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Activities on a Rainy Day

Rainy day? Government mandated lockdown? Hiding from a zombie apocalypse? Some ideas to keep your kids busy.

Girl staring at the rain

Saturday morning you slowly wake up, kids are hungry, sort out some breakfast, make them a smoothy. Make yourself a cup of coffee. The aroma fills your senses, the caffeine hit removes the grogginess and your brain kicks from autopilot into manual. You gaze out the window…it’s pissing down. You gaze from the window back towards the kids finishing breakfast then it hits, a wave of panic.

Frustrated man can't stand the noise


You’re stuck inside, kids are stuck inside. Now you have to fill a day, maybe two with some entertainment, some ‘please don’t destroy the house’ activities. You think to yourself, it’s ok, we have electricity, we have Internet, problem solved. But how much Peppa Pig can kids watch? Is it ok to just chuck the TV on and retreat to doing something you’d rather do? No it’s not. You decide that you need to be a good dad, a fun dad, a dad your kids deserve you to be. TV is ok for some of the day, but it’s not enough, it’s not healthy, it’s not productive.

And believe it or not it can be sometimes be easier with more kids in the house. Especially if you have an only child. A friend over will mean they’ll play with each other and not demand your attention all day.

Craft activity with play dough

Don’t Panic

In the words used to describe Planet Earth in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, ‘Don’t Panic’. These are your kids, not a bunch of strangers, and kids are creative, inquisitive, playful, and self sufficient (to a degree). That is, if you give them the opportunity to do so.

Firstly, accept that there will be mess. Mess is a good thing. It usually means kids are having fun and it can all be cleaned up at the end of the day. You need some activities and things for the kids to make memories with. Do you want them looking back in 10 years time with memories only of TV, iPads and Peppa Pig? I hope not.

Young children playing

Fun Times

These are some activities your kids will love:

  • Cubby Houses - You will be surprised just how much time and how much fun kids can have rearranging furniture, placing chairs, tables, beds, footstools, a bunch of heavy books, pegs and bed sheets and linen. Let them go for it, yes it’ll make your house a danger zone for the morning, but they’ll create, problem solve and make a network of tunnels and little multipurpose rooms in which to hide. They’ll have tea parties with teddies and play all sorts of exciting, imaginative games. They may even stay in there all day, have their meals in there and even sleep in there camping style.

  • Play Dough - Play dough can be made at home easy enough with simple ingredients or bought from toy shops. Plasticine or modelling clay are good alternatives and multi-colour packs can be picked up from toy or ‘dollar’ shops really cheap. Hours of make and do fun. Don’t like the mess? Get a sheet of cardboard, some table mats or cover a table with clingfilm to play on. Give them ideas like make a vehicle, an animal or a building to kick them off.

  • Construction activities - A glue gun (kids 5 or 6 years+) or glue sticks, some paddle pop sticks and other bits and pieces are a great make and do. Those cheap dollar shops are a treasure trove for getting this sort of thing. You can kit out a whole box load of craft supplies for not much at all, you’d be surprised.

  • Jigsaws

  • Barbies, Toy cars and other make believe toys. Just getting out a bunch of toys they haven’t used in a while and sticking them in the middle of the floor will give them a few hours lost in a world of imagination.

  • LEGO - No explanation needed. The best toy on the planet.

  • Cook something with them. Great life skill. Bake some cookies or brownies. Check out my article on cooking with children for more info.

  • Hide and Seek - If this was an Olympic sport I’d be a gold medalist. Kids (and me) play for hours

  • Drawing, painting, collage - Always have paper, colour pens, pencils, crayons, paint, scissors, glue sticks around.

  • A bit of DIY with dad. Teach them how to use a hammer and nail, screw with a screwdriver in old bits of spare wood. Just don’t give them a power saw just yet.

Toddler playing in a cubby

Science Fun

Sometimes it’s nice to have some discovery activities that pique kids’ interest. Activities that make them inquire, wonder, ask questions, discover and hypothesise. You don’t need to be a scientist to expose them to investigations and activities that can be done easily at home with basic ingredients and equipment.

Here’s an easy example for you

Grab a plate and pour enough milk to cover it. Get some different colours of food colouring and add a few drops near the middle of the plate. Then get a cotton bud with a bit of washing up liquid on it and dab it in the centre near the food colouring and watch it move.

This is just one example of ‘kitchen science’ that’s fun and engaging for your children at home. Dr Jo is an absolute guru at this sort of thing. Here are some links to some fab experiments she’s put together:

Board game

Board Games

Board games and card games are great activities on a rainy day, but they seem to have taken a back seat since video games bullied them into submission. Board games involve setting up, multiple people, reading instructions, putting away. Video games by comparison are pretty instant, set up on your own.

Board games can offer something that video games don’t. And that’s interaction with others. Yes, you can play multiplayer Xbox on the couch or online and this is great and quite similar. But board games sit you around a table communicating with each other directly. Learning how to wait and take turns, resolving conflict with others you’re playing with (slamming the Monopoly Board shut and storming off sound familiar?). A good teachable moment in dealing with how to win or lose gracefully I’m sure you agree.

Mix it up:

Don’t try and fit all the activities in a single day because there’ll be other days inside and you’ll want to pull out some new ideas each time. But don’t leave them on one activity to get bored and stagnant with. Change it up, let them have some TV and video game time, a bit of reading etc. Set up a timetable for the day to organise things and try to have fun. They ain’t kids for long.

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As with any of my articles and posts, feel free to contact me with feedback or other ideas about things you'd like to see on my site.

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