Is your child a pluviophile, someone who finds joy and peace of mind on rainy days? Whether or not your answer is “yes,” please remember rain (whether a little or a lot) doesn’t need to keep them from enjoying the outdoors. A rainy day has its advantages and its own special feel, letting your kids experience their environment in a whole new way. Finding the right rainy day activities can help your kids bring a new level of joy to their outdoor play!
This quote from Nicolette Sowder outlines another important reason for getting a little wet:
“Encouraging a child to go outside in all weather builds resilience, but more importantly it saves them from spending their life merely tolerating the ‘bad’ days in favor of a handful of ‘good’ ones – a life of endless expectations and conditions where happiness hinges on sunshine.”
In addition to the fun that can be had, we’re also helping build character!
Here are a few outdoor activities to spark your children’s imagination and interact with a rainy day:
Be An Engineer
Find where water is flowing somewhere in your backyard. Gather together your construction materials: mud, sticks, leaves, and rocks. Decide if you’d like to redirect the water, restrict the flow, or stop it entirely. Then get to work, test out different techniques and show off your engineering skills! (When finished, please dismantle.)
Walk around your neighborhood and look for where the water goes. Does it pool in puddles or flow down the street? Where does it go? Where are the drains located? What happens when they get clogged?
Gather together some old straws, funnels, pipes, bark, containers, pool noodles, etc. Then look around your yard to see where the rain is dripping or draining. Can you re-direct the rainwater or collect it by diverting it into a single container? Save the rain you’ve collected and use it later for watering your garden.
Be A Meteorologist
Write your own weather report and present it to your family. Observe the weather: How would you describe the rain? Is there much wind? Does the wind affect the rain?
Record The Rainfall:
Build a rain gauge and estimate how much will fall today. Keep track of it for several rainy days in a row and note any differences.
Be An Artist
Before heading outside, do a drawing using watercolors or washable markers. Try different materials, using paper towels, printer paper, and card stock. Next, take your artwork into the rain. Set a timer for 10 minutes, then check to see how the rain has affected your piece. If it hasn’t changed much, check back again later. Was the paper towel affected more or less by the rain than the card stock? What else do you observe?
Try out an all-natural medium: Mud! Choose your paintbrush: A stick, a branch, grass tied to a stick, or an old paintbrush. Then collect some mud to use as paint and (with your parent’s permission), get creative! Paint your outdoor toys, and draw on your driveway. Another option is to collect mud from different sources around your yard, then bring them inside. Using an old paintbrush, test out your mud samples on paper and note the similarities and differences: color, texture, viscosity, etc.
Since you can’t actually eat mud pies, you may as well make them look great! Fill a pie plate or any shallow container with mud. Then work on the decorations. Using only natural materials, create a pattern on top or see if you can add height and texture.
Bring out your sidewalk chalk and see how it is affected by the rain. Is the color lighter or darker than normal? Is it harder or softer? Draw a picture on your driveway, sidewalk, patio, etc. (with permission), and estimate how long it might take for it to be washed away by the rain.
Be A Biologist
Go for a nature walk in your yard, neighborhood, or local trail. What insects* or other creatures do you see? Look for rain-loving creatures: slugs, snails, worms. (If you don’t see any, head out after the rain to check again.) Then think about where other animals have gone. If they don’t like the rain, where do they take shelter?
Be A Musician
With your parents’ permission, gather some materials: metal bowls, tinfoil pan, sticks, spoons, cups, etc. Listen to the sound of the raindrops on different materials and decide which sound you like the best.
Ask your parent for a collection of glasses or jars that are the same size. Then fill each one with water at different levels. (Glasses/jars will work best.) Tap on them with a stick or a spoon to see how the sound differs depending on the level of water. Which glass/jar makes the highest pitched sound? The one with the most water or the least? Make your own music by tapping them in different orders, using your own rhythm.
Be An Explorer
Wearing appropriate footwear (hint: wellies/rainboots), take a walk around your neighborhood on the hunt for puddles. Muddy puddles, deep puddles, shallow puddles… They all count! Once you find one, take the next crucial step and… JUMP IN! Splish splash and have a ball. You can also take it a step further and see how big of a splash you can make. What results in the biggest splash: the largest puddle or the deepest puddle?
Either when it is still raining or directly afterward, go on a worm hunt! These wriggly friends can often be found in vulnerable positions on sidewalks or pavement. Take a small bucket with you and head out on your rescue mission. Once you’ve rescued the worms, think about where they will be safest. (Tip: they are helpful to a vegetable garden!)
Be A Builder
Build A Boat:
Collect your building materials: paper, bark, sticks, leaves, string, etc. Think about how you can use the materials: What would work best for the hull of the boat? And for the sail? Will a paper boat work well? Construct your boat and test it out to see if it will float. If not, adjust your design and try again! If you don’t have a creek or pond nearby, just fill a bucket with water and test your design. When there is no wind, make your own wind using your breath, a paper fan, etc.
Build A Castle:
Bring out your beach toys and re-invent your sandbox! Instead of dry, fluffy sand, you will now have wet, packable sand. Perfect for… a sandcastle! If you can’t go to the beach, bring the beach to you! Decorate it with loose parts from around your yard (acorns, rocks, sticks, leaves), and don’t forget to give your castle a name!
Next time, don’t let a little rain stop you from having wonderful outdoor adventures. As we are sometimes reminded,
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
Sir Ranulph Fiennes
So, in the name of adventure, let’s choose a few outdoor rainy day activities, dress appropriately, don a positive attitude, and head outside into the wet wonderland.
Please remember to keep your activities safe!
Wearing the right clothing and gear is important to keep rainy day play safe and comfortable. Rain jackets (with hoods) and rainboots are best, allowing for uninhibited play, although umbrellas also have their role.
In the case of high winds, lightning, and electrical storms, bring your play back indoors and have fun watching mother nature’s spectacle from the safety of your home.
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