Sometimes weather and other factors get in the way of your fun plans. Keep the kids happy with some creative new activities even when things get canceled or you're stuck in the house.
Take away those longing stares out the rain-stained window and turn them into cheers with this fun raindrop race. If you've got access to a window and some water, you can play. One child can do this activity alone or up to three kids can race depending on your window size. This activity works well for kids ages 3 to 6.
What You'll Need
- Two dry erase markers, one green and one red (any color will do if these aren't available)
- One window kids can be at eye level with, either standing or on a chair
- An adult draws a horizontal line across the windowpane using the green dry erase marker for the starting line. Make the line about 4 to 6 inches from the top of the window pane. The dry erase marker will wipe off the window with a tissue or paper towel when done.
- The adult draws another identical line in red about 5 inches below the first to use as the finish line. If the rain is falling fast and hard, you can make the finish line farther down, but typically the water droplets will be slow moving.
- To start the race, the adult shouts "Go!" and each participant points to a raindrop above the starting line. This is their raindrop racer.
- Watch each raindrop racer run down the window to the finish line
- The first to cross the finish line wins.
If it's not raining, you can spray the outside of the window with a hose or spray bottle to create droplets. For added difficulty, make the finish line farther from the starting line. If you've got preschoolers, you can trust to follow directions with markers, have them trace the path of their raindrop racer as it rolls down the window.
Hide and Seek Go Fish
Every little kid can play hide and seek, but this tried and true game is more fun when you add in a timed racing element and a little mystery. If you don't have a deck of Go Fish cards, you can use any set of cards that includes matching pairs. Since they're usually loaded with energy, toddlers will love the active element of getting up to run around during gameplay. You only need two players, but up to five people can play. This activity can work well for kids ages 3 to 8.
What You'll Need
- A deck of Go Fish cards
- Timer (optional, you can count aloud slowly)
- Shuffle the cards and deal five to each player.
- The dealer asks all other players to close their eyes. If little ones aren't able to keep their eyes shut, use blindfolds.
- Then the dealer places the remaining cards in individual "hiding places" around the room. Hiding places can be cards in plain view or tucked into easy spaces.
- After all the cards are hidden, players may open their eyes and gameplay begins.
- Play according to regular Go Fish rules. When a player is instructed to "go fish," she has 30 seconds to get up and find a card hidden by the dealer.
- Time starts when the player leaves her seat and ends when she sits back in her spot.
- If a player does not find a card in the allotted time, she won't get a card for that round.
- Gameplay continues until one person gets rid of all her cards by creating matches. This person is the winner.
You can adapt this activity to any card game where there is a "draw" pile by hiding those cards around the room. When playing with older kids, try to hide the cards in more difficult spots. Take turns each round letting kids be the dealer.
Guess Who Stuffed Animals
This two-player activity, for kids ages 5 to 9, is inspired by the classic kid's game, Guess Who. The goal is to figure out which toy your opponent chose using only questions about the characteristics of the toy. Take the activity a step further and start by sorting toys into different categories based on size, shape, color or other physical characteristics. Then, follow the steps below.
What You'll Need
- Five stuffed animals (or toys); they should all have different physical characteristics
- Blank paper
- Two sets of crayons
- Place all the stuffed animals in a straight, side-by-side line where everyone can see them.
- Give each player a piece of paper and set of crayons.
- Instruct each player to choose one animal. Once a player has his animal in mind, he can find a private place and draw a picture of it using the correct color.
- When the drawings are complete, each player should fold her drawing up and go back to the playing area. Players should not see each other's drawings.
- Players take turns asking and answering yes or no questions about the stuffed animals to help deduce which animal the other player selected. For example, you might say "Is your toy brown?" If your opponent answers "no" you would know the brown stuffed animals are not the one they chose.
- Each player may ask one question per turn. If a player believes he knows the answer, he can make a guess on his turn instead of asking a question.
- The player who guesses his opponent's chosen animal first is the winner. Use the drawings to prove your choices at the end of each round.
If you have preparation time, make a checklist for the activity in a word processing program. Take a picture of each toy and place the images in a horizontal line across the top of the paper. Copy and paste the entire line several times so you can use one sheet of paper for several rounds. Players will be able to cross off animals as questions are answered making it easier to remember the clues.
Kids will have a blast laughing about the wacky creations they build when blindfolded. Anywhere from one to ten kids can participate depending on how many blocks you have. This will work best with children ages 6 to 10.
What You'll Need
- Building blocks of any kind (Legos, wooden blocks, Mega Blocks, etc.)
- A blindfold (scarves work well) for each participant
- Small container for each player (larger blocks will need larger containers)
- The adult or one child will be designated as the judge. The judge should not be able to see the participants during the activity.
- All players are now blindfolded then handed a container full of blocks.
- On "Go" each kid has five minutes to build something out of their blocks. You can leave the design up to them or give a theme like vehicles, animals or buildings.
- When time is up, all players move away from the building area.
- The judge is then brought into the building area to choose a winning design. Judging criteria includes creativity, adherence to theme, difficulty and use of the most blocks possible.
- The judge announces the winner and why it was chosen.
- The winning designer becomes the judge for the next round.
Add difficulty to the activity by mixing different blocks in each container. Include design themes or change judging criteria based on your own parameters for a customized activity.
Drawing on windows with dry erase markers is fun for kids because it feels like breaking the rules. Supervise the activity and explain these types of drawings should only be done with adult permission. This can be a independent activity or involve up to three kids depending on window size. Use for kids ages 5 and up.
What You'll Need
- Dry erase markers
- Paper towels
- A window with water droplets on the outside for each participant
- Each child needs to use the dry erase markers to connect the raindrop dots on the window in a way that forms a recognizable picture.
- Once drawings are complete, an adult or older child can try to guess what each image is.
If you don't have a window with water droplets on it, you can mark the window up with random dots in black dry erase marker or spray the outside with a spray bottle.
Pass the Drawing
Take the classic activity of Telephone, where each person shares an interpretation of what the last person whispered, to the next level with Pass the Drawing. You'll need planning time to make the game, but kids can help with all preparations. The activity works best with at least three kids, ages 8 and up.
What You'll Need
- One sheet of paper for each participant
- One pencil for each participant
- One portable, hard surface for each kid (like a clipboard)
- Pictures clipped from magazines and newspapers - select individual words like "celebrate"
- Words clipped from magazines and newspapers - select images of a single thing like a pineapple
- Place all the images upside-down in one pile and the words upside-down in a separate pile within reach of all children.
- Give each kid a hard surface with a sheet of paper and a pencil.
- Instruct kids to use horizontal lines to separate their paper into four equal sections, one on top of the other.
- Each child picks a picture from the image pile and a word from the word pile, taking care not to let others see what they got.
- On "Start" kids draw a picture of their phrases in the top section of their papers. For example, a child who gets "celebrate" and a picture of a bunny might draw a rabbit with balloons.
- When everyone finishes drawing, each kid passes her paper to the left.
- Each child now makes a guess (in the second section from the top of the paper) about what she thinks the picture is supposed to be. A guess should only include two words.
- Once everyone makes a guess, each kid folds the top section of the paper backward so it can't be seen. (You should not see the top picture, you will see the phrase the second person guessed.) Hand back all papers with the blank side up.
- In the third row, kids should draw a picture of the phrase they can see from the last person. When done, they fold the second row backward so it can't be seen.
- Each child keeps this paper and takes a turn showing their drawing to the group to see if the others can guess the original phrase in the top row of the paper.
During the activity there is no talking and drawings cannot include words or numbers, but symbols are allowed. Increase difficulty by choosing more difficult images and words, decrease difficulty by selecting easy common words.
This classic mystery activity only requires a keen eye and a small space. When one object is removed from the room, others must remember how the room looked before and figure out which item was stolen. Groups of two to four are ideal because of the small quarters. This activity works well with ages 6 and up.
What You'll Need
- A small room or area
- Designate one person as the Thief. All other participants are Detectives.
- All participants start in the chosen room and have two minutes to take a look around and memorize the items in the room.
- The Detectives leave the room and the Thief has two minutes to take any one item. The Thief leaves the room and hides the stolen item in another area or behind his back.
- The Detectives enter the room altogether and try to guess which item was stolen. If a Detective has a guess, he goes to the Thief and says his guess. The Thief tells the Detective if he is right or wrong.
- If he is wrong, the Detective can re-enter the original room and keep looking.
- If he is right, the round is over and that Detective becomes the next Thief.
- Repeat the steps
Fantasy Show and Tell
Older kids might not be excited about show and tell, but if there's an added element of mystery and competition they might be engaged. You'll need at least two people to complete this activity, and it's ideal for kids, ages 8 and up.
What You'll Need
- Random toys and objects from around the house
- Each child picks a toy or object as their show and tell item.
- Kids then take about five minutes to imagine a specific person who would own that item. For example, if your item is a broom you might imagine a witch owned it or a janitor from school.
- When the planning time is up, kids gather in one area and take turns presenting their items.
- During a presentation, a child can use three sentences to describe the person they imagined own the object.
- Kids cannot use the name of the object or any word containing the person's name in their description.
- At the end of each presentation, the rest of the group shouts out guesses about who the imaginary person is.
- The person who guesses correctly presents next. If no one guesses correctly the presenter chooses someone to go next.
- Continue like this until everyone presents.
Mixed Bag Science
Cooking and science often go hand-in-hand. Give kids, ages 10 and up, free reign of the kitchen as they try to turn food into mini science experiments. Groups of two to six kids can work individually or in teams.
What You'll Need
- Assorted candy and baking ingredients - chocolate chips, water, milk, eggs, sugar, lollipops, taffy candies, sprinkles, etc.
- Access to water, heating sources and cooling sources
- Bowls and utensils
- Assign each participant three ingredients.
- Ask each child to manipulate their ingredients in any way they want to make the ingredient take on a new form. For example, a child could melt a lollipop to make it liquid instead of solid. In the end, the food item must look different from it did in the beginning.
- On "Start" set the timer for five minutes.
- When time is up, find out who was able to change the form of all their ingredients.
Kids don't need to change the whole ingredient, one small piece is fine if necessary. For example, instead of trying to melt a whole lollipop a kid can chip off a chunk of the candy and melt that. The more complex your ingredient choices, the more difficult the activity.
Extend the Fun
When kids feel trapped indoors, one day can feel like a week. Keep them busy and excited by alternating between games, activities and crafts. Indoor games for kids include everything from card and board games to obstacle courses and relay races. If your home game collection is seriously lacking, there are plenty of free, printable games you can access on the computer like word searches and memory games. Encourage creativity and independence when you let children play online games like those found on websites for popular children's TV channels.
Use common household items for spur-of-the-moment crafts or rely on classic easy crafts, like origami and salt dough creations.
- Wire hangers get a makeover with your help in these coat hanger crafts. Choose from wearable wings, a mobile or a wreath.
- Follow a few simple instructions to make pipe cleaner crafts like a crown, spider or springy finger puppet.
- Edible food crafts like a fruit display or edible stained glass satisfy boredom and hunger using ingredients you likely have on hand.
- Paper crafts are cheap and easy. All you'll need are some paper, scissors, crayons or markers, and tape or glue to make fun paper projects like a place mat, handprint wreath or paper doll chain.
Make the Most of Your Day
Unexpected interruptions can put a damper on any kid's day. Help your children rediscover the fun in their day with novel, unique indoor activities. You never know, these might become your kids' new favorite activities whether it's rainy or not.