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Confession time. I have been known to groan, “I am going crazy!” at certain moments during the day.
Kind of loudly.
I guess since I have a house full of little ones (6,4,3,1), the craziness is not a surprise.
What I really need is something to keep a certain 1-year-old busy when all he wants to do is hang on my leg and cry big pitiful tears.
When I’m trying to make dinner for six people.
The great thing about having four kids is that the bigger ones entertain the little ones. I’m not saying we don’t have squabbles. We do. But we also have many moments that the kids have fun together.
Like the time last week that my Six decided it was time to play school. Each of her brothers sat on a living room chair with a rhythm instrument while they had music class. They got out the play food and had snacks. They read books.
It was adorable.
But then there’s the dinner hour — long known as “the witching hour” for moms who are trying to hold it together while preparing a home cooked meal. Or a frozen pizza.
Here are five activities for 1-year-olds that keep my toddler busy and happy.
1- Contact paper craft
I love clear contact paper. If you peel off the backing and tape it to your table with masking tape (sticky side up), you provide a fun work surface for your toddler. Give him a pile of construction paper squares and show him how to stick them to the paper. After about ten minutes of patiently sticking the squares to the contact paper, my toddler took them all off again and put them back into the bowl. A great first craft that he can do all by himself!
2 – Poke pom poms through holes
I love pom poms! Once my kids get past the stage where they have to put them in their mouth (usually around 15 months at our house), these become a perfect manipulative. They’re soft, colorful, and quiet! I poked some holes into the lid of a yogurt container, and my little guy poked the pom poms through. He was most interested in turning the container upside down and trying to shake the pom poms out.
3 – Pom-poms through a paper towel tube
For 1-year-0lds, the best ideas are usually the simplest. My little guy went from crying at my leg (while his three entertainers were all at Vacation Bible School) to giggling to himself at the sheer wonder of dropping pom poms through a tube. I’ll definitely be pulling this one out again!
4 – Toss stuffed animals into the hamper
Here’s another nod to the simple ideas! I emptied the hamper, filled it with stuffed animals, and put it in the center of the living room. When my One wasn’t quite sure what to do, I dumped it out. Filling it up was great fun, and my little boy who’s never shown interest in stuffed animals found a few to cuddle.
5 – Peel masking tape off a table
I love this idea from the Stay-at-Home-Mom’s Survival Guide’s giant list of toddler activities. Many of those activities are too advanced for my 1 1/2 year old, but this one was right on target. He went right at peeling off the masking tape and trying to stick it back on again. If you have an older sibling around to reapply the tape – even better! (A word of caution – try this first on a tiny section of table to make sure it doesn’t damage your furniture. It worked great on our table, but one commenter said the paint came off hers.)
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The list is wonderful…My daughter (kiwi) loves the pom pom through the paper towel one so much…I make her do it every day…lovely ideas………….
I’m planning to try the other one’s soon..
This is Kate, Anna’s assistant. We’re so glad your daughter loves this idea! 🙂
Currently reading this with my one-year-old on my lap as supper simmers. 😉
Love the down-to-earth simplicity of these ideas.
Yes, I’ve learned that with 1-year-olds, simplest is best! 🙂
These suggestions are awesome! We have a few “busy” stations set up for our little one. He has Mickey Mouse blocks (because he loves “MICKEY!”, tools, and other blocks. He has a field day and it will keep him busy for a while if we need to do grown up things.
Thanks for the suggestions! It’s definitely about time I switch it up for him.
Erica @ thebigredpatchhouse.com
You’re welcome, Erica – thanks for reading!
I wrote a post on my blog about my experience using the Pom Poms Through a Paper Towel Tube idea. I’ve linked this post plus your website in my post. I hope you check it out. Please let me know if you want me to remove the link to your site. I can always generalize the idea instead of having to specify your name, if you’d like.
Thanks for linking back to me, Reena! I’m glad your toddler enjoyed the pom pom activity – it’s a winner :).
OMG! This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read. I’ve been saving my toilet paper and paper towel rolls, and it’s because I was meant to read this post before throwing them out! LOL
I already know that Activity #3 is going on the cupboard right beside the sink. For some reason, my son always seems to bother me when I’m washing the dishes. That’ll keep occupied.
Thank you in advance for the peace and quiet that I know is sure to come in due time!
You’re welcome, Reena – and be sure to check out my Toddler Activities Pinterest board. I collect the best ideas from other bloggers there. 🙂 https://www.pinterest.com/themeasuredmom/toddler-activities/
Im Granny, 1 st sleep over was a disaster. Did not know how to keep my 10month old granddaughter busy. Well, now she is 11 months and coming to stay over again. I have a surprise for her . Thank you for the brilliant, simple ideas.
You’re welcome, Jennifer! By the way, the little guy in the pictures is now almost 3, and his little sister (who happens to be 11 months) still puts everything in her mouth, so she wouldn’t be ready for these yet. If your granddaughter is still mouthing everything, I collect lots of good ideas on my Pinterest boards! You might want to browse them:
Really a great idea. Its a wonderful thing I would try those play ideas for my one year son to keep him busy 🙂
Hi Anna. Well done for supplying some good activities and finding the time to share them. I have 6 children under 9, youngest boy, 1.5. It is the hardest work to find things for him to do as he is very bright. A battery run bubble blower is also a fun, low outdoor energy thing to do.
You must have a very busy house! We have five under 8, which is already crazy. 😉 Thanks for the battery run bubble blower idea. Love that!
These seem like good ideas but the pom poms worry me. They look a little small and could be choking hazard. Generally, if something can fit through a toilet paper roll it is small enough for a child under three to choke on. I can totally see my 1 year old shoving one of those down his throat. I think the contact paper craft is great though! We used to do that with kids at the day care I worked for.
Hello, Risa! I certainly agree that we have to know our own child before we choose one of these activities. I didn’t try this until I knew my toddler was past the putting things in his mouth stage, but every child is different.
Thanks for the suggestions! Masking tape off a table sounds like one I will try…my little guy will love that.
It’s the simple things, right? Thank you for stopping by, Bethany!
I like the ideas!!!
Thank you, Meilyn!
my i year old didnt quite like the masking tape and it peeled off my tables paint… not cool… i would really like another sugestion!
Oh dear – sorry to hear that, Nicole! We used a play table and it came off just fine, but I see that it won’t work with every piece of furniture. I have a ton more toddler play ideas on my Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/themeasuredmom/toddler-play-ideas/
I appreciate the mention of the tape peel off activity from my page for Toddler’s! Glad it could help that “witching hour”. We experience that far too often at my house too. This list is such a great reminder how simple activities really do engage our toddlers so well. I will be trying out a couple of them with my 2 year old.
Thanks, Jaimi! Your site is such a great resource!
These are great ideas, thanks! I often put a towel down on the kitchen floor and put some flour and dried pasta, some bowls and spoons, and other kitchen utensils out for my 15 month old while I’m cooking dinner. He loves to be in te kitchen “helping” me cook!
Great ideas, Molly Kathleen! I will have to try those very soon… does my 1 year old pulling out the dried pasta from the pantry and dumping it all over the floor count? 🙂 A very recent occurrence…
I love how simple these ideas are! My older kids are OLDER (9 and 14) and I remember the days of playing school very well! Made me laugh remembering that.
I still remember playing school myself. I found my old lesson plans once — first was the “Applegalegence” 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Maureen!
Some great ideas!! I wish I had them when my four year old was one. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!
Thanks for checking it out!
Such fun, clever ideas!
I featured this at TGIF this week, Thanks for sharing your creativity & linking up. I hope to see you linked up again this week.
Have a great weekend,
Thanks for the feature, Beth! We were out of town this week – look forward to linking up next Friday!
What a great list – I think these would keep my preschoolers busy too!
Thanks so much, Lorie!
Pauline @ Lessons Learnt Journal
Oh how I love this list! Thank you for sharing it at the Kids CoOp. So thrilled to be featuring this post as part of my toys for babies roundup. xo Pauline
Thanks so much for the feature, Pauline!!
Great ideas keeping a toddler entertained! I am featuring this on iGameMom’s Mom’s Library. Thanks for sharing! http://igamemom.com/2013/07/17/fine-motor-skill-activities-moms-library/
Thank you so much!
Crystal & Co
You share such awesome activities for kids! This is a great resource for moms of little ones!
My readers loved it and you were featured here: http://www.crystalandcomp.com/2013/07/best-mom-advice-71613/.
Thanks so much for the feature, Crystal!
I love this idea! Keeping my one-year old out of the trash is a huge goal in my life right now haha. I will be using these simple, yet brilliant ideas ASAP! Thank you for this post! (I found you through the No Time For Flashcards Link-Up!)
Jaclyn M. recently posted http://alphabetobsessed.com/mom-sanity-sahm-schedule-for-mom-and-baby/
So glad you stopped by, Jaclyn! I have got to find some more of these ideas to keep my little guy out of the trash, too… so many interesting things to find in there 🙂
Thank you for these easy, quick, and simple entertainment ideas. I have a 18 month old and he is always getting into everything. these are perfect to keep him busy. I can even make the pom poms. I’m starting to get things out tonight for he can do these tomorrow. I work and go to school for nursing so this helps alot when I feel I dont entertain him enough.
Stopping by from the TGIF Linky Party. I have a 3 year old and a 9 month old and I actually think these would keep both of them entertained! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, heading now to pin. Have a good weekend!
Funny – my big kids wanted to play with the pom poms when they got home from VBS 🙂
Jana @ HowToRunAHomeDaycare
Love it, pinned it! These are great ideas for child care providers 🙂
Thanks so much for checking it out, Jana – and for the pin!
Lindsey - Seedlings Nursery School
Ok, seriously – pom-poms + paper towel tube = genius! Isn’t it amazing when you see something so simple and you can’t believe you never thought of it??!! Definitely going to use this for my 9 month old!!
Yes – why do we think so hard to find ideas for the littlest ones? But those simple ideas sometimes seem the hardest to come by – if not, my list would have been more than 5 🙂
Oh my gosh, I love these ideas! My littlest also has a bad habit of hanging on me and wailing when I’m trying to make dinner, and these are perfect! Easy to set up and I know he’ll love them. I’m pinning this!
I hope they relieve some dinner hour stress, Sarah 🙂
I have used the contact paper trick. That’s a favorite around here. (Visiting from Dollie’s link up!)
Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com
Yes, my older kids love it too. Thanks so much for stopping by, Lindsey!
These are all wonderful!!! I will be doing these with my daughter (and my son!!) Thanks for the cheap, easy ideas 🙂
You’re welcome, Amy – thanks for checking it out!
I’ve definitely tried a few of these with my little girl. She likes tossing things into the hamper AND the trash can. Thankfully nothing’s gone missing yet 🙂 I’d love to try the contact paper idea. Thanks for sharing.
Ha – we call our one year old “Hamper Boy” (as we called our three year old when he was that age) because he puts everything he finds into the hamper. I keep an eye on the trash can too!
Great list! It’s so easy to forget how the simplest things can be pulled out to help save your sanity”. Thanks for the ideas!
Yes, Kristin – and I seem to forget every day! I am thinking of putting a bin of these items in the cupboard to pull out in moments of necessity!!
Keri @ Growing in His Glory
Oh, I love these ideas! I’m going to start homeschooling our oldest in the fall and have a 1 year old, so these are perfect! Thanks! I’m a new follower from Titus 2 Tuesdays.
Bless you, Keri — even though I’ll have three boys (four kids in January, Lord willing) at home during the school days, I don’t homeschool past preschool. I always wonder how you ladies manage with older kids AND toddlers! I’ll be sure to pass along ideas as I find them — anything to make your lives easier 🙂
Sheer genius!!! My boy toddler is sooo busy! Sometimes my 8yr boy says, “He’s worn me out, Ma!” Would love more ideas like this! Thank you!
Funny quote from your 8 year old!! Believe me, I’d love more ideas like these too 🙂 I’ll keep looking and share them as I find or create them!
Angela @ Teaching Mama
I love this list! I know how busy a 1 year can be…especially while making supper! I will be pinning this. Thanks!
Hope some of them help you out, Angela 🙂 Sounds like things are starting off great with your ebook! I can’t wait to get into it myself!
I so love the idea of a hamper , hahaha, my baby keeps on hanging on my leg whenever I do something or whenever when im near him and he keeps on throwing out things outside of the door or in a trashcan . Nice work!!!
Hi Almira! The toddler I wrote this about is now 5 years old, but we have a new toddler boy now who is very into the garbage can (and the toilet, ha!). Thanks for reminding me to pull these out again.