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Practical Life Ideas for 1-Year-Olds

Young toddlers are so fully capable of daily participation in own homes. Someone recently asked me if I had any ideas for appropriate practical life for 1-year-olds, and it occurred to me that I've never really made big list of all the work Gus did around that time. So, I'm going to share some ideas that could work for 1-year-olds.

Montessori practical life ideas for 1-year-olds - here are easy, practical ways to get your child involved in practical tasks at home.

There are a few things to remember here. The younger the child the less a child will be able to complete a cycle of activity and do the task from start to finish. Your child's own interest, and how relevant these tasks are to your home will also play a role in how your child engages with any task. Keep these things in mind when thinking about practical life tasks for your young toddler: 
  1. Invite but don't require participation 
  2. Model, model, model the task
  3. Prepare your environment for success 
  4. Adjust your own expectations 
This work will not be done the way you or I do it, and that's ok! And it may be that they just start by doing part of this work and learn more as they master. Now, let's get into some ideas! Remember to follow your child when introducing ideas. I will mark (with a *) those I think are best suited for older 1-year-olds. 


Self-care tasks are those that involve your child. Basically anything you do to keep your child happy and healthy. This varies greatly from child to child, house to house, and culture to culture. And for health and safety reasons, you might want to give your child a turn then you take a turn completing the task. Use this list as inspiration, not a strict guide or set of expectations. 


Choosing an outfit 
Gathering clothes to wear 
Putting on shoes 
Putting on socks* 
Putting on a jacket 
Zipping/buttoning a jacket* 


Using a washcloth to clean
Using soap to clean their bodies 
Brush teeth 
Applying toothpaste*
Comb hair 
Apply lotion 
Dry off body*

Montessori practical life ideas for 1-year-olds - here are easy, practical ways to get your child involved in practical tasks at home.


Gathering diaper/underwear 
Wiping after toileting
Throwing away diaper
Flushing toilet 
Washing hands 
Refilling diaper/underwear supplies 
Choosing when to use the toilet*
Placing dirty clothes into laundry 

Cleaning/Household Tasks 

Household cleaning tasks are anything you are doing to keep your house tidy, clean and organized. This is going to look and feel different for every family/household situation. 

General Cleaning

Wiping up spills 
Using a spray bottle* 
Using a small vacuum* 
Throwing something away 
Getting something from another room 
Placing an object back where it goes
Watering a plant
Cleaning up toys 
Restoring trays to shelves 
Refilling supplies on art shelves or other work*

Montessori practical life ideas for 1-year-olds - here are easy, practical ways to get your child involved in practical tasks at home.


Gathering laundry
Throwing laundry into basket 
Putting laundry into machine
Moving wet laundry to dryer or to a line 
Matching socks
Folding smaller clothes*
Sorting laundry into categories (towels, mom's clothes, etc)
Putting clothes/laundry where it belongs   

Kitchen/Eating Work 

These kitchen and eating tasks probably could have fit under self-care and general cleaning but since it's such a big area, I wanted to separate it out. Again, use this as inspiration and make it relevant to your own child. This is just a small sample of the possible work, You can see more ideas for kitchen work here.

Montessori practical life ideas for 1-year-olds - here are easy, practical ways to get your child involved in practical tasks at home.


Pouring a drink 
Setting a place to eat 
Starting to use utensils 
Drinking from a cup 
Choosing when/how much to eat
Gathering a snack 
Choosing a snack

Cooking/Preparing Food

Gathering ingredients 
Placing ingredients in container 
Spreading with butter knife
Chopping soft foods 
Using a wavy chopper* 
Taste testing and watching you cook 
Pouring liquid or dry ingredients from one container to another

Montessori practical life ideas for 1-year-olds - here are easy, practical ways to get your child involved in practical tasks at home.

Other Kitchen Work

Putting away grocery items 
wiping down counter or table 
throwing away/composting food 
Bringing dirty dishes to sink/dishwasher
Rinsing dishes 
Cleaning dishes* 
Loading dishes into dishwasher or drying rack 

Outdoor Practical Life 

Practical life shouldn't be confined to the indoors, even for young toddlers. There are lots of ways that toddlers can get involved in practical tasks outside.

Montessori practical life ideas for 1-year-olds - here are easy, practical ways to get your child involved in practical tasks at home.

Pulling weeds 
Caring for outdoor animals - gathering eggs for example* 
Helping to plant seeds or young plants 
Scooping dirt into containers 
Shoveling snow*
Helping to wash a car/bike/toy
Gathering sticks/rocks from yard

Like I said, there is no way anyone can put together a definitive list of ALL the practical life things a 1-year-old could or should be doing. I hope this list provides some inspiration and gives you the courage to try some of these ideas, even with your younger toddler.

Have you tried any of these with your 1-year-old? Any practical life ideas you would add to this list? 


Peter Thompson said…
Thank you for sharing.
Sara Smith said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
alvisjohn said…
This work won't be done the manner in which you or I do it, and that is alright! Furthermore, it might be that they simply begin by doing some portion of this work and adapt more as they ace. RockStar Jackets

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