Well folks, I am going to be brave and say it: spring is officially here! I hope we don’t get an insane blizzard now that I have said it out loud (I’m sorry if we do!), but I really don’t think we will. I don’t know about you, but I can feel spring in the air, which makes me incredibly happy (don’t get me wrong, I like winter but enough already!)! With the spring weather, though, always comes lots of rain, and even though we still go outside with the kids when it is raining, we typically head out for shorter periods of time if the weather is nasty. So, on those days, I need to get creative with keeping the littles occupied indoors. Here are a few of my favourite indoor activity ideas:
I don’t know about you guys, but sensory activities are always a BIG hit with my little ones! They LOVE getting their hands dirty. Here are a few great ideas for you to try:
Colored Oats: Oats are great for sensory activities because they are very versatile and edible (this is a major win if you have a little one that still puts everything in his/her mouth!). Plus, they are super easy to color – just mix dry oats together with your food coloring of choice and set out on parchment paper to dry (see more detailed instructions here)! I added a small amount of vegetable oil as well to help the color spread more evenly across the oats. Here they are drying:
I left ours out overnight to make sure they would be fully dry but I think these would be ready in a couple of hours if you put them in the sunshine to dry. Since both my kids love scooping and dumping, I set the oats up on a large drop “cloth” (a clear shower curtain works great!) and let the kids enjoy:
WARNING: It does not matter what you do, this stuff is going to get EVERYWHERE. There really is no point in trying to contain it. So, sit back and let the kiddos go wild. Heck, maybe even pour yourself a cup of HOT coffee and enjoy it! 😋 The mess can be cleaned up later.
Dinosaur Fossils: This activity was so much fun! The kids loved it and it took zero prep time, so that’s a win-win in my books! We simply took a bunch of different colors of play dough, rolled them all out and then “stamped” several different small plastic dinosaurs into them to make prints (or “fossils”). My son especially enjoyed pulling the figures out of the play dough and examining the “fossils” they left behind. My dinosaur knowledge is rather limited, so we chose the “easy” ones I knew the names of and I was able to turn this simple sensory activity into a learning opportunity as well by telling them a few things about the different dinosaurs. If you don’t mind a little mess, I think this could be even more fun if you sprinkled flour or something similar on top of the “fossils” and let your little ones brush them off with a soft paint brush! Here are a few pictures:
Homemade Moon Sand/Play Dough/Etc.: There are loads of great recipes out there for moon sand and similar items. I found this great recipe when I was looking around for science activities to do with my little ones around St. Patrick’s Day. It was the perfect recipe because my son got to conduct his own experiment while we made it (something he enjoys very much these days!) and then get his hands dirty in it afterwards! Here are a couple pictures:
Colored Rice: Another simple and low prep sensory activity for little ones is colored rice. I bought one of those giant Costco sized bags of rice way back when so I could easily whip up different colored rice bins whenever I needed an easy, last-minute idea. I simply pour a bunch of rice in a large bowl, mix in my food coloring of choice and a bit of vegetable oil, then set out to air dry for a few hours. Here is the sensory bin I made for Easter this year:
Baking: Baking can fall under a number of different headings included in this post, but I ultimately decided to list it under “Sensory Activities” because it tends to be a largely sensory experience for my littles. Baking with my kids generally looks like this: I take a few ingredients out of the cupboards while we are in the kitchen and my kids immediately ask to help (well, my son at least asks, my daughter typically just points and shouts at me!). We start off with the kids helping me measure and pour some of the ingredients and then after about 10 minutes the kids typically “tap out” of the strict baking portion in favour of eating the ingredients (blueberries and chocolate chips are favourites!) and my son asking if they can bring his dinky cars in yet. What follows is often very messy, and always fun: I pour some flour (or “snow”) out for them to drive dinky cars through and once the cars are a complete mess, they give them a “car wash” (another sensory activity, might I add!). Even though this activity is incredibly messy, the kids have so much fun doing it (and I get to do some baking), so it is totally worth it! Check it out:
If you are looking for some more sensory bin activities, check out this great post put together by My Bored Toddler!
Crafts are such a great way to pass the time indoors. One of my favourite things about crafts is the range of activities you can do, from no prep, simple crafts (ex: grab some paint and paper and let the kids have fun coming up with their own creations!) to lots of prep, elaborate crafts. Although it is admittedly much easier to to do the no prep activities, we try to hit both ends of the spectrum, and everything in between, as often as possible to keep things interesting. Here are a few ideas that require some prep time, but not too much:
Puffy Paint: Puffy paint is super fun and actually quite easy to make. It also requires very little prep time, which is great! Check out a great recipe for puffy paint here. Whip some up and let your kids have fun creating! We used this paint for some fun St. Patrick’s Day clovers:
Nature Collages: Nature collages are so much fun and they are a great learning opportunity for kiddos too! They do involve some outdoor time, so I suppose this isn’t truly an “indoor activity” but if you plan ahead, you can collect your materials on a nice day and take them out to assemble your collages on a rainy day! To make the collages, take some time the next time you are outdoors with your little ones to collect some collage materials – anything that can be flattened (leaves, flowers, etc.) works great. This is a great opportunity to teach your kids about the various different trees, leaves, plants, etc. that grow in your area. Once you have all your nature materials collected, you will need the following to complete the collages: (a) some crayons (small broken up ones work great), chopped into small pieces; (b) two even-sized pieces of wax paper, in whatever size you want your collage to be; and (c) an iron. Lay a piece of wax paper out for your child to place their leafs, flowers, etc. out on and then give them the crayon pieces to sprinkle on top (make sure they are evenly distributed). Once they are done assembling, place the second piece of wax paper overtop and run the iron (keep it low) over the wax paper to melt the crayon pieces, adding some pops of color and making the wax paper pieces adhere to one another. Then hang for all to enjoy! These look especially pretty in windows, like ours here:
Footprint/Handprint Crafts: I love footprint and handprint crafts because they are super simple and create a great keepsake! I try to make either a footprint or handprint craft with the kids for each season (and if not for the season, then for one of the holidays during that season). We have made Christmas footprint tree plates, footprint bunnies, handprint hearts, footprint snowmen, handprint “love bugs”… the list goes on! Here is a picture of the “love bugs” we made this year:
My favourite thing about footprint/handprint crafts is how creative you can be with them. And you can make them educational too – check out this great post showing alphabet handprint and footprint ideas – so cute!
SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS/STEM ACTIVITIES:
We are just starting to get into science experiments and STEM activities at our house right now. So far, these activities have been a big hit! My son, in particular, loves taking things apart, seeing how things work and generally just tinkering. Here are a couple of ideas that were a bit hit:
DIY Volcano: DIY volcanos are one of those activities I refer to as low input-high output: easy to prepare (i.e. – low time input) and incredibly engaging for kiddos (i.e. – high time output). These activities are pure GOLD for mamas and papas, of course! To put together a DIY volcano, all you really need is a medium/tall container or jar, a sheet pan, baking soda and vinegar. Simply pour some baking soda into the bottom of your container/jar (how much depends on how big it is, but I would suggest starting with a little – a few tablespoons – and adding more as it dissolves just so it doesn’t go everywhere!) and place your container/jar on the sheet pan (to catch overflow), then help your little one poor some vinegar into the jar and watch it react! I took this a step further in our most recent volcano experiment and put together a “volcano” – I simply placed the jar on a small plate and wrapped the whole thing in foil, then poked a hole in the top, so it would look like the foam was coming out of an actual volcano. My son thought this was the coolest thing! Here are some pictures:
Building Creations: My kids love building things with blocks. Block building can be somewhat limited, though. Which, I suspect, is exactly why my kids love Magformers so much! Another great building material option that is significantly less expensive than Magformers are these DIY blocks:
Made with foam “blocks” I picked up at the Dollar Store and stuck pieces of velcro onto, these blocks are super affordable and allow my kiddos to be really creative! It also works on their fine motor skills as they stick and unstick the blocks together! Here is an example of how they can be put together:
Still looking for science experiment/STEM ideas? Check out this great post put together by Meraki Lane!
Kids have a lot of energy, and I mean a LOT of energy. Being cooped up indoors makes it much more difficult to burn that energy off. If you don’t get your little ones moving, though, you will pay dearly for it at nap/bed time (I know you know what I am talking about!). Here are a few game ideas you can play with your little ones to burn some of that energy off:
Hide and Seek
Animal Catch (My kids LOVE this game – I pretend I am whatever animal they want me to be, then I just chase them around acting like that animal, trying to catch them! Alligators are a bit hit around here for this game.)
Exercise (My kids especially love “monkey push-ups”, which is just doing push-ups with a “monkey” – a stuffed animal for them and one, or both, of them for us parents – on their back. They also enjoy obstacle courses that include jumping jacks and lots of running! If you have some great open space in your house, obstacle courses are a great way to burn energy!)
Lava Floor (You know the game I’m talking about, right?! The floor is lava and you have to build an intricate pathway of pillows and stuffed animals to walk on so you don’t melt!)
Indoor hopscotch (Use painter’s tape to make a grid and a small stuffed animal for tossing)
Keep it Up (Don’t let the balloon(s) touch the ground! This is a GREAT game for burning energy as it really gets the kiddos moving!)
Scavenger Hunts (These are always fun and can include simple household items from all over the house. Kids generally love looking for things, finding things and collecting things; scavenger hunts are all of those things rolled into one!)
Need some more energy-busting ideas? Check out this amazing list of ideas put together by What Moms Love!
After all that running around, it doesn’t hurt to slow things down for a bit and do some low energy activities with your kiddos. Here are a few ideas:
Puzzles (3D ones are great as an alternative to the regular ones!)
Board Games (Board games can be hard with younger kids, but preschoolers love them! My son especially enjoys Snakes and Ladders as well as Connect Four right now!)
Card Games (Simple games that involve matching cards and Crazy 8’s are great with younger kids!)
Yoga and Stretching
Busy Boxes/Bags (These are just small collections of quiet activities put together in a box or bag that your child can play with, typically independently. I am obsessed with busy bags and have them stashed all over the house and in my car! More to follow on these another day!)
Activity Books (mazes, connect the dots, coloring, stickers, etc.)
Music (playing instruments, singing relaxing songs together, etc.)
Most of the other ideas set out above (sensory bins, crafts, science and STEM activities) are actually quite calming as well and worth trying if your child gets bored of the ideas on this list!
I hope you were able to find some great rainy day activities to do with your kiddos in this post! If you have some other great ideas, please feel free to share below!
I also wanted to note that my favourite part of this entire post is the fact that my kids are in the pyjamas in every single picture. 😋