The weather is warming up, and we can finally start letting the kids play outside again. Unfortunately, warmer weather always brings those April showers that leave us stuck indoors with toddlers who are full of energy with nowhere to use it. We all love our kids, but that much energy in a contained space is bound to explode.
Here are a few rainy-day games to keep your little ones busy while helping you maintain your sanity.
There’s nothing more fun than mixing up a batch of oobleck, a non-Newtonian fluid that defies definition and classification. It’s easy to make — just mix up two parts cornstarch with one part water and stir slowly until well blended. When moving slowly, it stays in a liquid state — but smack it and it suddenly turns solid!
It provides hours of fun and is easy to clean up. It washes off with warm water, and if it gets into the carpet, just let it dry. It turns back into a powder, which makes it easy to sweep or vacuum up.
Art Without the Cleanup
Art time is a great way to while away the rainy hours, but with a toddler, art almost always equals a big mess. Even if they’re trying to keep everything on the table, one distracted moment means paint or crayons everywhere.
To keep the mess to a minimum, try setting up an art station in the bathtub. Everything is nicely contained, messes can be washed down the drain, and stains on your toddler can be showered right off. Just stick with washable paints and markers that will easily wash off both toddlers and tile.
Indoor Tennis Lessons
This might sound terrifying, especially if you’ve got breakable trinkets or windows, but bear with us. Indoor tennis can be a great way to burn up some of that toddler energy. Make tennis rackets by gluing or taping plastic spoons to paper plates, and blow up a couple of balloons to serve as tennis balls. If you’re worried about the game expanding into other rooms, lay out a tennis court with removable painters tape on the carpet or floor.
Just Dance or Play
Video games get a bad reputation for encouraging kids to be sedentary, but game systems like the Wii and Xbox have a variety of sports and exercise games that can keep you moving while you’re stuck inside. For toddlers, the Kinect is a good option because it doesn’t require any controllers, but it only works with the Xbox One. If all you’ve got is a Wii, make sure the controller is connected securely to your little one’s wrist to keep it from flying through your television screen.
Feed the Birds
Being stuck inside doesn’t mean you’ve got to miss out on the great outdoors — just spend some time preparing for it. A quick and easy toddler craft is to make bird feeders that you can hang outside your window. All you need are some pipe cleaners and Cheerios. Have your little ones loop Cheerios onto the pipe cleaners, twist the ends together and when the weather improves, hang them outside.
Not only does this help you and your little one enjoy the birds and the outdoors, it’s also a good exercise to improve hand-eye coordination.
There’s nothing more fun that making your way through a laser maze, except for the whole tripping a security alarm thing that usually comes with it. That’s where the string laser maze comes in. Create your own maze for your little one to make their way through by running string or yarn between walls, doors and other parts of your home. Challenge your toddler to make their way through the maze without touching the strings.
For little ones, make sure you attach the strings in such a way that if they fall on them, the strings will come loose rather than getting tangled up.
Kids love colors, so playing with rainbows is an awesome way to capitalize on that without going too crazy. A few ideas for playing with color include:
- Rainbow rice: Rice is great for sensory play, so why not add some color? Mix a cup of dry rice with some food coloring and half a cup of vinegar in a container with a lid. Shake well, then spread out on a cookie sheet to dry.
- Shaving cream art: Cover a big piece of poster board or cardboard with shaving cream and dip a few drops of food coloring in. Let your toddlers swirl the colors in the shaving cream. When they’re done, you can even save their masterpiece by laying a piece of paper over the top.
- Eyedropper art: Fill a dish with a thin layer of baking soda, then mix some food coloring with vinegar. You probably know where this is going. Use an eyedropper to drip the vinegar mix into the baking soda. You get the awesome foaming reaction of mixing vinegar and baking soda, and are left with a colorful design!
Enjoy those crazy colors.
Those energetic toddler years won’t last forever, so even if you’re tempted to run away for the weekend the next time you’re stuck in the house because of rainy weather, take the time to enjoy it. They’re only little for a little bit, so enjoy those rainy days while they last.