Often, in our busy lives, the first and easiest thing to do when it’s nasty outside is turn on a child’s favorite movie or television show or hand them a tablet or computer. However, too much screen time can be detrimental to a child’s development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one hour of high-quality programming per day for children two to five years old.
On the other hand, creative, play-based activities do wonders for the cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development of children. Play also provides astounding benefits for adults. At Brookshire Learning Center, we are huge fans of play. It supports our Core Company Value of Human Connection and so much more. For more on the benefits of play for all ages, see the links at the end of the article.
Here are five creative and low-cost activities for a rainy day.
When it’s raining, consider letting your child sit by the window and paint what they see outside. Painting is a fun, creative outlet that can leave kids easily entertained. If you don’t have paint brushes, don’t worry. Many household items work great for creative painting like spoons, forks, Q-tips, and sponges.
For a bonus, add a small amount of light corn syrup to watercolors, or to a DIY paint made with water and food coloring. This will leave the paint shining just like the water puddles they are watching outside the window.
Sensory bins are a great open-ended activity that will expand your child’s imagination while feeding their need for sensory input. They’re also great because they can be as messy or as clean as you want.
For a messy activity consider a DIY goop. For this activity mix one-part liquid starch with two parts of clear glue. Your child can use markers to draw in the goop or use blocks to create a “cement” for bricks to make buildings.
For a cleaner sensory bin for children that do not put items in their mouth, tape paper towel tubes or toilet paper tubes to the inside of a deeper plastic bin and fill the bin with rice or different sized caps and let their imagination go wild. For added fun and learning, consider letting your child create their own mazes and tunnels. Not only is this a great STEM activity, but it will also boost their confidence in their ability to create as well as naturally increase their desire to stay persistent through challenging activities.
Staying inside does not mean you have to find quiet activities to keep your child engaged. Another fun way to pass the time, while building lasting memories, is to pump up the music and have a dance party with the music of your choice.
If you do not have crazy dance skills, no worries! Have fun laughing and being silly. To ramp up the fun of dancing, you can create dance wands with colorful ribbons and long sticks. Just cut ribbons to your desired length and knot them around different sticks.
Puzzles and Books
Sometimes the best way to pass the time on a rainy day is to deepen your child’s desire to solve problems. Books and puzzles are a classic staple for any rainy day that can increase your child’s social-emotional skills.
When reading, ask your child what the characters are doing. If the character is not listening or sees someone hurt, ask what the character could be doing instead to make others feel better. Additionally, you and your child can create your own book about your daily routines, or about strong emotions they have had.
Puzzles are another wonderful way to build up persistence and pride and can be a great tool to use to go over feelings. If you do not have puzzles at home, you and your child can create a puzzle by drawing a picture and cutting out large pieces from the paper. If a puzzle seems challenging and your child seems frustrated, point out to your child, “I see this is a tough activity for you. I love that you have worked hard on the puzzle. Would you like it if I helped you, or do you want to walk away and come back to it when you are calmer?” These types of questions are great for helping children understand their feelings while giving them solutions that they can easily follow through.
Who said you had to stay inside if it is raining? If there is no thunder or lightning, playing outside in the rain is another great option. This is great sensory input for the kids, as well as it is fun to catch raindrops in your mouth as you jump in rain puddles. Another great idea is to set out a small bucket and observe how much rain you can collect during a rain shower.
There are many activities that you can do with your child that will not leave you running to the television or other electronic devices. What are some of your favorite rainy day activities? If you have tried some of these activities, how did it work for your family?
For more information on screen time recommendations for children, please see
For more on the benefits of play, please see
*Note 1: Dr. Brown’s definition of play is not the commonly used one. Another article later will go into the details of why this is so.
*Note 2: We are big fans of Dr. Brown’s book. We do not receive credit or payment of any kind for orders placed through the link to the book.
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