I know well how hard it is for children and parents to be stuck in on a rainy day. Here are 14 creative, yet simple activities to occupy children of all ages, even babies, which all double up as great learning opportunities for your children, too.
I hope these activities inspire you and turn what could be a miserable day stuck inside into a fun one instead!
Kids love squeezing lemons, cracking eggs, stirring, pouring and of course, eating. Cooking is great for helping kids develop their fine motor skills, co-ordination, plus a great opportunity for children to learn about different foods.
Cooking does not need to be elaborate. Your kids could make simple pizzas using pizza bases, tomato puree, cheese and cans of sweetcorn, pineapple, tuna or any other toppings.
Scrambled egg is also an easy dish to do with kids. And if you fancy making pancakes please see my Simple Pancake Recipe
If your children are very young they can have a great time just buttering bread. Bread decorating with food colouring is also great fun! Your child simply paints or drips food colouring on bread to make patterns, then it just needs to be toasted and spread with butter or margarine before eating.
2) Growing cress!
My kids still love growing cress and it is such a simple activity to do. All you need is some cress seeds which you can buy from garden shops or the supermarket, a container, cotton wool or kitchen towel and some water. Plus, cress grows very quickly so your children can see results fast!
3) Making musical instruments
Elastic bands, empty plastic bottles, tin foil, plastic tubs with lids and dried pasta and rice are just some of the everyday items you could use to make music! For example, empty plastic bottles can be filled with dried rice to make simple rattles for babies and children and elastic bands can be used to make ‘twanging’ sounds.
4) Make your own Jigsaw Puzzles
Jigsaws are a great learning activity for children of all ages and also encourage fine motor skills. You and your child can make your own custom-made jigsaw puzzles! Simply cut up a photo for your child to piece back together or stick a large picture from a magazine onto a piece of card and then cut up into pieces. You can make the puzzle as hard or as easy according to your child’s age and stage.
Give children some paper and crayons and they will be happy. It is also important for small children to practise holding a crayon/pencil/pen correctly in order to learn to write when they are older. My daughter has always enjoyed drawing, even when she was little.
Children of all ages LOVE to dress-up! Dressing-up is not only fun but a good opportunity for kids to learn through role play. Dressing up clothes do not need to be elaborate. Some old clothes of yours will suffice. Hats, scarves and spectacles will always be a hit! Even small children love sunglasses and scarves to play peek-a-boo!
7) Building a den
Den-building is a great activity for kids of all ages to enjoy doing on a rainy day and will hopefully keep them occupied for hours! All your need is blankets, sheets, a table or chairs, plus some clothes pegs and off you go.
8) Make a scrap-book
I have made lots of scrap-books for my kids. I have been making ‘Memory Scrapbooks’ for my kids since they were little and include artwork, certificates, photos of interesting things, party invitations, pictures of things that they have recently learned about and postcards he had received.
When my little boy was little and was going through a ‘train phase’, I made a ‘Train Scrapbook’ with him which he enjoyed. I also made an alphabet scrapbook with my children before they started school, with a page for each letter of the alphabet and animals and objects starting with each letter, with the aim of teaching them phonics.
9) Dancing to music
An easy and non-messy activity for children of all ages. Even young children who are not yet walking can enjoy music. My kids love dancing and love nothing more than me putting some music and dancing around with them!
A bit more messy than drawing but painting or sticking should keep children occupied for a while. It is a good opportunity to teach small children their colours and learn to think creatively. Pieces of cut-up old Christmas cards, bits of coloured paper and tissue paper are perfect.
You don’t have to use paint brushes to paint, either, some cut-up pieces of sponge or cloth will keep children happy, or even better your child’s hands for hand printing! Paper plates are also fun to use in place of paper. And of course glitter is always a favourite (though your floors may well still be sparkly in a few days time!).
11) Playing shops
This is an easy Items for your child’s ‘shop’ could be anything in your house including fruit, books and toys. If your child is old enough and not likely to put them in her mouth you could use some real/pretend coins to ‘buy’ items with and/or you could also make some paper money, e.g. £5 and £10 notes. Or, your child could even design their own bank cards!
If you have scales you could weigh ingredients too. You will also need a bag or basket to take your buys home with, plus tissue paper is great if you have it so that items can also be wrapped up!
12) Read your child a book
I am an avid reader and I believe this is because my parents always read to me when I was little. Because of this, I have always bought books for my children and read to them at every opportunity in the hope that they will also grow up to love books.
13) Play Dough
Play dough is very good in helping children perfect their fine motor skills and of course, children of all ages love to get stuck in and hands-on and messy! You can even make your own play dough.
14) Hide and Seek
Another non-mess yet creative activity and one that kids love. And they will enjoy this activity even more with you playing it with them!