Sensory Activities for 1 – 2 year olds

One-year-olds are so much fun! They are constantly exploring and trying new things. Toddler brains are constantly taking in information and recording it as a means of understanding and exploring the world around them. This is why playtime with our kids can become an adventure – because every time we introduce them to something new or novel, their brains benefit from the growth of those little neuropathways.

One way to ensure that your child is getting a variety of sensory input is to create different “sensory bins.”

Sensory bins are a new mom’s best friend. I promise.

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at home sensory activities for 1 year old

Often you’ll see a lot of posts for sensory bins that include rice, pasta, etc. But for one-year-olds, it’s important that we consider that some may still be putting every friggin thing in their mouth. (Taste and mouth exploration is a way they learn!)

To help your kids play safely and explore safely I tried to tailor these sensory bin ideas for ACTUAL one-year-olds…(although some 2-year-olds could also certainly benefit from them).

Raise your hand if your child has put sand in their mouth at a playground or beach and immediately spit it out. This is expected interaction.

sensory activities for 1 year old

To continue to safely explore the world around them, you’ll want to engage with safe materials that your child can taste, touch, and even (gasp) swallow. *no hard uncooked pasta for ya’ll sorry!

What you CAN use might be anything from a simple cardboard box, and a bowl of water to a more complex set-up with various objects to touch, smell, and taste.

The possibilities are endless, and you can change them up as often as you like to keep your little one engaged.

at home sensory activities for 1 year old

What’s developing at 1 Year old?

One-year-olds are becoming more aware of their surroundings and are beginning to understand simple concepts like object permanence (the understanding that something still exists even when it’s out of sight).

At this age, your child is working on refining their gross motor skills (large movements) as well as developing their fine motor skills (smaller movements).

At the same time, your child’s understanding of language is growing rapidly, and they may start using single words to communicate.

Sensory activities are a great way to support all these various areas of development and with some supervision, you can really see your child learn and have so much fun.

diy sensory activities for 1 year old

Do 1-Year-olds need a lot of Toys (spoiler alert, no)

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on these sensory bins.

One of the best things you can do for your child’s development is to provide them with a variety of sensory experiences. And while you might think that means buying a lot of expensive toys, that’s actually not the case.

In fact, sometimes the simplest materials can provide the most stimulating sensory experience. If this Tik Tok from the popular Domestic Blisters account can attest, you’ll see that anything that can be grabbed, make noise, and moved from one area to another can become a focus for your 1-year-old’s attention and energy for hours after happy hours.

sensory activities for a 1 year old

An Important Note on Sensory activities for 1-year-olds (Everything goes in their mouths)

One of the ways that 1-year-olds explore their world is by tasting and smelling everything they can get their hands on. This is a natural way for them to learn about their environment, and it’s important to allow them to do this without interference.

You should always be close by to supervise them and make sure that they don’t put anything in their mouth that could be harmful. If you’re unsure about something, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and not allow them to taste or smell it.

There are a lot of different ways to set up sensory bins for 1-year-olds. You can use a variety of different materials to create interesting and fun sensory bins and change them up often to keep your child engaged.

toddler activities

What is a Sensory Bin?

Not only is it one of those summer activities to do with kids, but a sensory bin is basically a container filled with a variety of sensory materials that can be used to stimulate your child’s senses. They can be used to help your child learn about their environment and develop their skills in a variety of different ways.

For example, sensory bins can be used to help your child develop their fine motor skills by giving them the opportunity to pick up and feel different materials. Additionally, sensory bins can also be used to help your child learn about colors, shapes, and even numbers.

Sensory bins are a great way to help your child learn in a fun and interactive way.

Toddler activities

How to set up a sensory bin for 1-year-olds

When setting up a sensory bin for 1-year-olds, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First, you’ll want to make sure that the materials you choose are safe for your child to put in their mouth. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that the bin is not too deep so that your child can easily reach into it.

You’ll also want to make sure that the materials you choose are interesting and stimulating for your child. To do this, you can try using a variety of different textures, colors, and shapes.

Some Container Ideas for Sensory Bins:

Child’s table – This multi activity table is perfect for toddler fingers. There’s a lego section (for the mega blocks! Please don’t use “normal” legos with 1 year olds) a paper roll, and the tables come in and out so you can insert sensory bins in a safe contained area.

Elk and Friends Kids/Toddler Multi Activity Table with 2 Chairs | Building Blocks Desk/Table with Storage | Craft Play Table Plus Paper Roll | Sensory Table Buy on Amazon

Water and Sand Play table – This is an amazing toddler table that is affordable and will promise HOURS of fun for your little one.

TEMI 3-in-1 Sand Water Table, 28PCS Kids Beach Summer Toys Sandbox Table Outdoor Activity Sensory Play Table with Dolphin Water Wheel, Molds, Bucket, Shovel for Toddlers Boys Girls


Extra long storage bins– What started as a way for me to store extra wrapping paper turned into the perfect bin for all kinds of water play and sand play activities. This bin i IDEAL for little hands and fingers to kneel on the ground with or play in the driveway or outside with. You can even play inside with a towel or matt down –

Homz Snaplock Clear Storage Bin with Lid, Large-41 Quart, White, 2 Pack Buy on Amazon

Tray with lid – This sensory bin is a perfect size to be on a table or even on the floor. Pro-tip – you’re going to want different sizes and different types of bins if sensory play with a one-year-old is on your to-do list in the not so distant future:

Small 4 Liter Portable Sand Tray with Lid Buy on Amazon

Containers – These containers are great for storing your sensory bin activities to use again, or to use AS sensory bin (I recommend these for foam or bubble play)

Sand – You can get sand at your local hardware department. There is also something called magic sand or kinetic sand which I do recommend waiting to use until your child isn’t putting everything in their mouth – it’s not safe for 1-year-olds. You’ll want to wait for them to be at least 18 months old (or not putting sand in their mouth)

Sensory bin ideas for toddlers

What Are Some Sensory Bin Activities for 1 Year Old?

Sensory activities are a great way to support your child’s development in a variety of different ways. Here are some ideas for sensory activities for 1-year-olds:

– Touch: Provide your child with a variety of different textures to touch and feel. This can be anything from soft blankets to rough sandpaper.

– Sight: Use a variety of colors and shapes to catch your child’s attention. You can also try hiding objects in the bin for them to find.

– Smell: Allow your child to smell different items in the bin. This can be anything from flowers to spices.

– Taste: Give your child safe items to taste, such as different fruits or vegetables.

– Sound: Use noise-making items in the bin, such as bells or maracas.

These are just a few ideas for sensory activities for 1-year-olds. There are endless possibilities when it comes to sensory bins, so get creative and have fun!

Please know that there are some awesome DIY sensory bins below but if you’re feeling like a Lazy parent (or you just don’t know where to begin) you’ll want to check out the assortment of amazing sensory bins on Etsy . They’re affordable and come with all the stuff you need!

Sensory bin ideas for 1 year old

Sensory Bin Fillers for 1-Year-Olds (and some 2-year-olds!)

Sensory bins require active fillers to keep your children interested.

Choose a filler that’s suitable for one-year-olds. Consider using edible stuff like cake mix, sand, water, cheerios and other cereals, oatmeal, and good old ice (especially on a hot day!)

A note about rice, beans, and dried pasta – If you’re going to choose these definitely keep a close eye on your baby. If I used dried pasta – I’d opt for very large ones (think rigatoni or lasagna noodles) Things they won’t be able to bite into necessarily.

Here are some of our favorite successful sensory bin filler ideas:

  • Cooked chickpeas or beans
  • Life cereal
  • Cheerios
  • Sand
  • Large rigatoni noodles
  • Water
  • Oatmeal (cooked and uncooked!)

Anything that stimulates the senses may be utilized! Consider a variety of tastes, smells, sounds, hues, and textures (squishy, bumpy, fuzzy, crinkly, etc.).

sensory activities for 1-2 year olds

Utilizing Tools & Other Hidden Items

Finally, you’ll want to add some interest and entice your preschoolers to play with the bin by including tools and secrets for them to find.

Things that are frequently included at this stage are done so on a theme. You may modify your sensory bin as often as you’d like to fit in with your current theme. Here are some of our favorite DIY sensory bin tools

  • Wooden Spoons
  • Measuring Cups
  • Old oatmeal containers, or snack boxes
  • Plastic Shovels
  • Salad Tongs
  • Plastic Easter Eggs
  • Feathers
  • Bells
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Plastic hearts
sensory bin ideas for 1 - 2 Year old

Best DIY Sensory Bins

Here are some of our favorite sensory bins for one-year-olds.

Make your own play dough – This one is a classic. Playdough is, and always will be, a fun thing to play with.

sensory activities for 1 year old

Frog Sensory Bin – This’ll be a great way to introduce toddlers to what frogs are without having to catch or touch one, which is a great idea!

Chick pea foam soap – This is at least 10 minutes of guaranteed fun and learning!

sensory activities for 1-2 year olds

Vegetable Garden – Hey, you never know. You might have a talented gardener on your hands.

sensory activities for 1 year old

Flower Sensory Soup – This may be one that is more for the one year old girls, but hey, I don’t think that matters at this age anyway! Just go ham and have fun!

at home sensory activities for 1 year old

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin for Kids – This one is so bright and colorful for babies. Be sure to get very large buttons and or watch them with those smaller ones.

diy sensory activities for 1 year old

Sensory Bin for Toddlers – This sensory bin for toddlers is great because
1) it teaches and enhances a lot of basic functional skills and natural logical processing and
2) if you have more than one kid, they can both play together.

sensory activities for a 1 year old

Pumpkin Activities for Toddlers – This is a great activity for our little ones, especially during halloween! This can even be an alternative to trick or treating activity!

Squeeze Your Own Lemonade for Preschoolers – Squeezing their own lemonade gives them a firsthand experience on what lemonades are like. Remember, the sensory bin for toddlers doesn’t have to be complicated to be great!

Arctic Ice Sensory Play – This is a fun sensory bin that the kids can experience. How often do you get to go to or experience an igloo anyway?

Toddler activities

Easy Sensory Bin Using Oats – This has to be one of the easiest in the list as you most likely already have the materials needed to accomplish this toddler sensory bin.

Sensory bin ideas for toddlers

Sensory Sink Toys in the Bath – This is another fun activity that is very easy to accomplish!

sensory activities for 1-2 year olds

Taby Activity via the Busy Toddler

Baby Sensory Bin – wrapping paper, newspaper or scraps of paper – let them tear and organize and play for hours!

Sensory bin ideas for toddlers

Another Awesome Taby activity via Busy Toddler – Sorting cards into a giant Oatmeal Bin

Fun quick Sensory Bin for one-year-olds` – Use leftover Easter Eggs and have your toddler find goldfish, cheerios, or other easy snacks inside!

sensory activities for 1 - 2 year olds

Sensory bin activities are a great way to help stimulate your one-year-old’s senses. By using different materials, you can create interesting and fun sensory bins that will keep your child engaged. You can also change them up often to keep your child interested.

Be sure to include tools and secrets for your child to find, as this will add interest and excitement to the activity. You can also use different themes for your sensory bins to match your current theme. Sensory bin activities are a great way to help your child learn about their environment and to have fun at the same time.

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