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    16 Indoor Learning Activities for 1 Year Olds for Endless Fun at Home

    Whether it’s a rainy day out or you just feel like staying home, going outdoors may not always be an option. Finding age-appropriate activities for 1 year olds that you can try with your toddler can be tricky sometimes, especially when you’re stuck (or choose to be) indoors. 

    16 Terrific Indoor Activities for 1-Year-Olds

    Young girl threading different color rigatoni pastas


    We’ve curated the best indoor activities for 1-year-olds that can help them learn and have fun simultaneously. And the best part is that you can try these out with your child from the comfort of your home. 

    1. Threading Pasta

    What you will need:

    Hollow dry pasta such as rigatoni and some dough (or playdough )

    What to do:

    Threading pasta can be a great way to develop a child’s fine motor skills. All you have to do is stick some straws into some dough or playdough and make sure the straws stay upright. Rigatoni pasta works great for this, but any pasta with a donut-like hole should do. When it comes to creative indoor activities for one year olds, threading pasta is unlike any other.

    What your child will learn:

    Your child will develop their fine motor skills and develop their hand–eye coordination with this activity. 

    2. Putting Toys Away After Playtime

    What you will need:

    Just your toddler and the toys they have finished playing with

    What to do:

    As fun as it is for a child to play with toys, it can be just as fun to put them away if you know how to make a game out of it! You can take turns with your toddler tossing their toys back to their box or the space where they belong. 

    You can take this a step further by trying to encourage your child to color coordinate their toys as they’re being put away. Educational activities for 1 year olds don’t always have to involve books. Sometimes, helping toddlers put away their toys can be quite educational indeed.

    What your child will learn:

    Color coordinating toys as they’re put away after playtime is a great way to develop your child’s coordination skills.

    Related Reading: Best Fun Games for Toddlers that Effortlessly Boost their Growth & Development

    3. Poking Shoeboxes

    What you will need:

    An empty shoebox (or any similar kind of cardboard box) and some golf tees

    What to do:

    If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to entertain infants, all you need to get started is an empty shoebox and some golf tees. Children love poking golf tees into the shoebox. Demonstrate how golf tees can be poked into cardboard and watch your child follow along.

    What your child will learn: 

    The act of inserting golf tees is a tactile activity that promotes the development of fine motor skills. 

    4. Nursery Rhymes

    What you will need:

    Just your toddler and a collection of their favorite nursery rhymes

    What to do:

    You could sing a new nursery rhyme to your child every day until they’re ready for elementary school and still not run out of new rhymes. They remain one of the most popular ways to engage children, and for good reason. Watch as their ears perk up and they clap along to the rhymes you share with them.

    What your child will learn:

    Reading nursery rhymes out loud to children will develop their listening skills and encourage the development of their musical preferences through the exploration of new rhymes.

    Related Reading: Children’s Songs When You Want to Dance With Your Kids

    5. Looking Through Photographs

    A photo album, wall paintings at home, or any images you have at home should work fine.

    What to do:

    Engaging by showing photographs and paintings can be a fun exercise for kids. You can walk around and give them a tour of what your home (or day care) displays on the walls. 

    What your child will learn:

    Looking through images should allow toddlers to enhance their sustained attention.

    6. Making Music

    What you will need:

    Spoons, pots, pans, drums, cymbals, or anything else that can be struck against other items to produce unique sounds

    What to do:

    Sit down with your child and show them how music can be made using spoons, pots, pans, drums, cymbals, and other percussion instruments. Before you know it, your child will be rocking away on their own. You can put on some music and play an instrument to the sound or create your own. 

    What your child will learn:

    Making music is a great way to engage the motor and listening skills of your child. Their capacity for auditory discrimination stands to benefit as well. 

    7. Pretending to Talk on the Phone

    What you will need:

    Any two small items that can pass as a phone

    What to do:

    Start by handing your child one of the items, and holding the other yourself. Talk into the item and pretend you’re speaking into a phone. Your child should follow suit as if responding to your verbal queues. You can even make silly sounds and mimic characters to evoke responses from your child.

    What your child will learn:

    This activity should help develop your child’s listening skills and capacity for one-on-one correspondence.

    Girl paints her fathers nose through the window of cardboard house

    8. Playing House

    What you will need:

    A cardboard large enough for your child to move around in

    What to do:

    You can start by using a cardboard box to create a small house (or castle) and encourage your child to enter and explore this space. You can even pretend to ring the doorbell and ask if someone is home to make this activity even more engaging. With so many fun activities for 1 year olds to choose from, playing house offers something rather fun and unique.

    What your child will learn:

    This activity can stimulate a child’s desire to learn more about the environment they are in.

    Related Reading: Best Concentration Games for Kids to Develop Super Focus & Attention Skills

    9. Talking through a Cardboard Tube

    What you will need:

    All you need is a hollow cardboard tube 

    What to do:

    Make yourself and your child comfortable by finding a space where you can comfortably place a hollow cardboard tube between yourselves and watch the magic unfold. If you’re looking for a way to help your child familiarize themselves with new sounds and voices, you can try speaking to them through a cardboard tube to see how they react to changes in your voice.

    What your child will learn:

    Your child should be able to improve their capacity for one-on-one correspondence and improve their listening skills.

    10. Playing With Sand

    What you will need:

    A small bucket or a tub, along with some sand and water

    What to do:

    Prepare a small bucket or a tub with a mixture of sand and water that is thick enough to be molded into shapes, not unlike dough. Allowing your child to play with a bucket or tub filled with sand and water should help them exercise creativity to experiment with shapes and patterns. You can even try making some of your own and seeing if your child follows your lead.

    What your child will learn:

    This is a tactile activity that should encourage creativity in kids, while improving the fine motor skills.

    11. Self-Awareness Activity

    What you will need:

    All you need for this is red lipstick (any other bright color should work just as well)

    What to do:

    To get started, use red lipstick to make a small mark on your child’s nose or forehead. Once you have done that, place them before a mirror so they can see themself. This may evoke a response from your child, as they recognize themself and notice that there’s something different about how they look.

    Infants don’t have a strong sense of self at this age, but they do have an idea of what they look like and can recognize themself. Even if your child doesn’t recognize the mark or react, don’t worry. They should be able to identify the mark soon enough once they grow a little older.

    What your child will learn:

    This self-awareness activity, as the name suggests, should develop your child’s self-awareness. 

    Related Reading: Best Fun Games for Toddlers that Effortlessly Boost their Growth & Development

    12. Moving within a “Tunnel”

    What you will need:

    A set of puzzles, toys, or objects that can be used to lay out two lines across the room

    What to do:

    Use a set of puzzles, toys or other items to lay out two sets of lines across a room. These lines should serve as a “tunnel,” the margins within which your child should move around. Encourage your child to move within this “tunnel” to see how well they can stay within the margins that you have laid out for them. Learning activities for 1 year olds can be tricky to find, but this game combines the best of both worlds.

    What your child will learn:

    Moving within this “tunnel” should encourage your child’s desire for exploration while improving their gross motor skills.

    13. Grooving to Music

    What you will need:

    A television, laptop, cellphone, or any electronic device with speakers

    What to do:

    After selecting a device, put on some music to see how your child reacts to sounds. You can shuffle through different types of music before you find something that your child enjoys grooving to. Do ensure that the volume stays within a safe margin. When it comes to indoor activities for 1 year olds, grooving to music is tough to beat.

    What your child will learn:

    Listening to music should encourage their desire for musical exploration while improving their listening skills. 

    14. Counting Fingers and Toes

    What you will need:

    All you need for this activity is your child

    What to do:

    Count through different numbers as you raise the corresponding number of fingers. Have your child participate by holding their toes and fingers to do the same. Explaining the concept of numbers may seem challenging, but you can rely on your fingers and toes to tackle the abstract nature of numbers.

    The visual and physical stimuli provided by fingers and toes help make learning easier for your child. With so many activities for 1 year olds at home to pick from, this activity offers toddlers an opportunity to learn counting while having fun, the perfect blend!

    What your child will learn:

    Using toes and fingers can help develop basic number skills while improving sustained attention.

    15. Playing Fetch

    What you will need:

    Your child is all you need for this one

    What to do:

    You must have simple objects like books, shoes, or utensils scattered around your house. Use verbal and physical cues to encourage your child to fetch objects they may recognize. This activity can reward your child with a sense of accomplishment and independence whenever they return with the object you asked them to fetch. If you’re looking for activities for 12 month olds that combine learning with fun, playing fetch is sure to amuse.

    What your child will learn:

    Having your child fetch objects is a simple but effective way of improving their language skills by recognizing directions.

    16. Have Fun with Bath Time

    What you will need:

    Water-friendly toys, or cups, pots, and pans should also suffice

    What to do:

    All you need for a fun bath time are some toys. Even if you don’t have toys suitable for bath time, worry not. You can use a cup, or even pots and pans, to see how your child reacts to the movement of water across these utensils and learn how water moves, smells, and tastes. Feel free to add a baby-friendly bath bomb to make things extra fun. 

    What your child will learn:

    This is a sensory experience that develops your child’s motor skills and capacity for creative play.

    Related Reading: Best STEAM Activities to Make Learning Fun for Kids of All Ages

    Impacts of Learning Activities on Kids

    A girl holds a cupful of macaroni

    Activities are key to nurture children’s growth mindset, development, learning, confidence, and wellbeing. To ensure that children make the most of education through activities, it’s important that their playtime is varied! Whether their playtime is structured or unstructured, indoors or outdoors, it’s imperative that they’re engaging in a wide variety of activities.

    The outdoors can be great for toddlers, but you can always get comfy at home when they aren’t an option. And that’s fine because these indoor activities for 1 year olds are a great alternative to outdoor fun games, and combined with an element of learning, they help your toddler make the most of their playtime.

    Related Reading: Best Indoor and Outdoor Team Building Activities for Kids

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Can these activities be taken outdoors?

    As long as your toddler is engaged and enjoying themselves, it shouldn’t matter whether you’re indoors or outdoors. Bathtime fun could just as well be an afternoon spent in your backyard pool, teaching your toddler how to swim. Whether your child is playing with sand at home or at the beach, their engagement with the activity they’re invested in is all that matters. However, if the weather permits, it won’t hurt to catch the sun. If you’re looking for outdoor activities for 1 year olds, we’ve curated the best of what the outdoors has to offer for your little one.

    Why should I try these activities with my 1 year old?

    Whether you’re helping them thread a string through dry, hollow pasta, or encouraging them to let their imagination run amok as they paint using their hands, these activities can be a great bonding exercise. While the specific advantages of these home and daycare activities for 1 year olds may vary, they’re a great way to build your relationship with your child.

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