6 rainy-day activities for children

When gloomy weather keeps you and your little one indoors, beat the boredom with these fun and educational ideas that will keep even the busiest child happy. By Tammy Jacks

Does your heart sink at the first sign of rain? Don’t panic! Cold, wet weather is the perfect excuse to cuddle with your little one indoors and try some new, creative activities for children that will keep them entertained for hours.

Whether you and your little one spend the morning playing with different textures, such as cooked spaghetti or fabrics, or you encourage her to listen and sing along to songs on the TV or radio, it’s important to play games that will engage all her senses.

ALSO SEE: 7 fun indoor entertainment areas for kids

We picked 6 of our favourite indoor activities for children that are ideal for babies and toddlers:

1. Star box

Best for babies and toddlers

“Find a large, empty box. Cut off the lid flaps and one side so that when you turn it upside down, it makes a box that your little one can lie under and look at objects above her,” says occupational therapist, speaker and author Meg Faure. Cover the interior of the box with black paper, and hang and stick shiny objects like star stickers, glitter balls or fish shapes inside it. Your baby will love spending time looking at everything. If your child is older, let her help you stick objects to the box. Grab a pillow to lie beside her and talk about what you see.

2. Sort the toys

Best for toddlers

It may sound a little boring, but there’s no better time than a rainy day to clear away clutter and sort through your child’s toys. The great thing about this activity is that as you take games and toys out to be sorted, your child will rediscover old favourites and breathe new life into them, says Meg. It’s a good idea to rotate your little one’s toys and store some away for rainy days, or get your older child to decide what she wants to give away to charity or pass on to other family members. This is an opportunity to encourage kindness by talking about giving and sharing with your child.

3. Passageway maze

Best for babies and toddlers

This simple game is perfect for teaching your child body-space awareness as she will need to understand the amount of space her body takes up and how that space changes depending on which way she bends or turns, or crawls or reaches, says Lesley Cullender of Clamber Club. All you’ll need is some Prestik, streamers, string, wool and a passage in your home. Cut various lengths of the streamers or wool and stick them up in criss-cross patterns in the passage. Your little one will have loads of fun trying to crawl or move through the maze, with the added bonus of playing with various textures as she goes along. Hide a prize at the other end of the maze to encourage your child to get there.

4. Texture mat or box

Best for babies

If you’re handy with a needle, make a simple texture mat for your baby to lie on and explore. Simply get a large blanket and sew different pieces of material you have lying around the house, such as an old T-shirt, faux fur, wool or denim, on it. Allow your little one to lie on her stomach on the blanket so she can reach for, and touch, the fabrics. “This is one of my favourite activities for babies, because tummy time on the mat is a great experience for them,” says Meg.
Not a fan of sewing? Make a simple tug box for your child. Punch holes in an old shoe box and stick ribbons, different fabrics, straws, feathers and pipe cleaners through the holes for your child to pull and play with. She may also enjoy climbing on top of the box and moving it around.

5. Hide teddy

Best for toddlers

Tired of playing traditional hide-and-seek? Instead of hiding yourself, hide your toddler’s favourite teddy bear in different areas of the house. Set out with your toddler to find her teddy and reward her with something fun like a snack or sticker when she discovers it. Searching for objects or people encourages children to use their imaginations and helps them develop problem-solving skills, according to the US-based Child Development Institute.

6. Build a bowling alley

Best for toddlers

There’s no need to take your child to a bowling alley. Simply use any items you can stack – like blocks, plastic containers or wooden blocks – and have a few balls ready. Let your little one sit or stand at the other end of the passage and roll the ball towards the objects. “Bowling is an active task that builds your child’s visual sense as it involves stacking objects and then knocking them over with a ball, which uses visual perception,” says Lesley.

ALSO SEE: 10 child-friendly museums to visit on rainy days

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