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Games and activities to stimulate the development of children from 1 to 2 years old

Around one year of age, children begin to stand up and take their first steps, and with this great developmental milestone, they become more independent when it comes to moving and exploring.

In addition, at the language level, it is around the year when they also begin to say their first words , and at two years they enter the “holophrase” period (using two words to make a sentence, for example “I want water”).

In summary; general development (play, sensory, motor, etc.) at this stage from the first to the second year of life is quite important. As fathers and mothers, we can favor this development in our little ones; For this, we propose a series of games, toys and activities to stimulate it.

Motor and cognitive development from the first to the second year of life

Before delving into the activities proposed to stimulate our child, and although we have already made a brief introduction, it is important to delve a little deeper into what the normative development of children is like at these ages.

According to pediatric reference guides, around the year the child explores objects in different ways, such as shaking, hitting or throwing them.

Also find hidden objects easily. On a physical and motor level, he sits without help, gets up to stand and walks holding on to furniture.

And from the age of two, the child is able to find objects even when they are hidden under two or three layers and begins to classify shapes and colors . On a physical and motor level, he stands on the balls of his feet and can kick a ball.

Games and activities to stimulate the development of children from 1 to 2 years old

As you will see, in this brief guide we have included games and activities to work on the different areas ; sensory, emotional, motor and cognitive.

song games

According to the Guide proposed by Harvard University (Center on the Developing Child), an activity that favors the development of children from the age of one and a half is song games that include movements.

An example of this is the song “Soy una tetera” (where we sing while we make gestures with our arms, pretending to be a teapot).

These types of songs and games require children to
attend to the words of the song
and keep them in your mind (working memory), using the song to guide your actions.

learning cubes

The learning cubes are cubes full of elements for the child to touch, manipulate and experiment with.

For example, they incorporate musical pianos , a treasure box, a telephone set, spinning gears, and beads. With these cubes they will have fun while learning and experimenting.

Memory card games

Memory cards are an interesting resource to promote the cognitive development of children (attention, memory…). You can buy them or make them yourself, with cardboard.

In fact, the game can be started by creating those cards together (duplicated to make the pairs).

Then, you will put them all face down and you will have to make pairs, turning two over each turn. With small children from 1 to 2 years old, the ideal is to use few cards and make them very visual.

stimulate the senses

We can suggest smelling fruits or flowers, touching different materials such as sand, water, plasticine, rice (or bags of rice), velcro, cloth… For this, a “box of senses” can be a good resource, grouping this material.

Building games

Construction games are also a good resource for stacking blocks, and allow you to work on visuospatial perception, hand-eye coordination

We can sit on the mat with them and pass them the pieces, make a block in front of them and they can imitate it, build a tower between the two…

Of course, we will use the first blocks, which are large and easy to fit.

assemble parts

(Large) piece-assembly games can also be a good resource for 1- to 2-year-olds; They can be, for example, a box where the child introduces the pieces into the holes, according to their shape.

In this activity the visuospatial skill is working, which allows him to identify the hole (the shape) and choose the piece that best fits in it.


Children between one and three years old are already capable of solving simple problems, and begin to understand the concept of “cause-effect”. They can also memorize simple series.

For this reason, they can begin to make small puzzles of their favorite drawings (but maximum of two or three pieces ); The puzzle is ideal for working on fine motor skills, concentration, working memory…

sensorimotor toys

At these ages it is also a good time to resort to games based on the sensorimotor area, which allows the child to explore their physical and motor skills.

For this reason, toys that enhance these skills are a good resource, such as:

  • Wooden musical instruments (a xylophone, a drum…)
  • An insertable set of laces
  • A wooden bike without pedals

play with bags

At these ages, children love to put things in and out of bags , bags, boxes… We can take advantage of it and make balls of paper and put them in a box, throw them from a distance, play “basket”… We can also use other objects like balls.

Play with water

See if your child likes to play in the bathtub, and take advantage of this moment to incorporate toys suitable for bath time, such as rubber ducks, a fishing game…

picture books

Picture books are a good option to entertain our child and start reading.

There is a variety of them, made with resistant and non-toxic materials, specially created for them. At this age they really like that we tell them little stories or stories , look at stories, drawings or photos.

Let’s point out some color…

Another activity is to point to something of a certain color; for example, we say “green” and point to something green.

You can also point to a baby and say “baby” , “mama”, etc. Selective attention is worked here (focusing on a certain stimulus)

Paint with washable markers

We also find washable and non-toxic markers for babies over 12 months that they can already use. Spark their imagination by creating a joint mural!


Children of these ages usually like everything that is dragging or pushing carts, so a good option is children’s carts, strollers, wooden motorcycles, etc.

In addition, we also find sensory carts with buttons to press, levers to operate, zippers to open and close, etc.

activity tables

Activity tables are interactive tables , made up of the table itself and an activity panel, which is usually removable.

They are tables with buttons to press, which also emit sounds or songs, with telephones that can be removed, with clock hands that can be turned and with which to learn daily routines, with piano keys that teach colors and musical notes…

All this, ideal to satisfy their desire to experiment and explore and to promote their sensorimotor development.

The treasure basket

This game greatly favors the sensory development of the little ones, and in addition, we can make the basket ourselves. To do this, we will use a wide and shallow basket or box, which we will fill with everyday objects that we have at home.

They must be safe and large objects, ideally, with different textures and materials so that the child can experiment.

Some ideas for us to add to the basket: rubber balls, a hairbrush , a large wooden spoon, a music box, a cloth, clothespins, colored markers…

It is about discovering with them what each object is, what sounds it emits (if it does), what it smells like, what it is for, what sensations touch it produces, etc.

Photos | Cover (pexels), Image 1 (pexels), Image 2 (pexels), Image 3 (pexels)

Babies and more | 17 educational resources to play from home and entertain children from 0 to 3 years old, How to play with your children to stimulate their development according to their age

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