10 Activities for Rainy Days
By Carolyn Ross Tomlin

“Rain, rain, go away, little children want to play.”

It’s raining and activities to do with the children are limited or are they? Don’t allow those early summer showers hinder learning. Instead, weave these rainy day activities into teachable moments throughout the day. The possibilities are endless!

Indoor Rainy Day Activities
Think creatively, plan ahead, and never allow bad weather to keep your children from having an enjoyable day. If rain keeps you and your children indoors, try the following activities.

1.       Dress-up Trunk. Children love to play dress-up, and a rainy day is the perfect opportunity to pretend. Collect an assortment of male and female clothing, hats, shoes, handbags, and other props and put them in a “rainy day trunk.” When rain forces you inside, pull out the trunk and put on a play. Change the contents often to encourage different types of creative play.


2.       Broom Ball. Gross motor activity, even on rainy days, reduces tension. Broom ball is a fun game to use with small groups of children for which the object of the game is to sweep a ball into a box. To set up a game, clear an open space in the classroom and provide child-size brooms, a ball, and a large box – the size and placement of the box will depend upon the developmental level of your children. Give each child an opportunity to “sweep” the ball into the box.


3.       Clothespin Drop. Develop hand-eye coordination with a simple game that involves dropping clothespins into the neck of a plastic gallon jug. Younger preschoolers may need to have a larger opening cut in the jug. Tip: Placing a few pebbles in the bottom of the jug will keep the container upright.


4.       Color My World. Using a clean medicine dropper and colored water (made with food coloring), drop small amounts of water on white or pastel-colored construction paper. Allow the colors to fade together. Talks about the designs created by the children using water and display the artwork in the classroom.


5.       Rain Dance. Play a recording of classical music and encourage children to move to the music. Challenge them to become raindrops falling, tree limbs blowing, grass bending, or flowers lifting their heads to welcome the rain. Model the movements by participating in the fun yourself.


Outdoor Rainy Day Activities
There’s something about the combination of a soft, summer rain and children that can turn a cloudy day into a day full of sunshine. Raincoats, boots, and small umbrellas will keep the children dry as they venture outside for these fun and exciting activities.


1.       Umbrella Parade. Lift your umbrella high and march down the sidewalk for a rainy day parade. Sing favorite songs as you walk.


2.       Chart the Rain. Collect rainwater in a plastic container with straight sides. Use a ruler and measure the amount. Chart the amount on a calendar. How much rainfall did we have today? This week? This month?


3.       Here’s My Community. A damp, paved area makes a good chalkboard after a light rain. Supply large pieces of colored chalk for a classroom project. Encourage each child to draw her house or familiar neighborhood buildings. When finished, you have a beautiful community mural.


4.       Here Come the Ducks. Before going outdoors, read Make Way for Ducklings (1942) by Robert McCloskey. Say, “Let’s pretend to be ducklings. Can you show me how a duck walks?” Use raincoats and umbrellas if the rain is still falling. Ask children to illustrate their play when they return indoors.


5.       Rainy Day Code. Make a natural sign language by collecting things that are wet, such as a leaf, twig, rock, blade of grass, etc. Assign an action to each object. For example, a leaf could mean to hop one time, a twig means to clap your hands. Arrange the objects in a pattern with the difficulty related to the child’s developmental age. Have the children “write and perform” the code.


Carolyn R. Tomlin is a former professor of early childhood education at Union University.

Bennett, S. & Bennett, R. (1993). 365 outdoor activities you can do with your child. Holbrook, MA: Bob Adams Publishers.