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5 Fast and Simple Activities to Entertain the Kids on Rainy Days

posted: 08/07/15
by: Blythe Copeland
Funny cute curly toddler girl wearing yellow waterproof coat and boots holding colorful umbrella playing in the garden by rain and sun weather on a warm autumn or sumemr day
iStock

Searching "rainy day activities" on the morning of an actual rainy day returns hundreds of ideas--most of which, it seems, involve hours of kid-free prep time, a trip to the supermarket or art store or library or party store, and a spare budget line for the cost. You don't have time for that: You need ideas for keeping the kids busy right now, and you need to be able to implement them in the time it takes to drink your morning coffee. Here are five foolproof activities to save your next rainy day from turning into a disaster.

1. Have a treasure hunt.

If you have time to prepare, you can set up a true treasure hunt with dollar store prizes, clues, and carefully chosen hiding places. But when bad weather takes you by surprise, put together a hunt with no planning required. Draw different colored squares on a piece of paper and ask your toddlers to find one item of each color; or task preschoolers with finding something starting with each letter of the alphabet. Make it even more complicated for older kids--ask them to look for the oldest thing they can find in the house, or the smallest, or the softest.

2. Make a mess.

Set the kids up at a space you can easily clean--the kitchen table covered with a plastic cloth, the floor on an old shower curtain, the tub--and let them make the biggest mess they can with a can of shaving cream. Parents should spray the cream for younger kids, but even little ones can take the lead on drawing, painting, and mixing it around. (If you have children who are still at the everything-goes-in-the-mouth stage, it works with whipped cream, too.) With a little extra time, you can also make bathtub paint --you'll just need dish soap, cornstarch, food coloring, and water.

3. Have a pajama day.

Take your cue from preschool pajama day and let the kids (and yourself) stay in lounge clothes until bedtime. Make blanket forts, string O-shaped cereal on yarn to make necklaces, and read favorite books about bedtime throughout the day. Then finish with breakfast for dinner--try pancakes, eggs, and fruit--and change into new pajamas before heading off to bed.

4. Bake or cook.

To you, cooking is a three times a day chore. To your kids, it's fun and exciting and new! If you're the type who always keeps your pantry stocked with flour, sugar, yeast, and other common ingredients, then try homemade bread, soft pretzels, sugar cookies, or oatmeal bars. If your idea of homemade brownies involves emptying a box and stirring, no judgment here: Hand your kid the spoon and let him have at it. Little ones can even help with grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, peanut butter and jelly, sliced fruit, or smoothies--don't be afraid to keep it simple.

5. Send them outside.

If it's cold and rainy, the kids may not be willing to brave the weather. But on warm summer days, zip up those raincoats, pull on the boots, and send them outside to get soaked. Encourage stomping in as many muddy puddles as they can find, or arm them with water pistols (hey, they're already wet, right?). The novelty will entertain them long after they'd be bored on a sunny day, and they'll work off all that stuck-inside energy so you can minimize afternoon meltdowns.