101 Rainy Day Boredom-Busters For Preschoolers and Toddlers

101 Rainy Day Boredom-Busters For Preschoolers and Toddlers | www.thisgratefulmama.com

Play

  • Bubble wrap – Pop!
  • Dominoes – set up and watch them fall
  • Indoor camping – why not roast marshmallows over the stove?
  • Closet fort – a very private, very dark fort
  • Go on a trip – pack ‘bags’ and take a trip on a couch-airplane
  • Build a toy city – block  homes and businesses, masking tape roads
  • Blanket fort – a pile of books and flashlights. Be sure to climb in and read to them in the ‘dark’
  • Play Doh – change it up with cookie cutters, silverware, Lego men, matchbox cars or simply explore color mixing
  • Animal pretend –  act out different animals and guess what they are (our son calls this playing ‘Wild Krats”)
  • Opposites – learn what opposites ARE, then get silly practicing doing the opposite
  • Obstacle course – send them through, around, over and under
  • Tongs pick up – give tongs to pick up toys
  • Marshmallow and toothpicks – build bridges, buildings and more
  • Puddles – make good use of those rain coats and rain boots and splash like you won’t get wet!
  • Foam letter tiles – call out different letters to find and stand on, put them in alphabetical order, or create words
  • Float or sink bath party – put on swim suits and guess which toys will float or sink, then test it out
  • Expanding foam capsules – found a pack for $1 at Target. Just as fun as when we were kids
  • Balloon rockets – tape a straw to a balloon and send it down a string. Set up a few ‘tracks’ and race them
  • Giant Tic-Tac-Toe – use masking tape for a giant Tic-Tac-Toe board
  • Indoor bowling – set up an indoor bowling lane with empty plastic bottle ‘pins’
  • Store, restaurant, or library – practice counting money, writing orders and following directions
  • Act out a story – help them act out a favorite book or bible story – record to watch on another rainy day
  • String spider web – grab a ball of string or twine and crate a web – ‘cut it out’ when it gets too tangled
  • Dance or jump party – find some peppy music and let loose
  • Indoor sand – fake sand is so fun!
  • Paper airplane games – throw through hoops, see how far it can go, throw from top of stairs
  • Shadow puppets – a great activity for that closet fort. Silly voices and a silly story make them tons of fun
  • Dress up – it never gets old
  • Board games
  • Hide and seek – focus not only on hiding but on counting!
  • Simon Says – we always play outside but it’s a great activity for a rainy day
  • Puzzles – do as many as they can OR find a puzzle a little (or a lot) out of their skill level and work on it together

Kitchen Fun

  • Make their own recipe – help them choose and measure ingredients. Write down their very own ‘recipe’ (yogurt parfait, french toast and toppings, trail mix). Decorate their own recipe box
  • Tea Party – boys and girls will enjoy this, especially with water in the tea-pot and snacks – make it extra fun by dressing up and talking in silly voices
  • Homemade popsicles – juice, fruit, blend and freeze
  • Jello juice jigglers – cut out shapes with cookie cutters
  • Bake – practice following directions, measuring, mixing, and making observations (smell, color, texture)
  • Make healthy trail mix – practice counting and picking healthy snacks – raisins, crasins, roasted soy beans or chickpeas (or nuts), sunflower or pumpkin seeds, and maybe surprise them with a few mini marshmallows

Create

  • Paper plate frisbees – decorate and toss for some indoor fun
  • Create ‘rain’ with shaving cream
  • Pipe cleaner fun – make shapes, decorate a colander, sort them, make flowers
  • Build a box car and enjoy a ‘drive in’ movie – what to do with old boxes and paper plates? Make cars. Add popcorn and a PBS show…
  • Make photo prayer cards – print and cut out pictures of friends and family and glue onto index cards. Grab a few per night to pray for loved ones
  • Activity jars – a fun idea to make together!
  • Glue paper scraps – one of our son’s favorite activities is to take all his paper scraps and glue them into something (they turn out amazing – birds, houses, you name it!)
  • Make a Mural – stretch out a long roll of paper and create a long story or one long picture
  • Diorama – remember making these in elementary school? Provide a shoe box and help them make a scene from their favorite book, or a city of landscape for Lego people or mini dinosaurs
  • Record a video – record a video message or photo sign message and send it to a loved one or friend
  • Rainy day art – water colors make great rainy day pictures, or just open the box of art supplies and let them create
  • Decorate and celebrate – let them decorate with leftover streamers and party supplies and throw a birthday party for their favorite bear or toy
  • Write and mail letters – create cards, practice writing, and mail a special note or card to a loved one
  • Explore color mixing – grab paints and explore mixing different colors together
  • Indoor snow storm – cut paper snow flakes and string them up all over
  • Create a blog post – I’d love to post something the kids wrote if they are interested in doing so!
  • Paper chain – make enough loops to count down to the next big activity, birthday or holiday
  • Make up a song – encourage them to sing a silly song or make up their own words to a familiar tune
  • Crazy crayons – you kept those broken crayons for a reason!
  • Jewelry – practice fine motor skills with beads and string
  • Life size portrait – trace their body (use the backside of wrapping paper if you don’t have a big roll paper) and let them decorate it
  • Write and illustrate a story book – fold paper to create a book to illustrate and help them write their own story
  • Make photo pendants – yes, even a child can do this with help
  • Cut straws – cut straws into ‘beads’ then string together or glue onto paper
  • Large connect the dots – on the biggest roll of paper you have – as high as they can count (and higher with your help!)

Science & Learning

  • Non standard measurement – see how many body-lengths a room is, then measure with their feet, their favorite blanket or toy. Measure with a measuring tape to tell them how big it really is
  • How Crayons were Made – old school Mr. Rogers Neighborhood video of how crayons are made – and then do some drawing
  • Homemade balance – explore weights
  • Sensory guessing box – have them feel inside and guess what the items are
  • Play I Spy
  • Clean pennies – using vinegar and salt. Vary times and make observations
  • Extract DNA from a banana – did you know you can extract DNA that you can SEE right at your kitchen table with supplies you have in your house? It is so cool! A preschooler can than do this (and yes, even YOU who may not know much about science)
  • Explore capillary action – use food coloring and celery or some fresh-cut flowers
  • Plant beans in a jar – you know that bag of beans you bought for soup but didn’t use? Plant some beans and learn about the plant life cycle
  • Watch a documentary – find a kids animal or nature documentary on Netflix (watch for G ratings and be prepared to fast forward through animal hunting scenes as needed for your child)
  • Make your own rainstorm – by exploring steam and condensation
  • Tornado in a bottle – with two 2-liter bottles, water and duct tape
  • Baking soda and colored vinegar – pour baking soda on a baking sheet + drops of food-colored vinegar = foamy colored bubbles
  • Oil and water – explore both mixing and freezing
  • Measure rain fall – put a container outside (bucket, cup, anything will do) and measure the rainfall as it comes down
  • Learn about rainbows – and why God made them
  • Explore speed and distance – set up a ramp and see which car goes the furthest and which is the fastest

Just BE together

  • Watch the storm – count the time between lighting and thunder. Explain what thunder and lightning are
  • Read – start a chapter book or read as many picture books as they want
  • Encourage – make a game out of telling each child what you like about them, what makes you proud of them, and what they are good at

 Practice

  • Sort change – dump change on a baking sheet and sort by size, color, or cleanliness
  • Flash cards – numbers, letters, sight words
  • Tape hopscotch – use masking tape – practice motor skills and counting
  • Somersaults
  • Learn and recite scripture memory verses
  • Write the alphabet – big and small letters

Develop New Skills

  • Gratitude list – help them write their own or start a gratitude journal
  • Quiet time – set them up in a comfy space with their bible and those prayer cards – model what to do by doing your quiet time too
  • Learning while cleaning – sort the toy box by color or shape as you clean it out and put things where they belong together
  • Chores – at this age, it’s still fun to ‘help’. Put them to work matching socks, folding their own laundry and putting it away
  • Photography – let them pick what to photograph and explore what different camera settings do
  • Make music – find musical instruments (or make some). Record it
  • Listen to classical music – explain what instruments are being played
  • Tape balance beam – create a long straight or zig zag ‘balance beam’ out of masking tape
  • Indoor scavenger hunt – make a list and send them hunting
  • Yoga – kids can do yoga and they think it is pretty fun, especially with their own mat
  • Hammer time – let them hammer golf tees into dense styrofoam, or for the more skilled child – nails into a board
  • 10 Minute Challenges – so great!

Sprinkler System. Yep, That’s Me.

sprinkler

What really wakes me up at 630 AM? Was it the run I just finished? Nope. A freezing blast to the face from the sprinkler as the wind catches the spray, forcing it in the opposite direction from which it was purposefully aimed.

Yikes!

Last year, as new homes finally got sod, just one other poor soul was out there, throwing up a simple wave each morning. A sign of solidarity as we wrangled hoses and sprinklers. I must say, I’m glad it wasn’t just me, even if they mastered not getting sprayed in the face and I did not.

Windy morning after yet another windy morning, trying to force the water into submission, my sole purpose was to not let the new sod die. Struggling to master what some might find easy, I’d hear the surging spray erupt from well-oiled machines in (almost) everyone else’s yard – one by one, a ticking clock of sprinkler heads.

Sprinkler systems – admittedly a source of irrigation envy on many-a-morning.

As with many neighborhoods, there’s a lot of small talk as we meet and greet new neighbors. In spring, the small talk is often about sod…and sprinkler systems. It is almost assumed that you have one.

When asked, my husband and I sometimes joke that we do.

Me.

Sprinkler system in the flesh.

Only, lets not get too hasty in calling me a ‘system‘ or I might get a big head. It’s kind of like when I worked for a certain genetics company and someone started referring to me as the ‘equipment department’ to customers. Ha! Tech service calls and repairs definitely taught me a thing or two, but I was no department…but I digress…back to the sprinklers! I have found a method that seems to work but ‘system‘ suggests that I’m not still getting sprayed in the face on a regular basis.

Believe it or not, once the watering twice a day because it refused to rain last July, and our sod watering permit expired, it actually wasn’t so bad.

In fact, having to water my own lawn may actually have a few minor perks.

I appreciate what I once did not. The every-other-day watering restriction used to seem like a bummer. A limitation. Nope. It is freedom! No matter how hot, I just cannot water on odd-numbered days. At the end of certain months…I get TWO days off. In a ROW. And no more disappointment when the sun isn’t shining – rain is a gift, washing away sprinkling duties.

I have to get up for it. I cannot water my lawn with two small children without watering them. It’s further motivation to keep getting up early, run, and start sprinklers when I return. Then I my bible and have plenty of time to read, study and pray…albeit with a couple of trips to move sprinklers and perhaps some towelling off. Then, hot coffee and a shower, and I’m ready just in time to greet those sweet little faces as they wake.

It saves money. We obviously saved by skipping the initial purchase of a sprinkler system, but last year, we also saved big on our water bills. When several neighbors told us the cost of their sprinkler-system driven water bills, we were shocked. Ours wasn’t just a little less, it was a lot less. Trust me, when you are moving it around, you are keenly aware of how much water is going on your lawn, and elsewhere. Our ‘method’ takes into account wind so we only place sprinklers where water actually hits our grass – Not the neighbor’s yard (sorry), the street, or the weeds behind us.

We are so blessed. By now, you know me, I’m always looking for a way to be grateful and joyful regardless of my circumstance. It’s here – even in a cold spray to the face. I am grateful we have a lawn instead of a dirt and weed pit like we did at the beginning of last summer. We have two hoses and two new sprinklers that work (last year 2 marginally worked and one simply did not).

We have clean, drinkable water that we use to water our grass. Just consider that. We should all be very careful in complaining about having such excess of a resource that many in the world die without.

Watering the lawn without a sprinkler system is a true first-world problem.

Trivial.

Sure, maybe someday we’ll install a sprinkler system. It would be a true luxury. But for now…hoses and sprinklers are good enough. A little self-discipline never hurt anyone. And, since my neighbors can see my inept attempt at escaping the spray, it can be seen as a humbling experience.

While I know I’ll probably still be excited to quit sprinkling by mid-summer, for now, I’m committed to enjoy it. Our lawn may not be as plush as some of the others, but it sure will have deep roots.

As new sod is laid out like carpet in our new neighbors yards, some of you will see me out there in the morning. My smile and wave hopefully will communicate an appreciation and understanding for your watering struggles.

Be encouraged; if I haven’t killed my sod yet, you won’t kill yours. That would take some serious skill.

Solidarity, my friends.

What’s a Little Rain?

 

When I woke up this morning I had basic expectations for the day: clean the house, run an errand, go to the grocery store.  I noticed the gloomy clouds outside but it didn’t really phase me. I grabbed a yogurt and started making a cup of coffee. Regular. Normally I drink decaf, but my daughter was up for over an hour (teething) in the middle of the night and I was struggling to wake up.

I found myself busy getting each child ready and fed, throwing in some laundry, running the garbage out, and getting myself ready. Most of this was done with my unusually clingy daughter in my arms.  Inevitably, I forgot about my coffee until it was too late – No longer hot. My morning coffee usually ends this way. Hot cup of coffee sitting under my Keurig, getting cold as we get ready for the day. I decide I will drink it anyway and transfer it to a mug, to-go. Sigh. I miss hot coffee.

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Crash! The first thunderclap rattles my home, and my son. Terrified, he sprints from the other room. In his panic, he slips and falls, smacking hard onto the floor. Many hugs later, we’re loaded in the car. I explain to him that thunder is just a noise and that rain makes things grow. I like the rain.

I ask him, what’s a little rain?

We start driving and the sky opens up. Monsoon style. Thankful for the lights of the car in front of me, I focus on staying in our lane as the wipers furiously work to give me a quick glimpse of the road.  Yikes. Probably should have looked at the weather. This is not going as planned.

Finally, as we pull into our destination, the rain lets up and we rush inside. We run into a friend in the hallway. She mentions that she too hasn’t had any coffee yet. Ugh! I forgot my mug at home. We continue with our other errands.

We find a DRY shopping cart (Phew) and get our shopping done fast. I begin to notice freshly drenched people running in and wiping water off their faces and glasses. Oh boy…maybe it will let up.

It doesn’t. Usually I’d brave it, but we’re not properly dressed and this is a torrential downpour. We wait 5 minutes. A man comes in, dripping wet, and offers to stand with my kids outside while I run and get the car. Untrusting, I say thank you but that we will wait. We wait 5 more minutes. It doesn’t let up. It begins to thunder, loudly. My poor toddler begins to lose it so we make a run for the car.

What’s a little rain?

Our rain coats were left in daddy’s car from the weekend. My kids have on their winter coats with hoods, they stay relatively dry. I am in a sweatshirt. Poor planning. I load the kids quickly, removing their soaked coats so they can be warm in the car.  I load my drenched groceries in the trunk and return the cart. One of my shoes gets filled with water from the river streaming through the parking lot. My cheap, plastic shoe is emptied before closing my car door.

I am soaked. My groceries are soaked. My purse is soaked. I close the door and look back and my son and he laughs at my wet hair. I look. It is a mess, plastered to my forehead, windblown and matted down. My daughter, not wanting to miss out on fun, starts fake laughing, which generates real laughter from both of them, and from me.

That is what you call a LOT of rain.

We get half way home and the gas light comes on.  Apparently our sprint in the rain is making me giddy. I start cracking up. Of course we need gas. It is that kind of day. Plus, it’s not like I have to worry about getting wet. We stop for gas, grateful for the roof.

I get back in the car and my son tells me the rain makes the plants grow. He tells me something I tell him all the time – that rain was made by God and God only makes good things.

Truth, retold by a 3 year old, sounds so sweet.

I unload the kids at home. I dry off our groceries and make lunch. I run to change my clothes while they are eating.   My teething daughter needs to be rocked to sleep, but my son wants me in his room, afraid of thunder that isn’t present at the moment. I can’t do both. I explain to my son that the rain has slowed. I rock my daughter as my son cries for me to come back. She falls asleep and I lay her down just as the thunder returns with vengeance.

I move my son into my room and make him a bed on the floor. I tell him I’ll lay down too but he needs to try to rest. I can tell he is tired and may actually sleep today. I plan to wait until he is asleep and do some reading. I wake up an hour later, he’s sleeping and apparently so have I. Can’t remember the last time I took a nap! Lovely. Probably couldn’t have done that with coffee in my system.

When we get up, I throw some coffee grounds into the French Press, fill it with water and stick it in the fridge. Iced coffee tomorrow. At least I don’t have to worry about it getting cold. No fuss, no mess. Recalling my error in looking up the weather this morning, I look up tomorrow’s weather. It should be nice. Tomorrow I can have my coffee break outside as the kids play.

This day did not go as expected. I did not clean my house and I did not finish all my errands. I did not enjoy a cup of coffee. But, I did make some silly memories getting soaked in the rain, and spent time comforting my kids. Despite the unplanned weather, we have groceries to make dinner. I call that success. We can finish that other stuff up tomorrow.

So I ask again, What’s a little rain?

Today it was a surprise to me, unpredictable and out of my control. Rain washes things away, leaving behind something wet, moldable, and messy. Today rain changed what was likely to be just like any other routine Monday and added some excitement. We did get wet, but we also laughed.We laughed hard.

The rain created new opportunity, changed the pace of our day and left me feeling thankful that it did.

My son says his favorite part of today was seeing other people getting soaked in the rain. Me too.