Can’t go outdoors? We’ve collected our top 10 best bets to keep your children occupied on a rainy day. Keep away the nothing-to-do blues with these activities, crafts, and games.
Tip: make yourself an idea file with several ideas that occur to you for easy access when the weather calls for an indoor recess.
1.Walk on the Moon – Make a moon walking area. Place pillows all over the floor then cover with a large sheet. Let children walk all over. Play classical music for a dramatic effect.
For a fun filled trip into space, use Greg and Steve's “An Adventure In Outer Space” from their “On The Move” CD.
2. Doggie, Doggie, Where's Your Bone?
Sit in a semicircle with one child sitting in a chair facing away from the group. Place a toy bone or beanbag under the chair. One child is chosen to go "steal the bone". All of the children then sit with their hands behind their backs and say, "Doggie, doggie, where's your bone? Someone stole it from your home!" The "Doggie" then turns around and tries to guess who has the bone. The child that had the bone takes a turn to guess in the next round.
Extensions- Once children understand the concept of the game you can change it up on another day and use different props depending on your theme of the week or learning objectives. Example: if your theme is winter you could play Snowman where’s your nose. The child who is “it” wears a top hat and a carrot is hidden. If you are teaching the letter A you might use a small sheet of paper with the letter written on it. Children will use the actual name of the child who is “it” calling out “Johnny, Johnny where’s your letter A”.
3. Make a Face
Cut eyes, noses, and mouths from magazine pictures of faces and have children select these and glue them onto paper. Add details such as head, ears, hair and freckles with crayons.
Extensions - Separate into sizes. For large faces cut out eyes nose mouth separately, these are good for gluing onto paper plates and making several people puppets. For smaller sizes cut eyes with nose or nose with eyes. Be discerning, look for a variety of men, women, and children. Multicultural faces, elderly. Look for different expressions of eyes and mouths, beards, moustaches, braces, glasses, etc. Just for fun throw in a few animal features, props like cameras, food, furniture, or other objects that children can add to their pictures.
4. "Me" Drawing
Trace child's outline on butcher paper and then have the child color it. Extensions- Cut clothes out of construction paper to match what the child is wearing. Decorate the outline to create a person such as a firefighter, doctor, teacher, etc. Once we made an outline of our dog laying on the paper and the children really enjoyed coloring it to match her spots and colors.
5. Object Collages
Give each child a tray with a clump of playdough in it. Then let children use the playdough as a base for sticking in beans, straws, craft sticks, and other small items so that they stand upright. Extension - Use Potato Head Features in the clump of playdough!
6. Paper Fastener Activity
Give children a quantity of paper fasteners and cardstock scraps in which you have made holes with a paper punch. Children love hooking pieces together and moving the parts. These can be colored. * Best for ages 3 and up.
Let children decorate a sheet of paper with stickers. Extensions- Fill small paper lunchbags with several stickers to keep on hand for a rainy day. Give the children markers to decorate the bags with the stickers. Bind or staple several half sheets of paper together to make a sticker book. Draw a simple shape on a piece of paper and have children place the stickers along the line.
8. Tray Play
Fill two cups, one with several colored straws and one with several colored pipe cleaners, which have been cut in a variety of lengths. By combining the straws and pipe cleaners, kids can make all kinds of structures, creatures, and other creations. For instance, they can twist the pipe cleaners or push them through the straws to make flowers, arms, legs, antennae, and more.
Children stuck in the house on a rainy day with pent up energy need an outlet. A great way to beat boredom is to give them something productive to do with the satisfaction of a job well done as the result. Give children sponges or wet towels and set them to scrubbing the table, chairs, refrigerator, floor, etc. Go around the room and place several washable toys into a plastic laundry basket for a sprucing up. When they are all clean give them towels to dry and have them place the toys back where they belong. Perhaps clear an entire block shelf into the basket. Children can wash the blocks and scrub the shelf too.
10. Memory Game
Have one child be “it”. Ask other children to observe you for a minute. Child goes somewhere the other children cannot see. Help the child who is “it” change a small detail about their appearance. Change their hair, unbutton one button, take off a shoe, fold up a cuff, push up a sleeve, place something small sticking out of a pocket, etc.
Bonus – What’s better on a cold rainy day than Hot Chocolate? When I make hot chocolate for young children from a mix I place 1 cup of water into a glass 2 cup measuring cup. Microwave on High for 2 – 2 1/2 minutes. Add 3 packs single serve mix. Stir well then add cold milk to make 2 cups. The milk cools the chocolate to a safe temperature for young children.
Cold Weather Fun!
Here are a few ideas for making outdoor winter play a bit more cozy.
Consider bringing a hot drink along to the park for a warm treat.
Race your toddler across your yard and back again * the idea is to keep moving.
Use a sprinkler to create a winter wonderland on a subfreezing night.
Birdwatching - Get to know your local birds. Set out some bread crumbs near a window to attract hungry feathered friends.