Have you ever looked outside on a weekend morning and seen the rain coming down…and despaired? Why? Because your kids are home from school, and they need something to do, besides plopping them down in front of a television or computer. Rainy day games can be a great way to bond with and entertain your kids–and they work on snow days, too!
- Build a fort. Don’t you remember when you were little, constructing caves and forts out of furniture and strategically placed pillows and blankets? This is free, wholesome fun. Help the kids to make their own hidey-holes and have a picnic with them—even let them spend the night or take a nap! No permanent damage to the items used, and you will be building memories as well as having fun.
- Board and Card Games. These timeless classics are fantastic for passing the time. Always have a stash of games on hand: Scrabble, Monopoly, Life, Yahtzee, Uno, Go Fish, Old Maid, Pictionary…the possibilities are endless. Make up house rules and add a personal touch.
- Make Rain Sticks. These gently soothing noisemakers mimic the sounds of the rain falling outside, and your kids can make their own! You’ll need a paper towel tube, crayons, aluminum foil, masking tape, dry rice or small beans such as dried lentils, and a long pipe cleaner. Have your child color and decorate the paper towel tube as they like—rainy day images are encouraged! Next, fasten aluminum foil to one end of the tube with the masking tape. Afterwards, coil up the pipe cleaner and fit it lengthwise into the tube, then add the rice or beans. Fasten the other end of the tube with tinfoil and tape to enclose the whole thing. Enjoy the sounds!
- Origami. If your kids are crafty and can handle simple instructions, try making beautiful paper art with them. Download some templates or instructions from the internet, assemple various kinds of paper and a pair of scissors, and you’re off! Try out leftover wrapping paper from Christmas, aluminum foil, construction paper, etc., for different effects. Color your creations for extra pizazz! Once you’ve assembled a menagerie, pierce holes through one end and thread them on a coathanger for a beautiful homemade mobile.
- Arts and Crafts. My daughter loves doing this, but my boys do, too! Try making jewelry: check the internet for basic lanyard and braiding patterns and you can easily make beautiful bracelets and other items with embroidery or other types of cordage. If you have the resources, assemble a collection of pretty beads and buttons and use them to decorate your creations. Cover the dining room table with newspaper, dress the kids in old clothes, and let them go to town with paints. Make up a batch of homemade play-doh if you have none of the storebought kind and have them make something for Dad.
- Action Games. Have a scavenger hunt! Make a list of hidden items and set your kids to looking for them, and the first one that gets all the items gets a special treat—perhaps picking the afternoon’s movie, or the flavor of the juice and kind of cookies for the midafternoon snack. Include your dog! Try hiding treats for Fido in a closed room and see if he or she can sniff them out, with or without a little help from you! Play hide and seek, or charades.
- Kitchen Creations. One of the best ways to have productive and constructive time with your kids is to let them help you in the kitchen. Let them assist you in making cookies or mini pizzas or something else that tickles their fancy. Give each child a job based on their age and capability: breaking and beating eggs, buttering a pan, measuring ingredients, etc. Learning how to act responsibly in the kitchen is invaluable, and it creates a safe and relaxed environment that is conducive to having fun as well as talking about important stuff.
- Dance Party! Dancing is great exercise and fun, and is a fantastic way to tire the kids out in a small space. If you don’t have a game like Dance! Dance! Revolution, it doesn’t matter. Put together a bunch of you and the kids’ favorite dance tunes, clear some space, turn up the speakers, and dance it up! Hold a contest and give everyone prizes (best kick or twirl, funniest move, etc.). Record it for posterity—you might end up the next internet YouTube viral sensation!
- Reading is FUNdamental! Books can take you to places you always dreamed of, and encouraging kids to read is important. Take turns reading to each other aloud. Take your kids’ favorite book and adapt it into a skit. Discuss your favorite parts. For books that have been made into movies, watch them and compare the differences.
Rainy day games and activities can be fun for everyone, with a minimum of cost, cleanup, or room required. Don’t turn on the boob tube…mix it up!