Finally – warmer weather is brining rain showers. Here in the Midwest I think the last of the snow piles are creeping away like a guest who has finally realized she stayed too long. Spring has sprung and that means the inevitable rainy days where the kids might be moping around and yawning I’m bored. Cure that boredom, without resorting to letting them sit and play video games all day, with these 10 rainy day activities that will get their brains working and their creativity hopping.
Our boys have recently joined at comic creation class, learning about graphic novels, classic comics, and how to create their own. Check out some classics from the library like Garfield, and share in a few laughs. Then encourage your children to write their own comic strip. Our library has great books to help reluctant artists – search for ones with simple line drawings and “basic” or “beginner” titles. If your kids are stuck for an idea, start sharing silly family stories – there is bound to be something comic-worthy in your family history!
2. Puppet Show
Turn socks, paper lunch bags, and craft-stick creations into unique puppets and then throw a blanket over the table to serve as the puppet stage. Kids can create their own stories or you can read to them some fun books and they can develop the characters as puppets and recreate the story on stage. If you have older kids, have them try to create their own marionettes like these.
Sure, you can dive in for the classic games of Crazy Eights, Go Fish, and Solitaire, but also try some new twists. Play mathematics war by turning over 2 cards at a time and the person with the highest sum, or product if your child is practicing multiplication, gets the cards (a subtle way to review math facts). Don’t throw out those old decks, either, because they are perfect for building card houses. You can even hold a card house competition in the living room, challenging children to the tallest house or the one that uses the most cards.
4. Puzzles + Reading
They might not seem like they go together, but throw on a book on CD into the CD player and set up a table space for puzzles. Research shows that it is sometimes easier for kids to concentrate on a mental activity (like following a story line) if their fingers are busy (putting the puzzle together). This is a great way to introduce kids to classic stories they might not otherwise be inclined to choose to read, such as Treasure Island or Gulliver’s Travels. There are tons of modern stories available, too, through bookstores, online vendors, and local libraries.
5. Kitchen Creations
No matter how old they are get the kids into the kitchen! When my kids were really young I would just set out some ingredients – flour, water, seasonings, etc. – and let them have at it. The flour adds a thickening agent that often makes for something moldable for kids. As the kids get older they either follow recipes or get creative and try to develop their own. This can make for some interesting flavors of “cake” in our home! If you’re kids are old enough, task them with creating the meals with these kid-friendly recipes.
6. Paper Mache
Mix together water, flour, and liquid children’s glue into a slightly thick liquid. Have the kids shred newspaper into 1 inch strips. Dip each strip into the liquid and then place over a shape made from cardboard, wire mesh, or just a balloon. For a fun twist use a balloon filled with wrapped candy or small trinkets and make your own piñata.
7. Indoor Camping
Get out the bed sheets and let your kids create their own tents in the living room. Chairs, laundry drying racks, and folding tables are great structures to add. Give the kids some flashlights and S’mores made in the microwave, then let the adventures begin.
8. Build a Robot
There are inexpensive and easy robot kits available at stores, but sometimes the best ones are made from scrap. I found this adorable magnetic robot creation online that is a modern version of Mr. Potato Head and perfect for young engineers. If you have a child like one of mine who loves building robots that actually move and seem to interact, Instructables.com is a great place that offers simple instructions. We also found that investing in some inexpensive solar panels for Lego pieces let my son create solar powered Lego cars – a real hit as soon as the cloud clear and the sun shines!
9. Doll Accessories
It’s been a while since my daughter was busy playing with her dolls, but one of her favorite activities used to be to build furniture and accessories for them. Shoe boxes make great beds, and cloth napkins are often a great size for blankets. Your child can take ink stampers and decorate the blankets, or sew on buttons for decoration. You can also find great paper doll patterns here for your little ones – you just might need to help with some cutting.
10. Play in the Rain!
Just because it is a rainy day doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. Water is sometimes a magnet for kids, pulling them into the cool splash of a big puddle. Have a contest and search for the largest puddles, smallest puddles, and worm tracks. Make paper boats and float them outside, and have kids use rain gauges as they predict and track how much rain is falling. My geeky homeschool mom side would also tell you to share with your kids about the water cycle and come up with a wacky story about Mr. Raindrop who travelled the world and fell in our yard, but that might be going overboard.
[portions of this article originally appeared at BetterParenting.com :)]