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12 Fun Activities for 1-Year-Olds

Activities provided by Productive Parenting. To receive additional daily activities based on your child's age, visit ProductiveParenting.com.

Block Box
teaching body parts

Kathryn Gamble Lozier

Materials You Will Need: shoebox with lid, wooden blocks (square, cylinder, triangle, and rectangle), marker, scissors

What to Do: Playing with shapes prepares your child for math. Place each block on top of the shoebox lid and trace, then cut around the outline of the shapes. After placing the lid on the box, you and your child can have fun poking the shapes through the holes, opening the lid, and taking the shapes in and out of the box. Let your child explore with the block box. One day your child will discover which blocks fit in which openings.

Skills Learned: Eye-hand Coordination, matching, size and shape discrimination, visual discrimination

Shape Spy

Materials You Will Need: cardboard, scissors

What to Do: Visual discrimination is an important pre-reading skill for your child. Cut shapes (triangle, circle, square, rectangle) out of cardboard. Have your child's fingers trace around each shape. Begin to hunt around your home for each shape. For a circle, for instance, point out bicycle tires, clock faces, circle picture frames, and end tables with tops in the shape of a circle. Encourage your child to feel the shapes. Continue with the other shapes.

Skills Learned: Matching, visual discrimination

Color Mixing

Materials You Will Need: food coloring (yellow, red, blue), two clear containers of water

What to Do: Watch your child's excitement with this color activity. Have your child squeeze the blue food coloring into the clear container of water. Say, "blue." Then ask your child to pick up the red coloring and squeeze it into the same container, saying "red." Then say the name of the new color, "purple." Continue with yellow and blue, making green in the other water container.

Skills Learned: Concept development

Learning Language and Vocabulary

Head to Toes

Materials You Will Need: Stickers

What to Do: Help your child become more acquainted with body parts with this activity and song. Place colorful stickers or dots above your eyes, on your forehead, ears, nose, shoulders, knees, and all ten toes. Do the same for your child. Stand up and sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" as you touch the corresponding stickers.

Variations: Place dots on the body parts with nontoxic felt-tip pens in lieu of stickers. Add other parts to the song: arms, legs, chest, neck, hands, feet, and back.

Skills Learned: Body awareness, language development, visual discrimination

Bowling for Letters

Materials You Will Need: Magnetic letters, small ball

What to Do: Help your toddler begin to recognize letters with this activity. Set up some magnetic letters on a floor without carpet. Have your toddler knock the letters over with a small rubber ball. As the ball hits a letter, name it.

Skills Learned: Eye-hand coordination, problem solving, visual tracking

Weather Book

Materials You Will Need: Pictures of sunny, snowy, cloudy, and rainy days; album

What to Do: Children love to have books made especially for them. Place a weather picture with a caption on the left page of the album. Write your child's favorite activities on these days on the right page. Make a Weather Book to enjoy reading to your child.

Skills Learned: Language development, concept development

Rolling Balls

Materials You Will Need: Balls, laundry basket

What to Do: Children love playing with balls of all shapes and sizes. Select several balls of various sizes and place them in a laundry basket. Have your child sit across from you on the floor. Roll one ball at a time to your child and encourage your child to roll it back to you. Describe the movement of each ball, dependent on its size and shape.

Skills Learned: Grasp and release, tactile stimulation, visual tracking

Red Light, Green Light

Materials You Will Need: Construction paper, red and green markers

What to Do: The ability to follow directions is an important life skill. This game will help you introduce the concept. Cut two circles out of construction paper and color one green and the other red. Explain the meaning of each sign. Have your child run from one end of the room to the other and flash the sign as you say "red Light" and "green light."

Variations: Laminate the traffic lights. Your child will hold the signs up for you to follow when ready.

Skills Learned: Gross motor, listening

Follow the Butterfly

Materials You Will Need: Flashlight, cardboard, tape, scissors

What to Do: As your child becomes more mobile, games of chase and catch become more and more fun. Cut out a butterfly or other bug shape from cardboard to fit over the lens of a flashlight. Tape the shape to the lens. Turn off the lights in the room and shine the flashlight at the wall next to your child. Move the light slowly along the wall and encourage your child to catch the butterfly; then move the light slowly away as your child approaches it and tries to catch it.

Variations: Let your child play with the flashlight.

Skills Learned: Object permanence, problem solving, visual development, visual tracking

Pop the Bubbles

Materials You Will Need: Bubble makers, bubbles

What to Do: Your child will delight in watching you blow bubbles. Encourage your child to pop them. Find a space where you can make many bubbles. (Outside is a good place, weather permitting). Enjoy watching your child visually track the bubbles and delight when the bubbles pop. Sing: "Here we go around the bubbles today. The bubbles today, the bubbles today. Here we go around the bubbles today. Pop go the bubbles!"

Skills Learned: Cause and effect, visual tracking

Animal Moves

Materials You Will Need: Pictures of animals

What to Do: Children love to pretend. Take your child on an animal walk today. Place a picture of an animal on the table and talk about it. Now show your child how the animal moves, and walk around the house moving like the animal in the picture. You can sway back and forth like an elephant, slither like a snake, run like a dog on all fours, step lightly like a cat, high step like a crane, waddle like a duck, scurry like a mouse, or move like other animals.

Variations: Show your child one of the pictures and see if he can show how the animal moves. Turn on some marching music to make the walk more fun!

Skills Learned: Creative movement, listening, visual stimulation

Set the Table

Materials You Will Need: Knife, cup, fork, plate, vinyl place mat, spoon, permanent marker

What to Do: Children love to help around the house. Let your child set the table for dinner tonight. Put the place mat on the table. On the place mat, outline the plate, cup, fork, knife, and spoon with a permanent marker. Show your child how to match the place setting to the outlines.

Skills Learned: Matching, language development, emotional development, visual development

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

These activities originally appeared on Productive Parenting and are reprinted with permission. To receive additional daily activity suggestions based on your child's age, visit www.productiveparenting.com.