best-toy-free-ways-to-entertain-a-one-year-old

Best Toy Free Ways to Entertain a One Year Old

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Buddy just turned 17 months yesterday. (Where has the time gone?) As Buddy gets older, he’s become more vocal about his preferences. He wants to eat his favorite foods and nothing else. He wants to read the same books over and over. And he wants to decide what to play with. (Ah… life with a one year old.) The interesting thing is, right now, Buddy doesn’t really want to play with toys.

The bookshelf in Buddy’s room has four bins of toys. One bin has electronic toys, two bins have non-electronic toys, and the final bin has non-toys. Buddy’s current favorite bin by far is the bin of non-toys. (The electronic toys bin is his least favorite bin, which is interesting…) I’ve blogged about some of these repurposed-for-fun activities before, but I thought it might be handy to have several of these ideas in one place. I’m sure I’m not the only mom constantly on the lookout for new playthings that already exist in my house.

Pom poms

Buddy practicing pouring with pom poms.

Buddy practicing pouring with pom poms.

There are a million ideas on Pinterest for toddler pom play for a reason. Toddlers love pom poms. The cup of poms is usually the first non-toy of choice for Buddy, and we’ve played with them in a lot of different ways. We’ve pushed them into a snack container and put them through paper towel tubes. We’ve even done a small portable pom container on an airplane. Right now, Buddy loves pouring them into containers, on himself, or on me. He sometimes puts them into an ice cube tray and then pours them on himself. The trickiest thing about poms with this age is they look tasty, so they must be closely supervised. The rule at our house is if the pom goes in the mouth, they are put away for the rest of the day.

Pouring poms is so much fun!

Pouring poms is so much fun!

Straws and a water bottle

water-bottle-straws

Putting straws in the bottle requires a lot of concentration.

I go into more detail about this activity in this blog post, but I just cut straws down to fit in an old water bottle. Buddy can play with these for a long time. He loves the sound they make when they’re in the bottle. Sometimes, he hands the bottle to me to blow across, and he loves that noise too. This was a great travel activity for us last weekend. I always drink out a water bottle when I travel, so I just packed the straws and used the water bottle once I was done with it.

Lids and containers

container-hat

Wow! This is so much fun!

Sometimes we play with lids and containers together, and sometimes we play with them separately. Buddy loves putting things into containers and using them as drums or as a hat. He also enjoys trying to put the lids onto the container.

Playing with lids is a great high chair activity.

Playing with lids is a great high chair activity.

Pans

Listen to that noise! It's great!

Listen to that noise! It’s great!

We have an old cake pan and an old muffin tin that live in Buddy’s room. Usually we use the cake pan for magnet play, like we did in this Chicka Chicka Boom Boom activity. However, sometimes Buddy just likes to bang on it like a drum or put other things into it. The muffin tin is usually used for putting in balls or animals like we did in this activity.

Getting ready to pour out the balls.

Getting ready to pour out the balls.

Cotton balls

Look at these snowballs!

Look at these snowballs!

These actually don’t live in Buddy’s room because they leave lint all over the carpet. But they are a lot of fun, and Buddy loves playing with them. Usually, we do this as a transfer activity between two bins.

Water

Cups and water are so fun.

Cups and water are so fun!

We have played with water outside in our water table, as well as inside in pans. (The picture above is from our Making Rain activity.) Buddy is especially excited about pouring water out of a cup, and he can do this forever. It can get messy, but it’s always worth the hassle.

Of course, Buddy still  loves playing with actual toys, but most of the time, the above items are his first choice. If you have any other ideas for untraditional play items, please leave a comment. I’m always looking for new ideas.

 

 

Open the Barn Door Animal Activity - a great reading activity for a one year old

Open the Barn Door Animal Activity

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Disclaimer – this post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to purchase something using these links, I will receive a small commission. 

Even though my themed summer days are over, I still want to do some Time to Read Tuesday activities. Right now, Buddy is really into lift the flap books, so I chose Open the Barn Door to read. Buddy loves the flaps and the animals in this book! We read it together before I showed him the animal activity.

I put together a farm play area with some farm animal toys, the bucket from our Fisher Price Baby’s First Blocks, and some “hay” made of shredded paper. Buddy loves his farm animal toys and putting things in different containers, so I knew he’d enjoy this activity. I wasn’t sure how he’d react to the shredded paper, but I thought it would be a fun sensory activity for him.

Buddy was excited when he first saw the farm scene, but he wasn’t sure about the shredded paper. He started by just pulling out all of the animals out of the paper. He didn’t want to touch the paper at all! As he pulled out the animals, we talked about the animal’s name and found it in the book.

Animal activity first

Wow! Look at all these animals!

Checking out the cow in the book.

Checking out the cow in the book.

After I pulled out the red bucket from the paper, Buddy immediately started filling it up with animals. His favorite thing to do with these animals is to put them in their tube and spill them out again, so I figured he’d be interested in doing that with a different container. He spent a lot of time filling up the bucket with the animals and pouring it on himself.

Animals in bucket

I was amazed that Buddy wasn’t interested in the paper at all. We did our activity in the kitchen because I expected a huge mess. In fact, if I hadn’t interfered at all, Buddy would have just played with the animals and ignored the paper. But I wanted Buddy to explore in the paper, so I took his animals and buried them in the “hay”. He initially was nervous about digging in the paper to get them, but eventually he started having fun with the paper too.

Having fun with shredded paper

Playing with paper

Paper everywhere

In the end, it did make a mess, but it was easy to sweep up. Buddy had a lot of fun with his animals and a new sensory material. If you have any other ideas for sensory bins, please share in the comments. I hope to do another one soon.

Easter Egg Musical Shakers

Easter Egg Musical Shakers

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The first week of school is finally over, and things are starting to settle down. Thankfully, that means I’ll have a little more time for fun, new activities with Buddy and blogging about them.

I first made these Easter egg shakers last Easter. He loves anything that makes sounds, so I filled his eggs with different materials. (I knew if he found eggs and they didn’t make sound, he wouldn’t be interested in them.) I filled the eggs with different materials. Some had a couple bells, some had pony beads, and some had rice. Buddy loved them and were a highlight of our Easter celebration.  At the time, I sealed them with Gorilla Glue, but Buddy broke into all of them. Since the fillings are a choking hazard, I had to put them away until they could be fixed.

Easter

Buddy last Easter. He’s so little here!

Last weekend, I finally got around to fixing the Easter Egg Shakers. I used superglue to seal three of the eggs. The other two eggs were left empty, so Buddy can take them apart and put them together. I put all of the eggs in an old egg carton because I know how much Buddy loves putting things in containers.

Buddy was so excited to see the eggs, and he immediately started shaking them. He loves the different sounds they make! He was a little disappointed with the empty eggs, but it was fun for him to figure out which ones were musical.

Egg shakers

Buddy really enjoyed putting the eggs in the egg carton and taking them out again. He also liked opening and closing the carton. The egg carton definitely enhanced his playtime with the eggs.

Egg sorting

After a little while, Buddy  decided to start pouring them over his head like he did with the balls in the muffin tin. (Is it just my kid that thinks this is fun?)

Pouring eggs on head

Buddy and I had a lot of fun with the eggs, and the egg carton made them easy to store until our next playtime. Hopefully, I’ll be able to fill the last few eggs with different sounds soon.

Balls in Muffin Tin

Repurposed for Fun: Balls in a Muffin Tin

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Buddy and I went back to school this week, which means we have less time to do fun activities together. However, I do want to continue finding fun new activities for him. Today, I pulled out an old muffin tin and some of Buddy’s balls. Buddy loves balls of all kinds, but these Bright Start balls and the Munchkin bath balls (affiliate links) are his favorites. I put one ball in each cup, and then I handed it over to Buddy.

Balls in Muffin Tin 2

Lately, Buddy has been putting his balls in a small plastic boat or a cup and pouring it over his head. (It doesn’t make sense to me, but when you’re 16 months, it makes perfect sense and it’s hilarious.) I was curious to see if he’d do something similar with a full tin of balls, and sure enough, that’s what he did first.

Muffin tin on head

Buddy had a great time! He loved putting the balls in the tin and pouring them out again. He also loved hearing the balls rattle around in the tin. Buddy handed the tin to me several times because he wanted me to put in more balls.

Putting balls in tin

Spilled balls

We have a separate bin for untraditional play things in Buddy’s room. I put the muffin tin there, so it will be quick and easy for us to grab when we want to use it again. (We have a nicer one I use for baking. This one is almost only used for play.)

Do you have any other ideas for play using a muffin tin? If so, please share in the comments. I’d love to hear them.

chicka chicka boom boom magnet activity

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Magnet Activity

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Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 

For this week’s Time to Read Tuesday, I chose an activity for the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. We hadn’t read this book in awhile, so I thought it would be fun to pull out to reread. Originally, I saw the idea of using letter magnets with a cut out tree on I Heart Crafty Things’ blog. I already had magnetic letters, construction paper, and an old pan, so it didn’t take long to put this activity together.

I started by grabbing an old pan from Buddy’s room. We already use this pan for play purposes only, so I wasn’t worried about wrecking it. Next, I sketched a coconut tree onto construction paper and cut it out. (I didn’t have brown paper, so I had to use white for the trunk.) I’m not the best artist, but I figured my picture would be just fine for Buddy. Finally, I used double sided tape to make my tree stick to the pan.

Buddy and I read the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom together before we started the activity. I pointed out each letter while reading the book and again at the end of the book. Then, I gave Buddy the pan and magnetic letters. We have played with magnets many times before, so Buddy knew how to stick them to the pan. However, since these magnets were new for Buddy, he was really excited about them.

Letter magnets

As Buddy pulled out each letter, I said the letter. I made some of the letters “run to the top of the coconut tree”. We also said “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” a few times as we were pulling out the letters.

Letter magnets 2

Buddy played with these magnets for a really long time. He loved them! Eventually, he decided he was more interested in the tree and pulled it off of the pan. While this wasn’t part of my intended activity, Buddy enjoyed it.

pulling off paper

I’m sure we will do this book and activity again when Buddy is older and understands the letters. With an older child, I would match the letters to the pictures in the book. However, I didn’t do this with Buddy because I knew it would be too much for him.

Washing toy cars

Washing Toy Cars

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On Water Wednesday, I wanted to do a new water play activity. I saw the idea of doing a car wash on Things to Share and Remember. Buddy loves playing with water and cars, so a toy car wash seemed like a good thing to try.

To create the car wash, I put dish soap and water in a glass baking pan. I did this so I could easily pour out the soapy water at the end. The washing tools we used were a sponge cut in half and a microfiber towel. Since Buddy still crawls everywhere,  I put everything on a towel to make it a little more comfortable. I set up our water table as well, because I figured Buddy would eventually want more water to play with.

Car wash set up

Buddy was very interested in the bin of cars, but he wasn’t sure what to do with the water at first. After I showed him how to wash the cars, he was interested in trying.

washing cars

I was glad I cut the sponge in half, because the smaller sponges were easy for Buddy to hold. Playing with the sponges was Buddy’s favorite part. He’d never held a sponge before, and he spent a lot of time just squeezing the water on his leg.

washing cars 3

It was great to have a sitting water activity, because it allowed us to play for much longer than if we’d done it in the water table. When Buddy got antsy, we stood up and played in the water table. When his legs got tired, we sat back down with the car wash. Between the two activities, we played for more than an hour.

water table play

We love our water table (affiliate link), and the rain cups from the making rain activity continue to be one of his favorite water toys. These cups moved from the water table to the car wash, and Buddy loved making it rain on the cars.

Overall, it was a successful Water Wednesday, and I hope to do a car wash again soon. We might even try washing some animals or other plastic toys. If you have any fun water activities, I’d love to hear them.

Colors reading and sorting activity

Colors Reading and Sorting Activity

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Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you use the link to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. 

For this week’s Time to Read Tuesday, I chose to read books with a colors theme. I had planned to read Little Owl’s Colors and Hello World New York: A Book of Colors. Earlier that day, Buddy finished the library reading program and his final prize was another book about colors, Amazing Machines: Colors.

I wasn’t sure if Buddy would be able to sort colors, but I wanted to try. He often picks out blue toys for playing, so I chose blue and red toys to sort. I picked some of his favorite toys: B. Toys Squeeze Blocks, Measure Up Cups, and Fisher Price Baby’s First Blocks. I also included some attribute links that were blue and red. I used the red tub from the Fisher Price blocks for the red shapes and a blue tub for the blue shapes.

I started by reading the books with Buddy. We looked at the pictures and talked about the colors on each page. He saw the basket of red and blue items, and he was really excited to play with them. I should have hidden the basket while we read, because he wanted to play with the toys instead of read.

I gave Buddy the basket of items and the two colored tubs. He was really excited about going through the basket and pulling out the toys.He was especially interested in the attribute links because he hadn’t seen them since our shapes reading activity. As he pulled out each toy, we talked about its color.

Sorting colors 2

Buddy struggled with sorting the toys, but he enjoyed the activity anyway. I eventually put all the red toys together and all the blue toys together myself. Then we looked at each tub, so Buddy could get a better idea of what each color looked like. After that, he pulled them out and played with them again.

Sorting colors 3

I will try this activity again in a couple months when Buddy is ready to sort by color. If you have any ideas for other fun color activities, I’d love to hear them.

Airplane Activities for a One Year Old

Airplane Activities for a One Year Old

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Disclosure – this blog post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to purchase something using one of these links, I will receive a small commission. 

My husband and I have always loved to travel. Since Hubby works for an airline, we fly often. I’m happy to say that hasn’t changed much since we’ve had Buddy. (Although now we usually travel to see family instead of traveling to new places.)

Even though this was Buddy’s fifth trip involving air travel, Hubby and I were nervous. Buddy is 15 months old, and our last plane trip was several months ago when he wasn’t as mobile. Now that Buddy is used to moving around a lot, it’s hard for him to sit still for a long time. I spent a long time looking for ideas for one year olds to do on planes. However, a lot of ideas I found (coloring books, DVD players, etc.) were better for slightly older kids. Eventually, I found a bunch of small activities for our trip.

Before we got on the plane, I didn’t pull out any of the travel toys. I wanted to keep those for times when Buddy had to sit still. At every airport (we had three different flights on this trip), we looked for seats by a window with empty space. We let Buddy crawl around to burn off energy. He spent hours watching the planes through the window. Another game he loved was stroller basketball. We took our bag from dinner and crumpled it into a ball. Buddy loves balls, and so he loved this “ball” too. He put it in the stroller’s basket over and over again. Our first flight was delayed by four hours, and Buddy was entertained that whole time by these activities (and eating too).

Buddy loves watching the planes.

Buddy loves watching the planes.

I brought a ton of small activities for the plane. Our first and last flight were both over four hours, and I anticipated that Buddy would be awake for most of that time. Our second flight was much shorter (an hour and a half), but I still wanted new activities for that time. In the end, we didn’t need a lot of these activities. Our four hour delay meant that our first flight left hours after Buddy’s bedtime, so he slept that whole flight. He also slept for half of the short flight and more than an hour of the last flight. Luckily, we didn’t need everything, but I was happy to have more activities than I needed.

On each flight, I packed a pencil pouch of small activities and a gallon sized ziplock with a few larger items that didn’t fit in the pouch. I had another gallon sized ziplock in my suitcase of things to switch out for new flights.

Here is what ended up in the pencil pouch for our last flight:

Airplane activities 2

  • Pencil pouch – This was intended to be an activity as well as a holder of other activities. I added a carabiner to clip onto the seat back pocket for easy access. Buddy enjoyed pulling the zippers and pulling things out of the pockets.
  • Cubs teether
  • Post it notes – Fun to put on and pull off of the seat.
  • Dinosaur light up toy from the dollar store
  • Small slinky
  • Police car from dollar store
  • Poms container – This was a salad dressing dispenser from the dollar store and a few pom poms. I wanted to make a travel size version of this activity. This was Buddy’s favorite thing to do on the plane. He loved putting the poms in the container. He also loved trying to put the cap on the container.
  • Koosh ball
  • Penguin toy – We got this as a souvenir on our trip.
  • Finger puppets
  • Measuring tape from the dollar store – Buddy liked pulling out the tape and letting it go back in. He also liked shaking it to hear the noise of the keychain on the box.
  • Small board books – One of these was an old favorite and one was new. The new vehicle books were bought here.
  • Painters tape wrapped around a folded piece of paper. I ripped off tape to put on the back of the seat, and Buddy pulled it off the seat. We actually didn’t use this on this trip, but it was a huge hit on previous trips.
  • Pipe cleaner with some beads to slide around.
  • Altoids tin with cut out stickers and a small notepad. Buddy liked to hold the stickers, but he wasn’t interested in actually putting them on the notepad. He also liked dumping them out everywhere and opening and closing the tin.

This is what the pouch looked like when it was filled.

Airplane activity bag

Here are the additional activities from the gallon ziplock bags:

Airplane activities 3

  • Quiet Book – This was the main thing in the extra ziplock bag. (I was pretty sad that it didn’t fit in the pouch.) If you want to know more about this quiet book and how I made it, read my blog post about it here.
  • Pill case (from the dollar store) filled with snacks
  • Indestructible books – These are one of my favorite travel toys because they take up no space and can’t be wrecked.
  • Bath book from the dollar store
  • Animal chip clips from the dollar store – Buddy loves animals and he really enjoyed these. I brought an index card to clip them on, but we found other things to clip them on as well. Buddy really liked putting them in our empty drink cups, shaking them up, and pouring them out again.
  • Empty easter egg – Buddy enjoyed breaking it open and putting it together again.
  • Playing cards from the dollar store – When we have played with cards before, Buddy liked pulling them out of the box, holding them, and trying to fold them. I bought Pup Patrol ones because he loves dogs. We actually didn’t play with these, but I’m sure we will on our next trip.
  • Button snake with felt scraps – I thought Buddy would enjoy pulling the felt off and putting them on, but he wasn’t really interested. I think he’ll like this more when he’s old enough to practice buttoning.
  • Bead necklace
  • Window gel clings – This was another favorite of Buddy’s. He loved putting them on the window and taking them off. I got these at the Target dollar section, but you can get similar ones here.
  • Small container with a ribbon of buttons and bells – Buddy played with this for a long time. He liked shaking it and hearing the noise of the bells. He liked taking the ribbon out and putting it back in the container. He also liked putting the lid on the container.
  • Extra small books

Not pictured:

  • My phone with a few baby game apps
  • My Kindle with picture ebooks checked out from the library
  • Extra snacks and sippy cup
  • Stuffed monkey

We also had a lot of fun just pulling out the cards and magazines from the back of the seat. Buddy did this for a long time. He also liked stacking our cups after we were done with our drinks. He also liked looking at the people around us and waving at them.

If you have any other ideas for activities, I’d love to hear them!

The Snowy Day Indoor Snow Activity

The Snowy Day Indoor Snow Activity

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For last week’s Time to Read Tuesday, I was looking for a quick and easy reading activity. I was busy packing for our trip (and finishing my quiet book), so I didn’t have time to prepare a reading activity during Buddy’s nap time. I saw the book The Snowy Day in a box of books and thought that Buddy would love to play in “snow”.

We started by reading The Snowy Day together. We looked at the pictures and talked a lot about snow. Then I pulled out a bunch of cotton balls and two plastic tubs. We went back to look at the pictures again, and pretended that the cotton balls were the snow balls from the book.

Snowy Day Reading

After that, I let Buddy play independently with the cotton balls. He had so much fun! We’ve played with cotton balls a few months ago, so I knew he would love it. Buddy put them from one container to another, poured them out, and tried to pull them apart. From time to time, he went back to look at the book’s pictures on his own.

Snowy Day Reading 2

Snowy Day Reading 3

Buddy had so much fun with the cotton balls that we pulled them out again the next day. It was such an easy activity and so much fun!

My quiet book

My Quiet Book

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We’re back home from our week long vacation, and now I finally have the time to blog about my big project. I made a quiet book for Buddy to play with on the plane. I found so many great ideas for quiet book pages on Pinterest, and I was able to come up with some of my own ideas as well.

Here is a quick overview of each of my pages. Please comment if you would like me to give more details on how I created each one.

Monster Peek a Boo Page

Monster peek a boo quiet book pageThis one I made up on my own. I saw two cute waving monster iron-on patches at Jo Ann Fabrics, and Buddy really liked them. They reminded me a little of the monsters from Monsters Inc., which made me think about putting them behind doors. One opens from the bottom, and one opens from the side. I used an embroidery stitch on my sewing machine to add some interest to each door. I ironed the monsters on the felt by putting a thin pressing cloth on top of the felt. I also used glittery fabric paint for the writing. Buddy enjoyed playing peek a boo with both monsters.

 

Jellyfish Page

Jellyfish counting quiet book page

There are a ton of pages similar to this one on Pinterest. I added a part of a cereal bag behind the jellyfish to make it crinkly. (I know it’s a quiet book, but Buddy loves things that make noise.) I used scotch tape to hold the jellyfish legs in place before I sewed them down. I used fabric glue to hold on the google eyes and puffy fabric paint for the smile and numbers. Buddy really enjoyed sliding the beads up and down each leg.

Wheels on the Bus Page

Wheels on the bus quiet book page

Buddy’s favorite song is Wheels on the Bus, and we have a pop up book of the song that he loves. He especially loves spinning the wheels in that book, but unfortunately they are paper, so they bend easily. I wanted to make a similar page in the quiet book that he wouldn’t be able to break. The wheels are  made of an extra firm felt. They are removable, and they can spin. The headlight is a button, and the rest of the bus was made using this pattern. Buddy enjoyed spinning the wheels, but not as much as he does in the book at home.

Who is in the Grass Page

Grass quiet book page
I saw a similar idea on Pinterest, but there wasn’t a pattern or template for it. I bought a bunch of cute buttons to go in the grass (bunnies, lady bugs, and ducks). I cut the grass in strips and sewed them on the background before I stitched the buttons in the grass. I used puffy paint for the writing. Buddy really likes this page, but he wants to pull the buttons off the page.

Dog Finger Puppets Page

Dog finger puppet quiet book pageI saw pages of farm animal finger puppets, and I realized how much Buddy would love puppets that were dogs. (He loves dogs!) I found a free template for the finger puppets here. I originally wanted to use my sewing machine to put the dogs together, but I found that hand stitching worked better. I used fabric glue to hold the fence together, and then I used my machine to sew the perimeter onto the background. This was Buddy’s favorite page by far. He loves those little dogs.

I put all of the pages on binder rings so that I can add to the book next summer (or whenever I find time to make more pages). For now, I’ll save this book for our trips or times when I need Buddy to be quiet and seated for awhile. It’s not perfect, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.