By Keri Wilmot, The Genius of Play Expert
When spring arrives, the sun shines longer, the flowers are in bloom and thankfully the kids are finally able to get a chance to spend some time outside riding their bikes, improving their motor skills on the playground and chasing after bubbles. But spring also brings a lot of unpredictable weather, which leads to a lot of time spent inside, sometimes even for several days at a time waiting for the dreaded rain to go away.
Play is a great way to combat the rainy day blues! Playtime can happen anytime and anywhere, and has a multitude of benefits for children. The Genius of Play is on a mission to raise awareness of play’s vital role in child development, and their website is a great resource full of play ideas and expert tips on how to make play an important part of a child’s day.
If you are stuck indoors during the rainy season, here are some ways to entertain everyone, while minimizing access to technology but offering lots of fun educational play opportunities!
1. Sensory Play
Kids love to play with sensory textures, and now there are so many kinds to choose from, like paints, slime, sand, play dirt and foam. While you can keep play open-ended, letting kids play any way they like, also consider gathering up some of their favorite action figures, die cast cars and blind bag character toys and letting them use them in the textures. Playing with sensory textures helps to improve a child’s fine motor skills, but they are excellent for expanding upon their imagination as well. Many sensory items have been designed to reduce stickiness and messiness, which keeps parents happy and kids playing longer, so clear away an open space at the table and get creating!
Rainy days are great for gaming. Don’t overlook classic board games and card games like Checkers, Dominoes or Hearts because these fun activities improve on a child’s ability to take turns while they learn how to use strategy to win. But winning and losing for some kids can be difficult to handle, and refereeing game play is not always fun for parents. Definitely consider adding a few silly party games to the closet. These games unite children of varying skill and age levels, and seeing children and adults share in uncontrollable laughter will definitely help pass the time on a rainy day!
3. Construction Toys
Kids love to create vehicles, structures, scenes and figures by using construction toys. While many prefer to follow the step-by-step directions to build the item in the box, others will build freely, using their imagination. There is no right or wrong way to build with construction toys. Designing, creating and playing with construction toys offers the challenge of solving problems and playing imaginatively, while improving visual spatial skills and fine motor strength, too.
4. Create an Obstacle Course
Building core muscle skills and developing balance does not always need to happen outside on the playground swinging from monkey bars or climbing up ladders. On rainy days, kids still need to burn off extra energy, and designing a safe obstacle course in the house might do the trick. There are so many activities to include, many do not even require toys at all! Pick 3-5 exercises, like pretending to jump like a frog, army crawling under the table or log rolling from one side of the living room to another and then doing five sit-ups. Practice it over and over again for 5-10 minutes, then get to work designing a new one!
5. STEM Toys and Activities
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) toys and games can help kids get interested in these important subjects, which can encourage them to later consider advanced careers in these fields. With busy schedules, finding the time to dedicate to lengthier projects, science experiments and learning to code is not easy. So, when the outdoor activities are cancelled, rainy days can give kids the opportunity to immerse themselves in these important educational experiences. Why not safely experiment with electricity through snap circuits, use science kits to erupt a volcano or build a robot and code it to guard the bedroom? Definitely use a rainy day to take advantage of fun educational activities the kids can play with and learn a lot from in the process.
Just like we need water for those beautiful flowers to grow outside, indoor play on rainy days offers so many new educational opportunities to help our little ones flourish, too!