Rainy Day Fun: Tips to Keep Kids Busy
When skies turn gray and the rain falls, kids often find themselves bored and cranky. Try these creative ideas to help spur your imagination, boost everyone's spirits, and chase those rainy day blues away.
Need more physical activity? Throw a dance party! Clear out the middle of a room, strike up the stereo and have some fun. Alternating music choices works well, and when it’s your turn, make it a slow one so you’ll have the energy to keep up! Try not to use videos, even musical ones, if you can help it; it becomes too easy to sit and watch and forget to get up and dance.
Shake, Rattle, and Roll
Speaking of music, why not create a band? Work with instruments you already have or make a few of your own. Even the tiniest babies love to shake wrist or ankle rattles! Play along with music or just have at it.
Talk with your child about what things around your house make music. Try making your own rattle by using an empty plastic water/soda bottle, then add a handful of uncooked corn kernels, tighten the cap, and shake, shake, shake. Take another bottle and put a handful of rice in that one. Tighten the lid. Which one sounds more like rain if you slowly turn it over? Which one is louder?
Most craft books will have a section on creating different musical instruments. Look for one that has a fun “rain stick” project—a great choice for this rainy day.
Singing (You Guessed It) In the Rain
Play the “Singing in the Rain” game! The object is simple, and you can have a winner if you want to keep track of who comes up with the most songs, but it’s just as much fun to work as a team to reach your goal. (We set the goal of 25 Songs about Rain for our little one.) The rules are simple: the song must be about rain/water or have rain/water in the lyrics. To claim a song, you must sing a relevant verse; only in the cases of instrumentals or where “rain” appears only in the title are you exempt from singing.
“The Itsy Bitsy Spider;” “Rain, Rain, Go Away;” (though with all the fun you are having, you may be changing the words!), “Come Rain or Come Shine;” “I Can See Clearly Now;” “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head;” “Over the Rainbow;” and of course, the Muppet Show classic, “Rainbow Connection” are all great tunes that you can include.
Consider broadening your “weather” song theme—how about songs about sunny days? Why are there so many songs about rainbows and rain? Feeling adventurous? Make up your own song about rain, or change the words to some already familiar tunes.
Story Time and Make-Believe
Reading is an excellent indoor activity. Check your local library and bookstores for scheduled story times (your regional BabyZone calendar will have a good list for you), or snuggle up and enjoy some great books at home. Seem too tame? Liven up your story time by having kids act out the parts of the characters in familiar stories. You can even make costumes for the characters. Keeping a dress-up box handy is a fun way to make this a truly spectacular performance. Don’t be afraid to follow along familiar storylines, especially for the toddler-preschool set, who may become upset if you deviate too far from known stories, but don’t be afraid to try improvisation either. Ask your little actor, “What would you have done if you were the wolf trying to get those little pigs?”
Make puppets and have a puppet show to tell the story. Puppets can be store-bought, or brown paper bags with crayon-drawn faces. Drawings of characters cut out and placed on Popsicle sticks work well, too. An old cardboard box for the stage and a fabric scrap for curtains can make a first-class, table-top puppet theater.
Story cubes are another excellent, easy-to-make tool for indoor play. Cut out pictures according to the following themes: People, Places, and Activities (six pictures per box). Glue the pictures onto the boxes, one picture on each side. One box is our “Who” cube, where all the pictures are of different people or characters. Our “What” box has pictures of different activities on each side, and the “Where” box shows pictures of different places.
Take turns lightly rolling each box across the floor like a giant die. When the person who is “it” has rolled them all, he or she makes a story about the person on top of the “who” box, doing the activity on the “what” box at the location of the “where” box. Little ones will simply say, “Grandmom bakes cookies at the beach,” while older children can make up much more elaborate stories about what kind of cookies, and who’s coming to eat them, etc. Add other boxes if you like, for example, “When” and “With Whom” boxes.
Children love poems. Set aside some time for a poetry reading or recitation. Think about writing your own family poems. What words rhyme with rain or puddle? How does rain make you feel? What does the rain do? What is your favorite thing about rainy days? Let your imaginations run wild.
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