Rainy Day Ideas

Use these ideas to get you started, and the kids may actually start wishing for more rainy days

We've all had those long and dreary days, filled with miserable rain outside and miserable and whining kids, inside. "What's there to do?" they ask every five minutes. "Why can't we go outside?" "Will this rain ever stop?"

Well, rainy days may ruin some cheerful plans of outside activities, but it doesn't have to be dull, boring, or frustrating inside. With a few careful preparations ahead of time, you can plan on the next rainy day being a day the kids will remember. In fact, they may be wishing for more days of rain.

Whenever you have the chance, stock up on board games, toys, old clothing, craft supplies, scissors, glue, paper, pencils, markers, crayons, puzzles, decks of cards, and an assortment of other items you think the kids might have use of.

On the next rainy day, try some of these ideas for a day full of fun:

· Color in new coloring books, only used when confined indoors due to bad weather outside.

· Put together puzzles, or let the kids try to solve puzzles from puzzle books.

· Play some of the board games you've collected.

· Pull out your craft supplies and let the kids get creative. Maybe they can paint, draw, make mosaics, or try their hands at weaving or some other craft. If you have the space and equipment, let them create things from ceramics. Whatever you can imagine, and that might be within their age-appropriate range, let them try it.

· Tell stories. You might tell old ghost stories you heard when you were growing up. Or, you might make up some really fascinating stories just for the kids. Let them all have a turn at making up stories of their own, or perhaps, you could go around and let everyone add a piece of the story.

· Build a fort. Did you ever build a fort when you were a kid, or maybe you've built forts for your own children? Plan out where you want your fort, then arrange some chairs and other solid objects around, strategically placed to serve as supports for your tent-like forts. Then, use blankets, sheets, or any other large pieces of material you have on hand, and fasten them in place over and around your solid structure. We used clothespins when I was a kid. Use whatever works. You might even want to pull out a stash of safety pins and use them. This helps your fort stay in place when the kids start moving around, and in and out.

· Play dress up. Use old clothing and let the kids dress up in imaginative ways. They might want to look like Dad or Mom, but they might also want to look like some fictional character they have in mind. Help them combine all of the right elements to allow the kids to get into character and make believe their own story and life, even if only for that day. They might even get into character and play in their newly made forts.

· Have a circus. Use the kids' stuffed animals and maybe a toy wagon. Put the animals on parade and let the kids be lion tamers, clowns or other circus performers. Build them a safe and low "high wire" on which they can perform. Let them come up with interesting characters to be. You might even want to make popcorn and serve soft drinks.

· Make sock puppets and have a puppet show. All you need are old socks, markers and maybe a button or two for eyes and nose. You might even use some yarn for the hair. Then, you're ready to plan out your show. Let the kids play the part of the puppets they created, and let them ad-lib the script wherever they want to. You don't have to be a perfectionist and insist that a script be developed and memorized. Let the kids improvise. They will get such a kick out of entertaining you.

· Play in the kitchen. Let the kids help you cook a pizza or maybe some cookies. Give them a chance to help you in the kitchen and make something delicious they can devour afterwards. Just make sure they remember that part of cooking is cleaning up. Who knows, you may find yourself with lots more help in clearing the table and washing dishes later on.

· Watch some of the kids' favorite videos.

· Play school. Have some books and fun activities that the kids might enjoy in their own version of "play" school. Let them be the teachers and you be the student. Make it realistic or make it a total fantasy, just let the kids loose with their imaginations and enjoy the time.

· Have a talent show. Let all members of the family participate. Maybe the kids would like to sing a song, dance, or do some other special talent for everyone. Let them show their talents and shine for you. You might even want to award some special prizes you collected in advance, and make sure that every child gets a prize of some kind.

· Build a cardboard city. Use all sorts of large and small discarded cardboard boxes. Let the kids help design their new city, then you can cut out the necessary holes. Then the kids can help place everything and color on whatever designs they want. The rest is easy. You sit back and relax, while the kids roam in and out of their new box city.

· Make a home movie. Let the kids use the family video recorder and make a movie just like the professionals in Hollywood do. Well, almost. Anyway, the point is to let them be creative and imaginative, planning out some plot with characters and twists. Let them dress up and use whatever resources you have on hand to set the scenes and help them make their movie. Of course, you may prefer to be the camera person, and let the kids do all of the acting. But you'll end up with a treasure of a movie, sure to be enjoyed for many years to follow.

· Write a story together. Let the kids get really imaginative and come up with a story of their own. They might want to write stories individually, and read them aloud to the group. Or, they might want to get together and write a story together. Who knows, they might never realize what a learning experience they are having, all in the name of having fun.

· Read a book together. You can read to them, or let everyone take a turn at reading.

· Watch television together. Let the kids have a little flexibility, and don't demand they watch only educational shows. Let them splurge on the kinds of shows they only get to watch on rare occasions, or let them watch shows they usually wouldn't be able to, due to school or other outside activities.

· Play "I Spy" or "20 Questions". It's quite easy. Each person takes a turn and picks out something in the room. Then, without letting the others know what it is, the person says, "I spy" or "I have something in mind." Then, the others take turns trying to guess what the object is.

· Play cards. You can play the traditional games, or you can invent whole new games for the kids.

· Play "let's pretend" games. Let the kids pretend to be teachers, doctors, nurses, policemen or firemen. Let them dress up in whatever you may have on hand. Then let them play the roles. You might even volunteer to be the patient or bad guy that has to be arrested and taken off to jail.

· Have a picnic or camp out on the living room floor. Let the kids gather blankets and pillows, and whatever they think makes the perfect event. If you have a fireplace, it would be perfect for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Be creative and be a little flexible. Sure there will be a mess, but it can be cleaned up. This is the time to let go and let everyone have some fun.

· Have a scavenger hunt or clue hunt. Compile a list of items the kids must find, or, write up and hide a bunch of clues they must solve in order to find the next clue. Let the kids scamper off in search of these otherwise ordinary household items. For that day, the items are much sought after treasures they are collecting. Make it fun, and leave a few rewards for them to find along the way.

· Plan a cultural feast. If you have a handy kitchen nature, and you're knowledgeable about different cultural foods, prepare a cuisine that the kids will love. Let them help. Then, while you are preparing and eating the foods, you can help the kids learn more about these different cultures.

· Have a party. Let the kids pick out some music, then pull out the chips or make some popcorn. Let them dance around the room. Then, let them fall all over themselves with laughter, when you show them how it was done when you were a kid.

· Create simple science projects. You might even have everyday items around the house that you can use. But this is one project you must prepare ahead of time. You need to research the different projects, and make sure you not only have the items you will need, but also make sure it is perfectly safe for the kids.

· Have a fashion show. This is a take-off of the dress-up, but the kids get to try on many different clothes. Let them pick out their own unique and imaginative styles and combos, then model them for you to admire. Let them strut their stuff, and watch them beam with pride as you "oooh" and "ahhh" over their new styles.

· Tell old family stories. The kids always seem to love hearing about the "good old days." Tell them what you did on rainy days when you were a kid. Share the stories your parents used to tell you, and let the kids get to know their ancestors a little better.

· Let the kids build homemade ships and try out their sailing skills in the bathroom. You might even want to let the kids go "swimming" in the tub, while they're at it. After all, you can be sure all of you will end up at least a little wet, by the time all of the ships have been tried and tested on the waters.

· Gather an assortment of items from around the house and let the kids get creative, trying to build some new and ingenious sculpture or object from the different things. If they will be using tape, glue, or other permanent adhesives, you might want to use only those items that you don't mind the kids keeping or discarding.

· Finally, if the weather is only wet, but no thunder or lightning threatens, let the kids take a walk out in the rain. Either take an umbrella, or just let all of you go out, barefooted, and enjoy traipsing through the falling rain and jumping in all of the puddles you encounter. Kids are so used to parents telling them to come in out of the rain, they are sure to love and appreciate a rare opportunity to go out and play in it.

Whatever you do, if you make some advance preparations, the next rainy day at your house is sure to be something more than just another dull and dreary day for the kids - and for you. Let them be themselves, and learn how, where and when you can be flexible. Make the day a special one, and the kids may not ever dread another rainy day again.

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