This list of rainy day activities for 1 year olds is the best thing to have when wet, bad weather hits. No more cabin fever for your toddler!
Here in southern California, we don’t get much rain the way other parts of the country do. We even joke that a light sprinkle is enough to set Los Angelenos in a frenzy driving on the road. And given the current drought conditions, we’ve learned to value and appreciate whatever rain we get.
Still, when it does rain in any part of the country, every parent wonders what to do with the kids all day.
Even now, my kids, who love being outside, go stir-crazy when they’re cooped up indoors because of rain. You can imagine how much harder it is for the 1 year old stage, when you can’t exactly explain to your toddler why he can’t march outdoors this minute.
Or maybe your mom watches him most days, and you’re worried she needs more ideas other than plopping him in front of the television all day. He’s bored with his current toys and indoor activities—and frankly, you are, too.
You’ve even tried looking for more ideas online, but most are geared toward 2 year olds who are better at following directions. And it doesn’t help that you’re not super crafty either, or that your 1 year old doesn’t have a long attention span to create complicated art projects yet.
Instead, he’s very high energy, which makes staying indoors on a rainy day all the more challenging with him bouncing off the walls.
Rainy day activities for 1 year olds at home
So, what rainy day activities for 1 year olds can you do? And how can you keep your toddler busy on a rainy day?
No worries, friend—you’ve come to the right place! Below, I share my favorite rainy day activities for 1 year olds. These are perfect for that “no longer a baby but not yet a big toddler” stage. The list also includes a wide range of toddler activities for high-energy kids, and even if you don’t think your child likes crafts.
And sometimes you simply need a comprehensive list to get you unstuck from a rut. You might “know” about these activities—you may have even done them in the past—but hopefully you’ll be inspired to do them again.
It’s also okay to cycle through the same activities. They might seem repetitive and basic to you, but can be enjoyable for your little one. So, take a look at these activities, categorized by different types to suit you and your 1 year old’s mood:
Playing with toys
- Bring toys to life. Play with the same toys but in a new way, like making silly voices for his stuffed animals or bringing villagers in his train set to life.
- Rotate toys. If your 1 year old is easily bored with toys, it’s likely because he has too many. Instead, put some toys away so that the next time you bring them out to play with, they seem “new” and exciting. This also leaves less of a mess when most of the toys are stored for later use.
- Take all the toys out of a box. He may not pay attention to his toy box with everything in it, but the minute you dump it all out onto the floor, you can bet he’ll start playing with his toys.
- Bring outdoor toys inside. Place his inflatable mini pool or even his slide indoors.
- Bathe with water toys. Introduce water-friendly toys into the bath for bath time fun.
- Build with blocks. Do you have boxes of building toys like wooden blocks? Bring them out to create new masterpieces.
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- Roll a ball back and forth. Sit far apart from your 1 year old and roll a soft ball to each other.
- Play “fetch.” She may not be able to catch a ball with clear precision, but he can certainly run and grab a ball that you toss in his direction. This is perfect if you’re not in the mood to be as physically active (for instance, if you’re pregnant)—you can stay in place while she gets a workout.
- Play chase around the house. Make a game of running after her as she makes her way around the house.
- Kick a beach ball. A light, airy ball like a beach ball is a great way for her to practice kicking, even indoors.
- Toss and catch a deflated balloon. Toss a deflated balloon (with no helium) into the air for a slow catch.
- Play hide and seek. Take turns pretending to hide and find one another.
- Pop bubbles. Blow bubbles in the kitchen and have her chase and pop them.
- Build a fort or tent. One of my best childhood memories was my siblings and I turning our parents’ bedroom into a fort, using blankets and tying them with string. You can do the same with something as simple as placing a blanket over two chairs. Up the ante by putting small toys inside the tent for your 1 year old to play with.
- Play dress up. Establish a dress up box, and toss imaginary clothing and costumes inside. Masks, hats, and an old Halloween costume can be a fun way to entertain him.
- Give your toddler a large cardboard box. Turn it into a fort, a boat, a car… you name it. Have him put little toys inside and pretend it’s a room. Later, you can flatten the box and turn it into a blank canvas. Once flattened, it can even work well as a dance floor (especially if he’s barefoot—he’ll love the pitter patter sound his feet make).
- Play in a pretend kitchen. Do you have a mini kitchen for him to play in? Bring out his kitchen toys (or even better, give him real kitchen tools like measuring cups and small chopping boards) to play with.
- Create a pillow mountain. Pile every pillow in the house in one area for him to climb. Add stuffed animals for extra fun!
Fun with music
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- Throw a parade. Grab musical instruments and march with your toddler around the house.
- Have a dance party. Find kids channels on Pandora or video streaming programs to dance to. Or play favorite nursery songs with “moves,” like Hokey Pokey or Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.
- Sing songs. Play nursery rhymes and sing songs together. I promise your toddler won’t mind if you can’t carry a tune—he’ll simply love hearing you sing familiar songs.
Arts and crafts
- Finger paint. Arts and crafts at this age are less about creating a finished product, and more about introducing your 1 year old to new textures. This is an opportunity to encourage his curiosity. Finger paint is a fantastic way for him to create art, even if it means random scribbles on a piece of paper.
- Play dough. Encourage him to touch, squeeze, pinch, and pull on play dough. Don’t expect a finished creation, but rather use this as an activity to keep him engaged.
- Stickers. Practice his fine motor skills with stickers. Start with large stickers, pulling a corner up for him to peel the rest off. Similarly, unroll and hang a sheet of sticky contact paper and have him apply pieces of paper onto it.
- Glue sticks. Tear 2-inch pieces of paper and show him how to apply glue sticks to the pieces and adhere to another sheet.
- Large crayons. Tape a large piece of paper onto a surface and allow him to scribble with large crayons. Make it extra special by sending his work of art to his grandparents.
- Tub crayons. Water crayons make bath time fun and even extend his time in the water.
- Read. A rainy day is the perfect excuse to cuddle up with a pile of books and read.
- Create sensory bins. Fill a large container with dry beans, rice, or pasta. Then, add tiny toys like Easter eggs, a shovel and bucket, or toy trucks. He’ll enjoy playing with the different textures.
- Ice in a cup. Fill a small cup or bowl with ice and encourage your 1 year old to explore. Have him touch and even taste the ice, and watch as it melts into liquid water.
- Sort snacks into bowls. Place dried snacks together and encourage him to sort them into different bowls. For instance, place cereal and raisins in one bowl, and show him how to place the cereal in one bowl and the raisins in another. In the end, celebrate by eating the snacks!
- Bake together. Sit your 1 year old in a highchair and give him simple tasks to do, like pouring pre-measured ingredients into a bowl. Or have him “help” by stirring the batter or scraping the sides of a bowl.
- Wipe surfaces. Spray flat surfaces with an eco-friendly cleaner while he wipes up after you.
- Wash and sort laundry. He can help place and retrieve clothes from the washer and dryer, especially if they’re forward-facing. Otherwise, he can also help sort clothes and place them into piles.
Outside the house
- Aquarium. An annual membership to the aquarium just might be your saving grace for rainy days. You’ll get out of the house and introduce your little one to amazing sea creatures.
- Indoor playground. Look for indoor playgrounds near you, perfect for rainy days. Plan ahead and try to get there right when they open to beat the crowd.
- Children’s museum. I prefer museums geared specifically for kids because they encourage hands-on play. That way, you don’t have to remind your child not to touch anything. Or make sure the museum has a kids’ area so yours can spend the majority of his time there.
- Errands. He’ll still enjoy errands, from grocery shopping to visiting the post office, especially if he’s fine with a simple change in scenery.
- Library. Libraries are some of my favorite places to go on a rainy day. Besides reading books and playing with toys in the children’s area, many libraries offer events like story time and puppet shows.
- Coffee shop. A cold, rainy day calls for a trip to the coffee shop to break up a glum day. Give him a snack while you order your preferred beverage.
- Mall play area. Check out your local malls and shopping centers for fun play areas to visit.
- Visit family and friends. Set up a play date, visit grandparents, or schedule a lunch with a friend. Similarly, invite people to your house to break up the day.
Go out in the rain anyway
- Splash in puddles. Folks who live in rainy areas know better than to stay indoors for every rainy day. Instead, bundle up with good rain boots, coats, and umbrellas, and splash in the puddles. Simply follow it up with a nice, warm bath, some lunch, and a nap.
- Go under a covered area. If you really don’t want to get wet but want to enjoy some fresh air, step outside under a covered area. Your patio or balcony can still allow you to be outdoors without getting rained on.
p.s. Check out Sunny-Side Up by Jacky Davis, all about a child coping with a rainy day:
Now you know what you can do with your toddler on a rainy day at home.
Because staying indoors—especially for days at a time—is not an easy task for many kids. But with these rainy day activities for 1 year olds, you now have ideas to keep yours entertained, learning, and burning energy. Even with the rain pouring outside.
Get more tips:
- Sensory Activities for 1 Year Olds: 18 Ideas to Engage the Senses
- Easy Arts and Crafts for 1 Year Olds (No Complicated Instructions!)
- 31 Easy Things to Do with a 1 Year Old
- How to Discipline a 1 Year Old (Especially When Yours Ignores You)
- What to Do When You’re Seeing One Year Old Tantrums Already
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