This not only enhances their tactile senses but also promotes motor skills.

Edible Sand Tray: Use crushed graham crackers or biscuits to create an edible sand tray. This activity encourages free play while also being safe for little ones who still put everything in their mouths.

Fruit Exploration: Introduce various fruits for your child to touch, smell, and taste, teaching them about different shapes, textures, and flavors.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Rice Sensory Bin: Fill a bin with uncooked rice and add spoons or cups for pouring. This activity enhances motor skills and sensory integration.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Water Play: Fill a basin with warm water and provide cups, spoons, or toys for splashing. This simple yet fun activity fosters gross motor skills and temperature awareness.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Low Prep Games for 1-Year-Olds

“Where is it?” Game: Hide a toy under a blanket and ask your child, “Where is it?” This game encourages cognitive development by enhancing object permanence understanding.

Puzzles: Simple wooden puzzles with large pieces help to develop fine motor skills and problem-solving abilities.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Peek-a-boo: This classic game is excellent for bonding and helps your child understand that things can disappear and reappear.

Roll the Ball: Sit on the floor and roll a ball to your child, encouraging them to roll it back. This improves motor skills and teaches the concept of cause and effect.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Stacking Cups: Simple, colorful cups can be stacked and knocked over, promoting motor skills and color recognition.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Sorting Game: Provide your toddler with different colored blocks or toys to sort. This enhances color recognition and categorization skills.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Bubbles Catching: Blow bubbles and let your toddler chase and pop them. This promotes gross motor skills and spatial awareness.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Mirror Game: Make faces in the mirror and encourage your toddler to mimic you. This helps develop self-recognition and emotional expression.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Pat-a-cake: Play the pat-a-cake clapping game, which teaches rhythm, coordination, and language skills.

Dance Party: Play some tunes and encourage your child to move and dance, improving their motor skills and rhythm awareness.

Fun Activities for 1-Year-Olds

Here are some fun low-prep activities for one-year-old:

Picture Book Time: Reading picture books fosters language development, listening skills, and imagination.

Nature Walk: A simple walk in a park or backyard introduces your child to nature and the outdoors, stimulating all five senses.

Animal Sounds: Make animal sounds and teach your child to imitate them, promoting auditory skills and animal recognition.

Toy Phone Calls: Use a toy phone or a remote to pretend to talk, enhancing imaginative play and communication skills.

Building Blocks: Help your toddler build a tower with blocks, enhancing their fine motor skills and understanding of shapes and balance.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Sing-Along Songs: Sing nursery rhymes and encourage your toddler to join in. This fosters language development and musical appreciation.

Tummy Time with Toys: Place your baby on their tummy with their favorite toys within reach. This helps to strengthen neck, back, and shoulder muscles.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Play with Pets: Supervised playtime with a friendly pet can improve your child’s social skills and emotional development.

Cardboard Box Play: Never underestimate the power of a cardboard box! It can be a car, a house, a boat, stimulating your child’s imagination and creativity.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Sock Puppets: Make simple sock puppets and put on a puppet show, encouraging your child’s creativity, language development, and understanding of social roles.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Fun indoor activities for 1 year old

Here are some low-prep activities for one-year-old:

Finger Painting: Use non-toxic, washable paints to let your child explore color and texture on a large sheet of paper. Not only is this a creative activity, but it also improves fine motor skills.

Stuffed Animal Picnic: Gather all the stuffed animals in your home and have a picnic on the living room floor. Use plastic dishes and pretend food to encourage imaginative play.

Homemade Music Band: Use household items like pots, pans, and spoons to create a makeshift band. This activity is great for developing rhythm and fine motor skills, and it’s a ton of fun!

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Box Tunnel: If you have any large cardboard boxes, you can open both ends to create a fun tunnel for your child to crawl through. This activity encourages gross motor skills and is always a hit with little ones.

low-prep activities for one-year-old

Flashlight Fun: In a darkened room, use a flashlight to create fascinating spots of light for your baby to chase. This activity helps to develop visual tracking skills.

Straw Drop: Give your child some straws to drop into a thin-necked bottle. This activity can keep them entertained while improving their fine motor skills.

Towel Pull: Place a small toy or a few pom poms inside a hand towel and fold it up. Then, let your baby figure out how to unfold the towel to get the toy. This activity enhances their problem-solving skills and dexterity.

Ball Ramp: Use a cardboard tube or a pool noodle cut in half as a ramp. Show your toddler how to roll balls or toy cars down the ramp. This can help them understand gravity and cause-and-effect.

Sticky Wall: Tape a piece of clear contact paper to the wall, sticky side out. Provide your child with lightweight items, like paper shapes or fabric scraps, to stick onto the paper. This activity encourages creativity and fine motor skill development.

Pom-pom drop: Set out a bowl of pom-pom and a toilet role tube. Encourage your child to pick up the pom pom and place them into the tube. This is great for working on their grip.

Texture Crawl: Lay out different textured items like a fluffy rug, a smooth blanket, and a ridged yoga mat. Encourage your child to crawl across the different surfaces. This enhances sensory awareness.

Cupcake Liner Sorting: Provide your child with cupcake liners and small toys of different colors. Ask them to sort the toys into the liners by color, improving their color recognition skills.

Pull-to-Stand Practice: Arrange furniture in a way that encourages your child to pull themselves up and practice standing. Place enticing toys on the furniture to motivate them.

Sound Shakers: Fill a few small containers with different items like rice, beans, or jingle bells. Seal them tightly and let your child shake them to hear the different sounds, enhancing their auditory development.

Preparing for play time with a one year old

Preparing playtime for 1-year-olds is so much fun! With little prep and simple materials, you can set up easy activities that are perfect for busy toddlers and keep them entertained for a long time.

Here are some tips on for low-prep activities for one-year-old:

Setting the Stage for Playtime:

  1. Right Place: Choose a play area that’s safe and comfortable for your child. It could be a dedicated playroom or a corner of your living room.
  2. Play Dough and Other Low-Prep Activities: Have a variety of materials handy for your little one. Play dough, pipe cleaners, pom poms in different colors, and sensory bottles are all great for sensory play and can be bought from a dollar store at no extra cost.
  3. Organizing Small Toys: Use an ice cube tray or a cardboard tube to sort and store small toys. This also doubles as an easy activity that promotes problem-solving skills.
  4. Prepping for Pretend Play: Toys like dump trucks, toy cars, and items for a pretend scavenger hunt are a great way to encourage pretend play and can be found at your local dollar store.

Remember, the key to these activities is to engage with your child and make it fun. The goal is to help them explore the world around them and learn new skills in the process. Happy playing!

These low prep activities for one-year-old are not only entertaining but also beneficial for their overall development. Remember, it’s not about perfection, but having fun and learning together. Happy parenting!

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Parven founded Kids N Clicks after obtaining her MSc in Corporate Governance from the London School of Economics. She worked as a business studies and digital marketing lecturer. Internet Matters recognizes her profound knowledge of online safety, dubbing her an Internet safety expert. At Kids N Clicks, Parven keeps abreast of the newest apps. Drawing from her teaching background, she fervently promotes screen-free activities for students and encourages introspective thinking through journaling, games and writing prompts.

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