Let me start by saying I am NOT an expert at entertaining children. As a stay-at-home mom, I am simply persistent, testing out activities with my two kids. Some work really well, some are completely ignored, and some crash and burn. But here I am, your resident activity tester! The true test of any parent is how to keep kids entertained on a rainy day. I don’t know about you, but these days are always more challenging for me because if the weather is particularly bad, we can’t just walk outside for some fresh air. If we need a reset, we have to do it inside. But I have accepted this challenge and created a list of ideas to keep things interesting and fun at home. As I type this, I have a blow-up swimming pool sitting in my bedroom for the kids to play in. You should know that I will do just about whatever it takes to make playtime fun so I can sit back and relax. Instead of feeling as glum as a storm cloud, try out my tried and true rainy day activities to keep the gloom at bay and play the day away!
Supplies I Always Keep Handy
No matter the weather, I highly recommend having a little drawer system or storage somewhere in your house that you can stock the below supplies to keep handy. These are items we use regularly and can be helpful for when your kids are restless (and they will get restless). You will thank yourself later when you can pull together a random craft or project to keep everyone busy and happy.
– kraft paper roll
– painter’s tape
– large cardboard box (to flatten for art or make into something cool)
– color wonder markers and paper
– colorful pipe cleaners
– tub of crayons
– rainbow counting bears
– sketch pad
– construction paper in all colors
– regular and colored pencils
– craft pom poms
– water beads
– empty tubs in various sizes (I use these)
– muffin tin
– post-it notes
– dot stickers or sticker books of favorite characters
– dot paint
– red solo cups (they’re not just for college parties)
– washable paint set
– paintbrushes (these are highly recommended)
Trick Them Into Learning!
I get a lot of compliments from family members seeing the activities I do with my kids on my Instagram page, and I always say, “Why thank you (and I take a bow), but I did not come up with this on my own!” Thanks to social media, there are a lot of great accounts that provide activities to try. A couple of my favorites for rainy day activities are Busy Toddler and Days With Grey. Both offer fun activities that basically trick your kids into learning, and it takes the pressure off of you to be the teacher.
Painter’s Tape Obstacle Course
You can do a lot with painter’s tape and a hardwood floor, as long as your little one’s hobby isn’t ripping up said painter’s tape. My son loves when I create fun, indoor obstacle courses. You can make it look like a hopscotch game or create different shapes to get them jumping from one spot to the next. Anything to get that restless energy out. This is a great way to have fun while they learn coordination and balance. It’s a win-win!
Color Sorting Game
Lately, a game that has kept both my four-year-old and one-year-old interested is our color sorting game. We start by putting our Colorpillar Sorting Mat on the floor. I will call out a color at a time, and they have to find one toy in our house that matches that color. Of course, my one-year-old doesn’t really play it yet, but she squeals happily while chasing her brother around while he grabs toys to toss on the mat. It usually gets to a point where the mat is completely covered, and toys are everywhere, but then I announce it is clean-up time, and we start a competition to see who can clean up the fastest. A variation on this could be sorting the toys onto different colored construction paper!
Old School Video Games
If your husband is anything like mine, he will have old-school video game systems. We’ve got enough to fill a small museum, and our son is starting to get interested in playing them. Our favorite right now is the Nintendo Wii, and I love how active we are while we play. Of course, we do play games where we are sitting down and lounging, but we regularly play games where we are up and moving our bodies. We sometimes spend an entire afternoon on the Wii! This is another excellent way to get that energy out.
Forts and Cardboard Playhouses
Along with the blow-up swimming pool in my bedroom, we have a cardboard restaurant and a teepee that we rotate around the house, upstairs and downstairs, to keep the kids’ interest. They love having these set up in different areas of the house to play in, and the cardboard restaurant can be colored with crayons, markers, or even paint! Another fun activity we like to do is take all the cushions off the couches and make a giant cave or fort with blankets.
Highlights Magazine got us through quarantine, and we still subscribe to them a year later. Now, my son is old enough to sit down quietly by himself with a pencil, working on the activity pages while I escape to the coffee maker. They also have a version for babies and toddlers called Hello.
In my intro, I said I would do just about anything to keep my kids entertained. That, of course, includes screen time. As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes the iPad needs to be the babysitter! Especially when the kids need a break from my rainy day activities. My son loves the Homer app, it’s fun, and he learns at the same time. Other apps he likes to use are the Duplo train game and the ABCmouse Traceable app. When it comes to TV shows and movies, I compete with myself every day to see how long I last before turning on some sort of screen in my house. That rings true on rainy days. Instead of just turning on the TV and walking away, make it a little extra special by putting your phone or laptop away and enjoying a movie with the kids. Maybe even cuddle up in one of your forts and watch together. Snuggling is the best, and they’ll love snuggling with you while the rain pours outside.
Indoor Water Table
Okay, hear me out with this one. Lay down multiple towels on the floor and just let them play in the water. Grab your bathtub toys and toss them in and see the excitement on their faces. It isn’t as messy or bad as you think it is, and if things do get out of hand, toss that water into the rain and move on to the next activity. Because we’re the boss, right?!
Good ol’ puddle stomping
When the rain stops pouring, get outside and stomp! Of all the rainy day activities, this one is my favorite. It’s so fun to watch your little one with pure joy on their face while they are running and jumping into puddles. Investigate worms together, and have a competition to see who can find the longest worm. It’s fun and you feel like a kid again. Who cares if you get a little wet, it’ll be a good memory to frame on your wall.