The Best Rainy Day Activities for Kids

This recent question was posed on Quora.com – “What can you do with kids that does not involve the internet to keep them amused on a rainy day?” Great question! I mean, let’s face it, there’s not a lot worse than bored kids walking around like zombies, with iPads glued to their faces. It makes for a whiny, miserable day most times. Here are some tips on how to break through the monotony and find fun things to fill the day. The best part is most of these ideas are free or inexpensive rainy day activities for kids.

1Play Board Games

I loved playing board games growing up. It was one of the family activities I can remember where life was simple and happy. We played all the normal board games, Clue, Monopoly, Parcheesi and Sorry. A lot of card games were also played, including Rummy, Go Fish and Sheepshead (a game only Wisconsinites might know).

There are a ton of benefits to board games as well! First, if your children are like mine, they are craving your attention. Board games give them the ability to spend cherished time with you and socialize with you which builds self-esteem. Additionally, board games teach sharing, patience, strategy, gamesmanship and a ton of other important life skills. Right now, there are a ton of great board game choices to choose from – so grab a few and make sure you have them on hand for some rainy day kid activities.

2Go to the Movies

This is probably the most expensive option on the list, but let’s face it, there are times when you need a low-effort option. Maybe you’re not feeling well, maybe you’re lethargic or maybe there is a really good movie at the theatre. Either way, going to the movies is an easy move for rainy days. Get some popcorn, get some drinks, find your seat and sit back ready to be bombarded by audio and visual awesomeness. Everyone will have fun and there is something refreshing about just getting out of the house, even if it is to sit on your butt at the movies for a couple hours.

3Arts & Crafts

I would have never thought about doing arts and crafts before meeting my wife. In fact, I still cringe a little at the mess that will inevitably occur when we pull out crafts. However, it definitely gives the kids a great project to work on with their hands and teaches them fine motor skills. Plus, when the project is done, they have something that they can be proud to have made. Granted, it will likely end up in the trash before the end of the next year, but the joy arts and crafts elicit from my kids is unparalleled.

Additionally, if you are like me (and not my wife) you won’t have any arts and crafts in the house – so you can also spend some time out of the house visiting your local arts and crafts store to find a project. This gives your children the opportunity to take ownership of something they find on their own. The worst case scenario is you find a craft that your kid can make for your mother-in-law for her birthday. Win-win.

4Clean Up

This is not the most exciting option, but it is still a pretty good one. Let’s face it – you have kids – so your house is likely a mess. You could have cleaned up an hour ago only to find the little tornadoes have pulled every toy they own out of their bins and arranged them all over the floor. For you to step on. It’s time to get them involved in the chores! Most kids are able to pick up their toys and put them away. As they get older, you can have them sweep, mop, vacuum, dust, clean windows or, like my father did, have them wash out the toilets and bathtub.

But, let’s be honest, cleaning is a life skill that everyone needs to learn. While I was pledging my fraternity, we had to clean every Friday and Sunday (before the parties and after them) and it stunk. However, I did learn how to clean well and clean fast. It is something that has stuck with me for a long time. Plus, there is something purifying when you are done cleaning and look around at a job well done. I’m not sure that there is any other idea on this list that provides that level of satisfaction.

5Use Your Imagination

As a kid, this was my favorite activity and it may be one of my kid’s favorite activities today. Whether you are fighting villains, monsters or dragons, having your kids use their imagination is a great way to handle rainy day activities for kids without devices. Also, it is a great way to enhance a child’s capacity for cognitive flexibility and creativity, according to this Psychology Today article.

“Russ, for example, in longitudinal  studies, found that early imaginative play was associated with increased creative performance years later (Russ, 2004; Russ, & Fiorelli,  2010).”

Above all other rainy day activities, using your imagination might be the best bonding experience I get to have with my children. We have to learn to create ideas together and share how those ideas will play out. Everyone has to both be on the same page and flexible enough to make the game continue without a sibling getting upset and stomping away mad. Often, when playing something like Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, we get to roughhouse a little, which is beneficial for children. I highly recommend having everyone use their imaginations to think up worlds and adventures to explore in the confines of your house on a rainy day.

6Bake Cookies

Baking cookies may not seem entirely masculine to some readers. Although, I don’t know too many dads that will turn down fresh baked cookies. If nothing else, baking is rewarding just for the end product. However, baking can be more fun than just eating the warm gooey cookies fresh out of the oven. First, kids generally can’t get too hurt baking. Unlike cooking dinner, baking doesn’t require using a knife or a hot stove. Generally, we are talking about measuring flour, sugar and milk, cracking a few eggs, and doing some stirring. Again, the act of creation is special for a child. Empowering them to know that they can do things like make cookies gives them confidence. Also, you will probably have a lot of fun making a big mess and cleaning up – which teaches kids fun and responsibility need to be balanced. Finally, did I mention how good it is to eat the cookies?

7Visit the Library or Bookstore

As a kid in the 80’s, I loved the local library. I could spend hours finding obscure topics to read, buried in long shelves of books, spending hours in the bookstore just perusing all the options and titles before I find something that really called out to me. I think it is incredible to share those same experiences with my kids. Sharing my love of books, reading and stories with them is priceless as both time together and towards their development into adulthood.

I have learned a lot from reading and would say that it is one of the top activities that has helped me to succeed in life. Helping your children to love books gives them a platform to explore what is important to them. School, alone, should not be the beginning and end of education. Libraries provide endless possibilities for your kids to explore anything they want to learn about. I truly believe all kids are born with the desire to learn and explore the world around them. A rainy day is the perfect day to let them continue that exploration at the library or bookstore.

8Visit a Museum

When I think of Museums, I usually think of the big history or art museums in neighboring cities. However, there is almost always some kind of museum in or near every town in America.  For example, there is the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, the Princeton University Art Museum in Princeton, New Jersey, the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York or the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. No matter where you are in America, there is likely a museum within driving distance. You may find that your kids are more interested in the museum than you would think!

9Make a Movie at Home

If your kids are anything like mine, their source of entertainment has changed dramatically from when we were kids. My children watch YouTube channels and have no problem talking into a phone or video camera. I find it amazing how comfortable they are recording themselves while I am still fairly intimidated; and, this is coming from someone who did theatre and talks in front of crowds often. Why not make the best of it?

Recruit your kids to be movie stars and put on a show. This project, depending on how detailed you want to get, could take a few hours or a few days. First, you need to write a script, or at least have a few ideas of a storyline. Next, make sure you have costumes and at least a semblance of scenery. Finally, lights, camera, action – it’s time to start filming! Imagine your kids delight as they get to watch themselves act out a movie over and over again. You might even be good enough to be the next YouTube sensation!

10Have a Dance Party

“Alexa! Play dance music.” Could it be an easier than that? I’m not sure about your kids, but mine love to dance. We can easily kill 30 minutes to an hour just playing songs I know they love and watching them dance and laugh. Although, the laughing usually starts happening when I get onto the dance floor and bust a move. Not only will they have fun, but they will be active. Dancing can tire out pretty much anyone, and your kids won’t stand a chance. There is nothing better in the world than kids that are easy to put to bed or pass out on their own.

11Go Outside in the Rain

Finally, you could just go outside in the rain. I know this is not everyone’s idea of a good time. In fact, I’m sure my wife wouldn’t even allow me to pull this off. But, seriously, what’s the harm? The kids will love it, they will get tired out and it’s something that they rarely, if ever, get to do. As long as they are healthy and it isn’t freezing or flooding outside, a little rain and mud won’t hurt them. Put on some clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and their boots and send them out into the rain to explore and have fun. In fact, I just might have to convince my wife of this the next time it rains. Maybe she can get a pedicure while I watch the kids and clean up after them.

What are your rainy day activity ideas?

Do you like the list? If so, please let me know by commenting below. If you think I missed something – please let me know also! As a dad, I am always looking for new and exciting rainy day activities for me and the kids. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter, so you can stay up to date with all our newest articles and blog posts.