I’ll admit it – I am a lover of crafts and would live in a cottage piled high with cardstock, paint pens, and coloring books if it were socially acceptable. So rainy days have always been my happy place – You mean I have no choice but to stay in and color?? Done.
It’s been a few years, but I do still have (maybe not-so-fond) memories of days trapped indoors with little ones who would rather be out on their swing set. And with older kids, the struggle is still very real – they’re happy to stare at an iPad or Xbox until their eyes cross but I can’t let that go on for long before my Mama Conscience starts to sound the alarm.
Board games, hide and seek, and charades are fun – the first thousand times they’re played. Give us one extra-rainy week in the summer and Mamas have to get creative. So here are some of my family’s favorites that have made rainy days a lot less boring.
The ten minute challenge
Set a timer, announce the challenge, and let your kids go at it. These can work for any age, for one child or several – just adjust to make it fit! My kids are all about competition and will try to one-up each other in any kind of contest, so it’s easy to turn these challenges into something more fun just by making it a competition.
Hand the kids a basket, hamper, or even a grocery bag and give them ten minutes to pick up as many things from the floor (that don’t belong there – rugs and pets don’t count!) as they can. The child who picks up the most items gets to hand their basket off to the other child to put away (serious motivation to pick everything up). Or with just one child, give them five more minutes to put their items away. Win-win for Mama.
Put a twist on the ten minute pickup by assigning a color to each child. “Fill this basket with only red items!” will keep everyone busy as they search your house for items matching their color and is especially fun for little ones just learning colors. And this works great in a playroom when their toys have started taking over. Just work your way through the rainbow and you’ve made a pretty significant dent in the chaos. Boom.
Draw a map from our house to…
Older kids have a pretty good grasp on the route you take to school, the grocery store, etc. Give them ten minutes to draw a map there – I was surprised by how many details my kids knew and how intensely they worked to get every turn correct!
Build the tallest/longest…
Put your blocks and Legos (or even cans or boxes from the pantry) to good use and challenge your kids to build the tallest tower, longest line, biggest circle, etc. Turn it into a competition and my kids can build a tower to the ceiling.
Indoor treasure hunt
My kids love a good scavenger hunt. This printable treasure map is super cute and requires a little pre-planning. On the fly, I’ve written down random objects from various rooms in our house and given them both the list to go at it. Let them take their/your phone or ipod to take photos of each item as they find it. Again, turn it into a contest and you’ll be sure they’ll stay busy and focused. And P.S., kids? Make a mess while hunting and you’re disqualified. 🙂
And again, you just can’t tear me away from a good craft. At this point, I feel like we’ve done almost everything under the sun but below are a few of our very favorites.
Oh how I love me some washi tape. It’s cheap, easy to find (craft stores, Target), easy to remove, and you can find it in almost any design imaginable. Google it and you’ll find endless projects for it. With a sheet of paper and a few rolls of washi tape, get your kids to create a fun design that you can pop in a frame. This link to paper clip jewelry could keep my daughter busy for hours.
My love for Perler beads has been strong for 20+ years. Not great for younger kids (the beads are teeny-tiny and once you’ve dropped a package in the floor you’ll wish you could reverse time like never before) but with a cleared-off table, an iron, and some patience, they can keep older kids (and moms!) busy for a full afternoon. There are tons of great ideas for girls and boys available on their website and I am in love with the (actually wearable!) Perler jewelry from eighteen25.
Cardboard marble maze
I love this idea for all ages. Anything that includes items we already have around the house is always a winner. With a box lid, some straws, marbles, and glue, your kids can work with you to build a fun homemade marble maze that can keep them busy afterward.
The bottom line
I always have to remind myself that kids, at any age, love simple things. They really do. We get wrapped up in electronics and Pinterest and elaborate parties and crafts but honestly – anything out of the ordinary is fun for kids. A simple lunch is made extra special just by serving it picnic-style on a rainy day.
Just switch things up – it’s a surefire cure for boredom on days spent inside. And after you’ve had enough “bonding” time at home, check out our list here of free and inexpensive indoor activities in Knoxville – our city really has so many fun things to keep you busy, rain or shine.