Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rainy Day Outdoor Activities

We have had quite a few rainy days this summer in Ely and today is one of them.  If you are looking for ways to get outside and enjoy the weather with children, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Create a Rainy Day bin

·         It is important that children are prepared to handle the weather when they go outside to ensure a positive experience.  If they get wet and cold, it is not fun or safe.  At our house we have a rainy day bin by the door.  It contains the following items so we don’t waste time looking for needed clothing and supplies when the sprinkles start to fall:
o    Rain jacket and/or pants
o    Rain boots
o    Waterproof hats
o    Umbrellas
o    Bathing suits (for warm rainy days) and swim diapers (for the young ones)
o    Goggles
o    Buckets

Bubble Fortress

·         To make a bubble fortress, you need a large puddle and some bio-degradable dish soap. Pour some of the soap into the puddle and use straws to blow piles of bubbles on the driveway. Experiment with different sizes of straw and other tools. See how far you can spread the bubble fortress before the rain pops the bubbles.
·         You can blow bubbles in the rain, too!  When hands are wet the bubbles will not pop – try to catch them! 
·         Directions to make a large bubble wand.
·         Directions to make a home-made bubble solution

Water Pipe Building

·         For children with an interest in contraptions and gadgets, building water pipes in the yard is a great rainy day activity. Set a goal on getting the most water into a bucket just with the rain. Using cardboard paper towel rolls or other materials, try to funnel and direct the water from a dripping tree, across the yard and into the bucket.

Rainy Day Nature Walk

·         Going on a nature walk on a rainy day allows you and your children to see many things you would not normally see. You can study how water runs down trees, or what type of leaf is best at protecting you from the rain.
·         You can jump in puddles.  Who can find the biggest puddle? Who can make the biggest splash?
·         Go on a scavenger hunt and look for the following items:
o    4 worms
o    A rainbow
o    A puddle
o    A leaf falling from a tree
o    Something that’s dry
o    An insect hiding from the rain
o    An animal print or footprint in the mud

Find Out What Do Animals Do When It Rains

·         Look for animal tracks.  A great place to look is in muddy areas or near water. Try to figure out or imagine what animal the tracks are from.
·         Look for animals or insects who are hiding from the rain. If you are near a park or in a garden, look under leaves, on bark, and in holes. If you are on an urban street, look under overhangs and on the sides of buildings. You will find spiders, moths, and many birds hiding from the rain. If you live near the ocean, you may also find a flock of damp seagulls sitting on lamp posts or on the grass of a field, waiting for the rain to stop.  Try to imagine where you would hide if you were a butterfly or a beetle.

Make Mud Pies
·         Kids won't need your help to figure out how to have fun in the rain, but sometimes they need your encouragement to get those hands and fingers messy and muddy. Have them use their hands to sculpt the mud into different shapes. 
      Take the mud pie theme a step further, by creating your own mud pie kit. Collect some old spoons, pie tins and measuring cups or cookie cutters. Have any orange juice jugs or small milk cartons around? Use these as molds for mud bricks, which your kids can dry out another day when the sun is shining.
·         Tiptoe around the sides of little rivers and puddles and squish your boots into the soil. Wiggle them to make mud. Then bring the experiment indoors if you dare. A little soil from a garden, some sand, some water and a jar and children can make mud inside and out.
Take a rain shower
·         If you really want to make your kids laugh, suggest they wash their hair outside. Kids will love the quirkiness of shampooing their hair in the rain!

Worm Spotting

·         Worms love to come out when it’s wet and raining out. How many can you see?  Dig for worms in a hole in the ground or in a compost bin.

Music and Dance

·         Bring containers outdoors and see what the rain sounds like when it slaps into the front and back of them. Try metal containers and place them beside the corner of a building for the biggest noise.
·         Use the containers along with spoons, spatulas, sticks, rocks and other found items to make music.
·         Grab an umbrella (or not) and sing and dance.  Try some of these popular songs:
o    Singing in the Rain 
o    Rain, Rain, Go Away
o    It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
o    Itsy Bitsy Spider
o    What’s the Weather Like Today

Rainy Day Memories

·         Give the kids a disposable waterproof camera and have them take photographs of rain drops, worms, puddles and each other enjoying the rainy weather.

Water Party

·         Celebrate the rain with a water party complete with a Slip ‘n Slide.
·         Pull out the baby pool and have boat races – kids can blow on the sails to make them go faster.
·         Stick race - put two sticks in one of the streamlets of water running down the street (or a real live stream, if you're near one) and see which stick "wins" the race.
·         Water balloon toss – toss either water balloons into buckets of water placed at differing distances or stand in a circle and toss to one another.  The first one to drop it is out.
·         Balance the water bowl – each person puts a plastic bowl or container of water on their head and races from one side of the yard to the other.
·         How much rain will fall in the jar – each person takes a guess and using a permanent marker draws a line on the jar and puts their initial next to it.

Become a Water Detective

·         Find out where the water goes. Follow a small stream down a street to a storm drain, or discover a small lake or a giant puddle. This can be the beginning of a larger exploration of your neighborhood, to larger streams or to an estuary where hidden drains emerge into the water. If the water goes underground, try to find out where it goes. Municipalities will have a list of the drains and their entrances and exits.

Get Artistic With the Rain

·         Many children love to draw on the driveway or sidewalks with big pieces of chalk. However, this is usually done on warm, sunny days. Next time it rains, gather up your chalk and head out to the driveway.  In the rain, the chalk will become more like paint. If you have a flat driveway, your children can enjoy swirling the chalk together in puddles. If your driveway is sloped, they can create masterpieces with colors running downhill.
·         Paint with rain. If you find a promising puddle catch some of the rain in containers. Give the children giant brushes and let them paint the house, driveway, sidewalk or themselves!
·         Mix up a bowl of mud and move to a covered area outdoors with some construction paper and paint a masterpiece while listening to the rain fall. Try painting a little mud onto the back of a leaf, rock or stick and stamp them onto the construction paper.

Make it Educational

·         Find the answers to the following questions together:
o    What makes clouds?
o    How is rain made?
o    Where do rainbows come from?
o    What changes do you see?  Have them observe how things change with the rainy weather and then draw a picture of what they see.
o    How much rain will fall today?  Measure the rainfall. Put out a rain gauge and measure the rainfall. Have the kids watch the weather report or do some research online about how much rain fell in other parts compared to where you live.  Use the water on a sunny day to water plants, make mud pies and paint with water.

These rainy day activities help children learn that they won’t melt in the rain.  When we are prepared with the clothing and supplies we need being outside in the rain can be tons of fun!  

There are many ideas out there.  If you have some family favorites, don't be a stranger - post them in the comment section below.  We look forward to hearing from you!

If the weather is unsafe (thunder and lightning) then it is better to stay inside.  Here are some quick inside activities you can try inside:
·         Make a fort
·         Pile up blankets and pillows and take a nap together
·         Paint with shaving cream
·         Make cloud dough or salt dough to create sculptures
·         Have a dance party with music
·         Bake a healthy snack together
·         Read from your favorite book together        
·         Play games (flashlight tag, hide and seek, etc.)