Rainy days can often leave children with so much pent-up energy you wonder if your home will survive the impact. Never fear! Here is a list of rainy day activities that will channel that energy into some excellent quality time full of memories.
25 Rainy Day Activities For Families On A Tight Budget
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Outdoor Rainy Day Activities
As my mother was famous for saying, “you will not melt if you go outside and play in the rain!” In fact, it can be fun to play in the rain no matter what your age. Of course, for best playing conditions you want a mild rainstorm without too much wind. I think the best seasons to play in the rain are spring and fall–especially fall when you can pick up falling leaves and place them in streams the rain has created and watch them float away.
Rain Gear For Comfortable Outside Rainy Play
To enjoy being outside in the rain it is best to have on a raincoat with a hat and rubber boots (they are known as gumboots where I grew up). For extra rain protection, a pair of light rain pants and an umbrella are great editions to your rain wardrobe. When my kids were little, I was able to find all these items in like new condition at thrift stores and yard sales for just a few dollars each at most–except the umbrella, that you are probably going to have to buy new. My favorite style as an adult is this as these are big enough for you and a child or two to walk under. If your child wants their own, this style in a child’s size is reasonably sturdy.
1. Go Puddle Jumping
This activity is pretty self-explanatory and adults—don’t miss out on the fun! Join in and pounce into a puddle or two too!
2. Go Puddlegramming
Ignite your child’s passion for photography by going around and taking pictures of the reflections found in puddles. If you have an Instagram account, post them and add the hashtags #puddlegramming #puddlegrams and #puddle. This activity can be done during or just after the rainstorm
3. Make An Inexpensive Rain Gauge
A simple ruler stuck inside a repurposed glass jar (I am sure you have a jar of something close to empty in your fridge that you could use) plus something to attach the ruler to the inside of the jar is all you need to make an inexpensive rain gauge. Put this outside preferably somewhere that you can view from inside and watch the water level rise inside the jar. When the rainstorm is over be sure to empty it and keep it out there for the next one.
4. Hunt For Worms
I remember being fascinated as a child at all the earthworms that would come out onto the asphalt roads during rainstorms. Count how many worms you can find with your child as you are outside in the rain. When you come back inside, spend some time Googling earthworms and learning all about them.
5. Play With Water Toys In The Puddles
Do you have a few small rubber duckies or plastic sailboats on hand? If so, grab them and head outside to find places that the rain has created a small stream of shallow water. Hold a contest to see which toy can float the fastest. Or find a puddle and try to blow them across with whatever you could use as a fan.
If you don’t mind cleaning up a bit of mud, grab a shovel and a pail and find a muddy spot where the kids can make mud cakes. Another childhood favorite is making footprints and handprints in the mud. Hint—for easier cleanup, put old towels near the door before you head out and when you return have the kids drop their dirty clothes at the door. Help them into the bath and when bath time is done, take the muddy clothes outside and spray the mud off with the garden hose, then place them in the washing machine and wash as normal.
6. Make Rain Music
Rain makes different sounds as it lands on different objects. Experiment with this by placing metal, plastic, and wooden containers outside and listen to the various music created by the rain on the objects.
7. Use The Rain To Create Art
While researching for this article, I found two art projects that require a rainy day for them to be made.
I am sure there are many more ways to create art with rain, may these two examples spark your creativity.
Indoor Rainy Day Activities
8. Visit Free Or Low-Cost Indoor Play Areas
Restaurants with indoor play areas are getting harder to find, but not impossible. If your area has one, they are a great way to burn off some of that amazing child energy on rainy days. To keep the outing inexpensive and to avoid crowds, go during off meal hours and treat everyone to a snack instead of a meal.
When I was just a mom of one, the recreation center near me held an open gym one afternoon a week for two hours at the cost of only $1 per person. It was a great way to meet other moms in the area and let my son play in a larger area than our little living room. Perhaps your town offers something similar? Ask around on Facebook to see what your community offers.
9. Have A Rainy Day Play Date With Friends
Has it been raining several days in a row? Kick the rain frustration to the curb by inviting other moms and their little ones over to your house for coffee, juice and kid-friendly snacks–and a few specialty chocolates to be eaten when the kids are not looking. 🙂
If your children are older and you don’t really know the parents of their friends well enough to spend several hours together, just invite a friend or two of theirs over and enjoy the time your child is playing with his or her friends to work on something you want to get done.
10. Bake Something
A rainy day screams time to bake—or is that just me? I keep a Pinterest board full of new cookie recipes to try, as well as one full of scone and muffin recipes. Children generally love helping in the kitchen—especially if it involves making something yummy.
11. Go To The Library
Libraries are a treasure trove of free entertainment for families. Most libraries offer a lot more than books. Ours has a quiet nook full of puzzles for toddlers to enjoy as well as computers for little ones to play educational games on. Most have books on CD and DVDs of the latest movies as well as classics. Many can give you information as to which apps they support that you can use at home to borrow audiobooks, ebooks, and movies. You might also be able to pick up a schedule of free children’s activities available from the children’s area. The activities usually include story reading times, puppet shows, and art classes.
12. Hold A Family Movie Night In the Afternoon
There is just something special about curling up after lunch all together and enjoying a movie. Make sure everyone has a blanket and a pillow because chances are at least one of you will fall asleep during the show.
13. Make A Fort
Gather up your extra blankets, flat sheets, pillows, and perhaps even some rope if you have it—yarn would work too. Work together to make a fort that you can all fit into. When it is finished, curl up inside with a stack of books and a flashlight and spend some time reading and cuddling.
A few good rainy day reads include:
14. Tidy Up
The children are probably not going to like this one, but rainy days are a great time to clean the house and sort through the clutter. Of course, a family work bee can be made at least a bit more tolerable if you tell them when the cleaning and sorting is done you will be having pizza for dinner.
15. Play Games
When the weather is less than perfect outside, it is the perfect time to bring out the board games and card games.
Here are a few of our family’s favorite games:
16. Create A City
Use whatever you have on hand to create a city on your dining room table or living room floor. You can use boxes, Lego, Play Dough, paper or whatever you have on hand to create your city. When it is done, let the imaginative play begin.
17. Pull Out The Recycling And The Craft Supplies
When my daughter was little, whatever got put into the recycling bin was fair game for making art. I also kept a good supply of glue, markers, pencil crayons, crayons, scissors and tape all on hand so when a bad weather day kept us in, I had all the supplies needed to spend hours creating.
18. Build A Puzzle
Puzzles can be purchased inexpensively, especially after Christmas when many seem to hit the clearance aisle. Pick one up for a rainy day! You can get simple ones you children can do on their own, but it is more of a family bonding experience to get one with a challenging pattern and do it together, especially if your children are older.
19. Set Up Your Campsite Indoors
Did the rain ruin your camping plans? Thrill the kids by setting up the tent in your largest living space. I did this for my children several times when they were little for sleepovers with their friends and they LOVED it. To protect your floor from scratches, put a washcloth over the end of each tent pole and use either a rubber band or a hair elastic to attach it firmly in place. Don’t forget the oven baked smores!
20. Balloon Games
Dig those stray balloons out of the junk drawer and blow them up. Now play a game of who can keep the balloon up in the air the longest—the rules are pretty simple: you must keep your balloon in the air without holding onto it, whoever’s balloon touches the floor last wins.
21. Learn About The Water Cycle
A rainy day is a perfect day to research the water cycle.
22. Host A Video Game Tournament
Mom and dad, join in too even if you don’t usually play. Choose a family friendly game, Wii has some good ones. Of course, this idea is only inexpensive if you already own the Wii and the games for it. But if you don’t, perhaps you have a friend nearby with one who is willing to lend it to you for the day.
23. Break Out The Masking Tape Or Painter’s Tape
24. Hold A Flying Airplane Contest
Have everyone make a paper airplane and see whose can fly the farthest.
25. Color Pictures While Listening To An Audiobook
Type “free rain themed coloring sheets” into Google, and you will find rainy day pictures that you can download and color together. Make the time even more fun by listening to an audiobook together. See if your local library offers free apps such as Hoopla or Overdrive that have a good audiobook selection for all ages.
I hope that these ideas keep rainy day boredom away without blowing your budget.
3 More Articles Full Of Inexpensive Family Activities:
- 25 Fall Activities For Families On A Tight Budget
- 25 Snow Day Activities For Families On A Tight Budget
- 25 Spring Activities For Families On A Tight Budget
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