1. Go to the library
Admittedly, you will not be the only family who opts for this activity today. But that can be a good thing, because it means there will be other kids for your kids to socialize with. And if your library is anything like mine, the kids' room is no longer the silent, forbidding place of our youth, but instead a welcoming room encouraging kids to play and read out loud. There may even be activities like story hour, Lego club, and reading contests. Pick out some good read-aloud books, too, and when you get home, read the stories and challenge the kids to draw their own illustrations as you go along. Good titles that appeal to wide age ranges include "The Wizard of Oz," "The Indian in the Cupboard," "Bed-knob and Broomstick," "Matilda," the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, and "The Amazing Flight of Darius Frobischer."
2. Bake something.
My kids love to play in the kitchen, and they don't get a lot of opportunity in the summer, because I hate heating up the kitchen and tend to make supper on the grill. But a cool, rainy day is the perfect time to teach your kids how to knead bread, bake cookies, and peel vegetables. Here are a few of my favorite kid-friendly recipes:
- Challah bread
- Confetti popcorn
- Edible peanut butter play-doh
- Pumpkin pie
3. Have a board game marathon
Pull out all your favorite board games - you know you have a stash gathering dust in a closet or on a shelf somewhere, everyone does - and take turns choosing which one to play. Our family favorites include Operation, Sum Swamp, Twister, the Princess Cupcake game, and of course, Chutes and Ladders and Candyland. If you honestly don't have a single board game in the house, get thee to Target and pick up a few! Seriously, it'll be the best 20 bucks you ever spent.
4. Do something messy - outside
If it's not pouring, or if there are short breaks in the rain, take advantage of Mother Nature's cleanup skills and do something messy on the porch or the sidewalk, and let her take care of cleaning up afterwards. Here are some fun, messy ideas to get you started:
Depending on what your kids are into, this could be anything from a dance recital to a karaoke contest to a concert to a gymnastics exhibition to an art show to a play. Let them make decorations for the stage, choose background music, and create costumes. Help them write up or print out programs. Get out your best announcer voice and introduce each act as if it's a monster truck show. The hammier, the better. Invite the neighbor kids to be the audience - or, even better, get them to create acts and have all the parents over in the evening to be the audience. If some of the kids are too shy to be on stage, let them be the techies and pull back the curtain, control the lights, start the music, and hand out programs.
6. Have a scavenger hunt
Make up a list of things that can be found around the house - a safety pin, a blue sock, a penny dated from the 1970s, a book with the word "of" in the title - and give the kids 20 minutes to find as many as they can. Or challenge them to collect items starting with each letter of the alphabet - in order. If they get stuck on a letter, give them a chore to do to get to skip it: make the beds, fold a load of laundry, sweep the kitchen.
7. Do a science experiment
I know this sounds suspiciously like school, but experiments can be fun! Have the kids predict the outcome, then compare to what actually happens. Repeat the experiment to see if it comes out the same every time. Change something and see how the results differ. Talk about it. THINK about it. Figure it out! Here are some fun examples:
Of course, the best challenge of all is to challenge your kids to keep themselves entertained for the day! Give them some art supplies, some costumes, some toys, and some time - a warning that the alternative is helping you clean out closets all day wouldn't hurt, either - and see what they can come up with! You might be surprised at their creativity!