Let’s face it… if you are a parent, playing outside in the rain might not sound like a blast. You would probably like to retreat to your comfy chair, preferably with a cup of tea and a good book, a soft blanket and some lovely music playing in the background. I hear you.
Your children are fidgeting, jumping, bouncing… literally climbing the walls of the house! They need to be outdoors. As strange as it may sound to grown ups, most children don't mind the rain at all - in fact they love getting wet!
Rain makes everything feel more magical and can turn even the simplest, most ordinary adventure into an extraordinary one.
Today, I’m sharing some of our favourite outdoor rainy day activities - they’ve all been tried and tested by our crew of little explorers - our Forest school and in my family! Choose what is most appealing and suitable to your chid’s age and energy level, wrap up in a waterproof jacket and head outdoors with a big smile.
Safety concerns about playing outside in the rain
Safety first, right? So before you head outdoors on a wet day, here are some safety considerations to keep in mind:
Don’t head out in a thunderstorm. Teach children to come indoors if they hear thunder. “When thunder roars, go indoors” is a good catch phrase most preschoolers will remember. If you are caught in an open area, find adequate shelter.
Ensure your child is wearing appropriate footwear, depending on the terrain. Gumboots are great for puddles on the pavement, but if you are heading on a hike, waterproof boots are a better option.
Never swim in storms. Water is a conduit for electricity and lightning spreads over the water.
Avoid playing in stagnant, murky water especially if higher than your child’s knee level. If you can’t see what you’re stepping on, best to avoid.
Grown ups tend to avoid mud - but most children love it! Mud provides one of the best
sensory experiences in nature. The magical combination of earth and water never fails to entertain.. So let's start with some muddy ideas to explore.
Make your own mud kitchen
Gather some old bowls, spoons, pots and pans and make your own mud
kitchen in the garden. Add natural items such as sticks, leaves, seedpods and petals. Children love getting their hands dirty scoop, pouring, stirring, weighing.. (if you can, add an old-fashioned scale).
For extra fun, add a plastic bucket full of water, so they can work out the consistency they need for their mud creations.
Mud pies & tea parties
Once your kitchen is set up you’re ready for a mud tea party (or birthday party or..)!
Mud pies are a classic, but you can make mud cakes, mud pizzas, mud muffins .. the possibilities are endless. Sprinkle your creation with chopped up grass or petals on the top.
Add a few bottles of coloured water (use a drop of food colour or watercolour paint) and watch your child come up with all sorts of recipes.
This is a great activity for kids with active imaginations – create a mud monster. Grab a handful of squelchy mud and mould it into a face. We like sticking the mud on a tree trunk, then look out for natural items you could use for eyes, teeth, claws, scales, tentacles… whatever gruesome features you can think of. (Younger children might not like the idea of making ‘monsters’.. create a happy face instead!)
Paint with mud
All you need is some mud, a few paintbrushes and a surface to paint! This could be anything from a piece of paper or cardboard to your driveway. It will wash off quickly, so no harm done :)
Other wet play ideas
Make chalk paint
Get some chalks and paint the driveway, then watch the colours melt into each other as the water flows through them.
Older children will enjoy crushing the chalk into a bowl and mixing it with water into a plastic spray bottle. Spray paint fun!
Make body paint with ochre
Same process as above, but instead of using chalk, you can crush some ochre or even charcoal. Mix with rainwater and use it as body paint. This often leads into various camouflaging games!
Harvest clay in the wild
Find clay in the wild! Did you just walk a patch of soil that is white, or red and feels crumbly to the touch? Chances are you are standing on wild clay.. stick your finger in the ground and dig a small amount.
Clay straight from the ground does need to be processed - remove most impurities, like tiny rocks and leaves, roll it up in a ball and start creating.
(Please do not dig in national parks, nature reserves and other protected areas)
Leaf and twig boats
Challenge your family to a raft race with your own handmade boats.
Collect some twigs roughly the same length fasten them together with string or long grass. Pinecones and seedpods make fantastic boats too - black bean seedpods are our favourite!
Slot an upright stick into the base of your raft – this will be your mast.
Thread a leaf or two onto the stick to make your sail.
Try your rafts out on the nearest puddle, creek or stream of water. For an extra challenge why not add some cargo? Small pebbles, berries, whatever you can find – do they still float or do they sink with the added weight?
Hunt for slugs and snails
Slimy slugs, slippery snails and wriggly worms all come out when it’s wet as they don’t have to worry about drying out. How many can you and your kids spot on a wet weather nature hunt?
Save the worms
Grab a magnifying glass to spot and save the lost worms - gently grab them with your hand, or a leaf, and put them back in the grass and off the sidewalk.
Build a shelter
Get tarps or fabric, some twine, pegs, and challenge the kids to build a dry shelter.
Go for a rainy day walk
Probably the easiest activity of all.. gear up, get an umbrella, and go for a rainy walk! Honestly, there is so much to do and discover. Here are some ideas to get you inspired:
Sing rainy songs (or make up silly ones!)
Jump in puddles
Have a rain shower - ask your child to stand under a tree and shake a branch - giggles guaranteed :)
Collect nature items
Watch water go into a sewer drain
Create a dam with rocks and pebbles
Look for mushrooms (but don’t pick them)
Play running games, like hide and seek or tag in the rain!
We want to see you and your kids having fun outdoors - rain, hail or shine! What are your favourite rainy day outdoor activities? Use the hashtag #growingwithnature to share them with us!