One-year-old toddlers are full of personality and energy! Here are over 100 playful activities and things to do with your one-year-old.
Infants, Playful Learning, Projects, Toddlers

100+ Playful Things To Do With a One-Year-Old (Part Two)

This is the second half of a massive post. Find the first half of the many activities for your one-year-old here.

I sat down to compile a few activities for my one-year-old and it kind of took on a life of its own. I used to think one-year-olds were a bit boring when it came to the variety of things to do. I’ve proved myself wrong!
(There are affiliate links in this post: You pay nothing extra but I get a small commission if you purchase anything.)

One-year-old is an interesting and busy age. Here is the second half of a massive list of activities to do with a one-year old. Includes nature play, DIY toys, forts and much more!


One-year-olds are always looking for the next great thing to entertain them. Not only do we not have the funds to provide him with a million toys, the minimalist in me says “even if we could we shouldn’t!”

Luckily we’re not alone and there are a ton of great DIY toys, games, and activities out there.

  1. I made this string pulling box a few months ago, and it’s still fun!
  2. Here’s a quick and easy project from things you probably have on hand, from A Crafty Living (who, by the way, you should totally follow on Instagram, they post great stuff!).
  3. I don’t know about your one-year-old, but ours loves playing with recycling. I’m pretty sure it will transition into building with recycling like shown here on Busy Toddler.
  4. These games require nothing but your hands! Great ideas to have on hand for when you suddenly have to keep your toddler busy and don’t have any toys available, from And Next Comes L.
  5. I love felt boards! They’re so simple, cheap and versatile. Buggy and Buddy shows you how to make one.
  6. This poking bin looks like a lot of fun for older one-year-olds and beyond, from Busy Toddler again (can you tell yet I’m a huge Busy Toddler fan these days?!)

DIY with Boxes

We’re actually moving soon and so our house will be filled with boxes for the next couple of months while we pack and then unpack. Since we’ll have so many boxes on hand I wanted to find some ideas for playing with them with my favorite one-year-old.

  1. First of all, Moving Smart has this post after my own heart on the ways children can learn with cardboard boxes and why they are so wonderful.
  2. We played in an infant classroom recently that had a ball pit and Sol loved it so much, I think we may have to get ball pit balls just for something like this, from Carrots are Orange.
  3. Where Imagination Grows has this adorable idea for putting lights through the cardboard on the box! This would be great for younger one-year-olds and even little babies.
  4. I’m in love with this idea of cutting holes to drop balls, and since Sol is in love with balls right now I think we’ll have to try it: from Child Central Station.
  5. She Knows has a tutorial on making a collapsible and adorable little house/fort with cardboard boxes.
  6. Here are 5 DIY toys you can make with cardboard boxes that you may not want to recycle after a couple of days! Rounded up at Petit and Small.

I have more easy DIY toy ideas pinned onto this Pinterest board:


In our family, this one deserves its own category. My husband and I have spent many Friday and Saturday evenings building forts together. For some reason, we haven’t built one with Sol yet! That will be changing this year.

  1. Use large binder clips to clip sheets and blankets as needed.
  2. Put a couple of large sheets or blankets on the table: bam, easy fort under the table.
  3. If you can hang the sheets from the ceiling, it makes a big difference! We used to live in a place where we had hooks on the ceiling for hanging plants. We would take the plants down and tie the tops of our sheets to them. It was like a deluxe standing fort!
  4. Again with the cardboard boxes! This time, with a fort. I remember doing just this after moving day when I was a kid! From Smile and Wave.
  5. For a more permanent fort with PVC pipe, check out this tutorial from It’s Great to Be Home.
  6. I’ve been following Fort Magic on Instagram for a while and I’m tempted to make a purchase! They have super versatile pieces to make forts with, with lots of ideas from castles to rocket ships to igloos. Even if you don’t buy anything from them, I recommend checking out all their fort play ideas!
  7. Buzzfeed has a tutorial on beginner level basics of fort building. Looks like a good place to cozy up with a book!
  8. I heard about this kind of fort recently and had to look it up on Wiki-How. Apparently, you can “build” a fort with just a fan and a sheet! I may have to try this.
  9. If you don’t want to build a whole fort and have a good hallway for it, this is an adorable DIY project with fabric and tension rods from Ikat Bag.

One-year-old is an interesting and busy age. Here is the second half of a massive list of activities to do with a one-year old. Includes nature play, DIY toys, forts and much more!


A lot of the activities on this list help develop a one-year-old’s fine motor skills, but we’ll also be focusing on it more directly with some activities like these.

(Fine motor skills refers to anything that uses their little muscles in their hands and fingers.)

  1. This post has 67 Playful Ways to Boost Fine Motor Skills. Some of them are for older children, but a lot can be scaled down for a one-year-old.
  2. Introduce stickers
  3. Hello Bee has 5 fine motor play works for toddlers, Montessori style.
  4. Imagination Tree (one of my all-time favorite blogs since my teaching days!) has 15 fine motor ideas for your one-year-old.
  5. I’ve known 18-24-month-olds that can start dressing themselves! That definitely helps with fine motor skills. Learn more about how dressing themselves helps with development here.
  6. Some materials to promote fine motor skills:


Isn’t it amazing to look at your one-year-old waddling around and thing only a year ago they couldn’t even hold up their head? I plan to give Sol many opportunities to practice his large aka gross motor skills.

(Large motor skills are anything that uses their “large” muscles: legs, arms, torso, etc.)

  1. Yoga with your toddler! What an adorable co-play activity, from Nerdy Mamma.
  2. Using PVC pipes, Doman Mom has some fabulous ways to create indoor play structures for your one-year-old.
  3. Have a play tunnel? Here are 12 tunnel games to play with it, from Can Do Kiddo.
  4. This penguin waddle race from Brilliant Beginnings Preschool is pretty adorable! I think an older one-year-old could find it pretty silly and fun.
  5. Hands On We Grow has a huge archive of gross / large motor activities for kids. There are several in there that are appropriate for one-year-olds.

One-year-old is an interesting and busy age. Here is the second half of a massive list of activities to do with a one-year old. Includes nature play, DIY toys, forts and much more!


We’re outdoorsy people. My husband and I were friends until he moved into a tent in the woods and I thought “Wow, this man is passionate and woodsy!” and then we became boyfriend/girlfriend! After a year of dating, we moved into a van together and spent 3 months traveling the western united states, camping, and hiking.

It’s only natural we’re exposing our son to nature and the great outdoors!

  1. Learn more about why outside play is so important here.
  2. Hiking on trails
  3. Walks in the parks
  4. Learn more about Exploring vs. Observing Nature, from Simple as That.
  5. Flower arranging
  6. Collecting rocks to paint and play with
  7. Collecting sea shells at the beach to play with
  8. Camping in a tent
  9. Bubbles are great to play with outside. Left Brain Craft Brain has 20 things to do with them.
  10. If you have the space for it in your yard, these road tracks would be fun to build and play with. From Buggy and Buddy.
  11. Creative Family Fun has 10 great ideas on how to explore nature in the Winter!
  12. My one-year-old will inevitably start putting things from nature in his pockets and carrying them home. Why not mix it in with indoor play, like Playdough? From Picklebums.
  13. I’ve had this nature bracelet idea pinned on Pinterest for a long time. Super cute! From Pass the Cereal.
  14. If you’re looking to get some gardening done and need something for your toddler to do, this post from Family Food Garden will be helpful to you.
  15. Looking to set up a natural play space in your backyard? or playground at a school or daycare, check this inspiration out from Modern Parents Messy Kids.

If that’s not enough ideas for outdoors with children, check out my Pinterest board all about it!:

One-year-old is an interesting and busy age. Here is the second half of a massive list of activities to do with a one-year old. Includes nature play, DIY toys, forts and much more!



We’re nuts about reading in our household. Right now his shelves are full of board books and it will stay that way for the beginning of the year! But as he gets older, I’m excited to start reading to him longer story books and paper books.

  1. We’ll work on building our Intentional Bookshelf.
  2. We’ll tell stories without books, maybe using something like this storytelling basket from Imagination Tree.
  3. My Bored Toddler rounded up 50 great toddler books, and I can vouch for most of them!
  4. Adventure in a Box also rounded up 50+ great toddler books worth checking out.
  5. Addison Reads is a great blog to peruse for books reviews for young children (and the author is the author of The Intentional Bookshelf!)
  6. I often post photos of books we’re loving on my Instagram!
    *Update* These are the books our little guy has loved the most in his first year. I recommend getting these in board book style if you can. Currently he’s almost 2 and can *almost* look at a paper book without help.


Most children don’t get really into dramatic play until closer to their 2nd birthday, but they can still enjoy the toys and materials and get introduced to it. Sol loved the pretend food set at his infant co-op, so that will definitely be part of his dramatic play materials

  1. I love all those adorable kitchen sets people build out of old furniture, but this pack-away kitchen set using a storage bin is probably more do-able, from Printable Cuttable Creatables.
  2. This kitchen set idea also looks pretty simple, using plastic storage drawers, from Pineapples and Pinecones.
  3. Our one-year-old has loved every dollhouse he’s ever met, so I may make him one from an old bookshelf, like this adorable one from Simple as That.
  4. This camping dramatic play set up could be great for a one-year-old, especially before going camping.
  5. I think Sol would love this office dramatic play set up, from Be Brave, Keep Going.

I have way more ideas than I can share in this post, here’s my Pinterest board for more inspiration!

Whew! OK, that was a lot, and it barely scratched the surface of what one-year-olds are capable of and interested in. I may have to do parts three and four by the end of the year!

I will likely be adding to both parts of this post as time goes on, so make sure you pin it and check back later!

One-year-old is an interesting and busy age. Here is the second half of a massive list of activities to do with a one-year old. Includes nature play, DIY toys, forts and much more!

Write a comment