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Eight Display-Free Wet Day Actions to Preserve Children Busy and Engaged Indoors

December 5, 2022
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rainy day activities for kids

When the weather won’t cooperate and the kids are bouncing off the walls, what’s a frustrated mom to do? We all know the importance of our kids getting outdoors and being active. There’s no dispute there. But, sometimes that’s tricky…particularly on days when it’s raining. What do you do then? How about trying some of these screen-free rainy day activities?

To be honest, these ideas can be used any time the kiddos can’t go outside to play. If you live in the South where summers are long and hot, here are some indoor things your kids can do until the temperatures outside are bearable again! If you live in the North where winters are long and cold, these ideas are for you! Got a kid who’s not feeling well and needs something quiet to do indoors? Give these ideas a try.

rainy day activities

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If you have a go-to list of activities on hand to keep your kids busy and engaged when they can’t get outside to play, rainy days (and other days you need to spend indoors) will be happier for everyone! Of course, it’s good for kids to be bored and learn to entertain themselves. However, when that isn’t working and everyone needs a reset, here are some ideas for you to have on hand. 

8 Screen-Free Rainy Day Activities to Keep Kids Busy and Engaged Indoors

1. Listen to an audiobook or podcast.

Technology is a beautiful thing, amirite? Podcasts and audiobooks can be accessed for free with a few quick taps on any smart device. They can be found through your local library via the Libby app, on Audible’s free streaming story service, or on your go-to podcatcher.

The best thing about podcasts and audiobooks? There’s something for everyone — every age and every interest. (If you have kids who are interested in science, technology, and math, try some of these STEAM podcasts for curious kids!)

Also, audio goes well paired with a quiet activity that keeps little hands busy…puzzles, coloring books, blocks, and Legos all work well for this purpose. Or, how about some Shrinky Dinks and perler beads? (Do you remember those?!) 

2. Break out a new puzzle or board game.

This is an activity the whole family can enjoy together. 

Pick up a few jigsaw puzzles and keep them on hand for days when you’re stuck indoors. These also pair well with audio, as suggested above (particularly an exciting chapter book).

Or bring out a favorite board game and play it together. There are even some fabulous nature games you can play if you want to add some nature study to your board games.

So light the fireplace (if it’s cold outside), whip up some yummy snacks, and gather the family ‘round the kitchen table. Spend the afternoon listening to the sound of the rain tap, tap, tapping on the roof while putting together your new jigsaw puzzle or playing your game. (Or, of course, listen to your audiobook together!) 

3. Build a fort and snuggle up with a good book.

Kids love to build forts. And why not? It gives them a special space they can design all on their own. Let them use kitchen chairs, couch cushions, extra blankets and sheets…whatever you can spare for the day. Then, let them prepare a few fun snacks and pick out a good book to take into their own cozy corner. This’ll keep ‘em entertained for hours. You might even want to consider adding some reading days to your homeschool no matter the weather! But rainy days inside a fort are especially fantastic days for reading. 

And, when the fun is done, it’s a great opportunity to teach them to clean up after themselves! I’ve found they usually handle the clean-up part better if I talk with them ahead of time about my expectations and let them know they’re going to be responsible for putting things away at the end of playtime or the end of the day–whichever comes first. 

4. Build something or do something crafty.

If you’ve got a budding artist, a rainy day is a great time to break out those art supplies that don’t get used very often. Or, make use of those Amazon delivery boxes you’ve been meaning to recycle. Let the kids cut, tape, and color to their hearts’ content. Don’t mind the mess. Free exploration with open-ended art materials is wonderful for their creativity and imagination.

If you’ve never tried soap carving (or even if you have), it’s a great time to give it a try! You can make it as simple or as complex as you want depending on your kids’ ages.

On Only Passionate Curiosity, there are lots of ideas for using toilet paper tubes to make fun things from pirates to rocket ships.

If it’s spring or summer, build a ladybug house! This is a project that can be done either indoors or outdoors–though you will want to put your completed ladybug house outdoors in your garden or yard when it’s ready.

Sometimes crafty activities can be educational too! This article shares 10 Awesome Ways to Make a Cell Model. Some of the ideas are edible and some of them are crafty, but all of them are fun!

  • Make Some Rocket Bookmarks

Use the templates included in this article about making rocket bookmarks or create your own templates and make all kinds of bookmarks!

Origami is fun for all ages! It makes a fun indoor activity for kids, for a playdate, or even for a party! While it may not be considered an educational activity, it does require attention to detail, following instructions, and fine motor coordination, so I think it definitely should count as an arts & crafts activity but a (secretly) educational activity too.

5. Bake some sweet treats.

When it’s dreary outside, there’s nothing better than cookies fresh out of the oven. Baking with kids is a great way to spend a rainy day. And the one-on-one time in the kitchen with your kids can’t be beat. Bonus — it incorporates hands-on math and science. And it teaches kids important life skills too! 

Sometimes you can sneak in a math lesson as part of your baking activity, or you can do a fun math lesson such as this Counting Candies on Cookies Math Cards activity (in which you make M&M cookies and teach your children to graph the M&Ms by color) or this How to Make Math Fun and Tasty lesson that has to do with making cupcakes decorated like apple trees and includes lots of educational ideas to go with the recipe!

6. Set up an indoor obstacle course.

My kids are super-obsessed with The Floor Is Lava on Netflix. So much so that we got my 7-year-old the board game for Christmas. They love to break it out and turn our living room into an impromptu obstacle course. This is something you can do at home with your kids too.

And if you don’t have the board game, that’s okay. Just rearrange the furniture and tell your kids not to touch the lava — aka floor. This will help burn off all that extra energy and they’ll sleep so much better. Promise!

If you don’t watch the show or have the board game, it doesn’t matter! Use what you have and set up whatever kind of indoor obstacle course you want!

7. Try some new yoga poses.

When you’re stuck indoors, it’s important to get kids moving. Yoga is an awesome way to do that. Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube is a fun channel to check out.

But, since we’re talking about screen-free activities, here is a handy list of yoga poses your kids can try, sans video. Or you can buy a deck of yoga cards for added variety. 

This may be a habit you choose to keep up on a regular basis once you see the benefits. 

8. Go jump in some puddles.

Yep, this list is mainly indoor activities…because who wants to clean up a house full of mud? But, don’t discount letting your kids play in the rain. Jumping in puddles is so much fun for kids of any age (moms too!). 

Yes, you’ll need to mop and you’ll probably have an extra load of laundry or two, but it’ll be worth the experience. You’ll see.

9. Learn something together.

We parents want our children to know that learning doesn’t stop when we graduate from high school or college. Learning is a life-long endeavor!

Try some of these ideas and activities on those days when you’re stuck inside. I think you’ll enjoy learning together (and you’ll almost always win when you play Trivial Pursuit! Haha! ).

Got younger kids as well as teens? Try some of these ideas! (And be sure to let your older kids help your younger ones if possible! There’s no better way to remember something than to teach it to someone else.)

10. Or try some of these ideas!

Our sister site, Hip Homeschool Moms, features an article with 10 Things to Do with Kids When It’s Too Hot to Go Outside. The ideas in that article will also make great rainy day activities, so be sure to take a look and choose a few of the suggestions!

Bonus Ideas:

  • If you have young children who need something fun to do indoors or who need something to do while you homeschool your older children, try busy bags! These are perfect for rainy days or any time you need to keep little ones busy.
  • This article about How to Easily Banish Winter Wiggles was, admittedly, written as a suggestion for what to do when your children are stuck indoors during winter, but the ideas in the article will work perfectly for a rainy day too!

The Wrap-Up

It’s hard when the weather won’t cooperate and all we want to do is turn our kids loose outside. But, hopefully, this list of activities gives you a few ideas for keeping them busy and engaged the next time you’re stuck indoors because of rain.

Do you have rainy day activities to add to our list? 

Comment below and tell us what your favorite screen-free rainy day activities are. And be sure to share this post on social media!

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Amy Thetford is a freelance writer and blogger who homeschools her tribe of tiny humans while pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a published author. She is fueled by coffee and the desire to do ALL. THE. THINGS. She has the attention span of a squirrel, though she somehow manages to make it through each day with everyone fed and happy (well, mostly happy! Ha!) while striving to make every tomorrow better than the last. You can hear more of what she has to say over at Real Talk with Amy, where she blogs about all things motherhood.

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