Friday, April 25, 2014

5 Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers {Volume One}

With spring comes many rainy days around these parts. That means we need to get creative on the days we stay inside. Those of you who care for young children during the day will understand this. Today I will be sharing the first "volume" of activities that I have done with my own little ones on days we played indoors. I will be sharing later volumes in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned! (And even if you don't have young might just enjoy seeing some personal pics of mine throughout these posts!)

Most of these would be appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers (or even younger or older) depending on your child's developmental stage. Sometimes I try things with my kids that work out great, and others not so much. But that is's still fun to try. Some of these activities are obvious ones, that my kids love, and hopefully, others will get your creative wheels turning for your own creative play.

1. Finger Painting
Finger painting is an obvious rainy day activity for young kids. Mine love it and would do it every day if I let them. My daughter Hazel is quite the talented artist. She would paint everything in site, and if I am not paying attention, covers herself with it! But she sure has fun...
I quickly discovered that things would be different with my son, Owen, who loves to put everything in his mouth. I had to get creative with allowing him to express himself artistically. 
I discovered that I could make my own finger paints for him by combining equal parts flour and water and then adding small drops of food coloring. I often make 2-4 colors and have fun coming up with different hues. These paintings hold up well too. I have kept some in storage for several months and they still look as good as the day he created them.
On a side note, I always write my kids' names and the date (or simply their age) on their works of art to save for the future. I don't save every piece of artwork (that would be insane!), but I do keep ones that I want to look back on and remember. I have Hazel's first drawing hanging in our hallway, and it warms my heart every time I see it.

2. "Let's Be Pirates"
One day Hazel said to me, "Let's be pirates!" I didn't even know she knew much about pirates, but I guess watching an episode or two of Jake and the Neverland Pirates got her hooked (no pun intended!). So what did we do that day?
We made ourselves into pirates, of course! I found some vintage scarves in the dress up basket, and voila. Pirates we were. And yes, I got in on the fun too :)
We turned the living room furniture into our "ship" that we sailed away on. 
We were on the lookout for Peter Pan and as Hazel calls them, "Golden Blooms." I love my little pirate girl.
If your own kids aren't into the whole pirate thing, you can easily find other themes that they love and build a play activity around that. I know that it can be a lot of work putting all the furniture and props back where they belong, but my daughter still remembers the day that we played this. When you surprise your kids by getting "all in" with their game, it can create lasting memories.

3. Sensory Play
Another great activity on a day spent indoors is creative sensory play. Hazel has always loved Play-Doh and does really well with it, but as I mentioned earlier, Owen puts everything in his mouth. When they were a bit younger, I found a way that he could have some fun experimenting, while Hazel had her fun with Play-Doh.
Some oatmeal and a little bit of water! I also threw in some white sprinkles just for fun. Even Hazel wanted in on this.
There are so many possibilities for sensory bins that even babies can have fun with. If you do a search on Pinterest you will find loads of ideas. Since both of mine have gotten older, the types of items have broadened.
The most recent included seashells, glass beads and chess pieces (although I still didn't let Owen have any smaller pieces, since he still puts lots of things in his mouth.)

4. Cooking Together
I started letting my daughter help me with cooking from a very early age. She loves pouring the measuring cups of flour, sugar, etc. into the mixing bowl. I always try to give her some fun things to use on her own as well, so I can get the actual cooking/baking done. We have a little rolling pin, and she often brings her own play cookware with her. 
It is really just about giving your child the validation that they can do it and that you want their help. It can get messy, but again, this special time together will creating a lasting bond. My little guy Owen "helps" here and there, but will likely be right by my side in the coming months (and years ahead!) just like his sister.

5. Play Grocery Store
The last rainy day activity for this round is to create a play grocery store. I actually have just as much fun doing this as they do I think (funny though...because going to the actual grocery store is worse than the dentist for me).

You don't need any fancy toys either. One time, I cleared out our toy shelf and filled it with different varieties of foods/store items. I filled them with empty boxes from the recycling or unopened packages along with some play food. I even added a little "baby" section with diapers and bottles we had on hand.
We made our own play money with green construction paper and markers.
Hazel and I took turns shopping and playing cashier. When she is the cashier each item costs, "Sixty dollars," or "One dollar." Gotta love playing with kids!

I hope you enjoyed these and will come back for more!

Linking up with:
Whatever Goes Wednesday

Till next time...
~Alice W.