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.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Best Toy Free Ways to Entertain a One Year Old

  1. T.G.

    I saw this on another blog, but thought you’d enjoy (I’d share a link but don’t remember the name of the blog!). She suggested taking a Simply Orange juice container, cutting a square out of the side, and using it for a clothes pin drop. My kiddo plays with it ALL the time, and it’s a GREAT fine motor activity! (Just be careful when you’re cutting out the square-it can be a little tricky.) He takes the clothes pins out of the side, then puts them down through the mouth of the bottle. We also saved another bigger orange juice bottle with a handle and a spout, and he loves that as well. Empty Kleenex boxes are also very fun! Hope that helps!

    Reply
    1. Teacher Mom Post author

      Great ideas! Buddy has a Kleenex box of scraps of fabric that he played with when he was younger, and he just rediscovered it tonight. I’m sure he’d love the clothes pin drop! We may have to give it a try this weekend.

      Reply

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