Rain, rain, go away. Come back again when my toddler can amuse himself for 8 hours. Thinking of rainy day activities for your kids is challenging. Our son was born in warm southwestern climate where we had a house and backyard and what felt like 365 days of blissful sunshine. Rainy days were rare and short-lived.
Now our family lives in an apartment in New York and a rainy day can turn into a rainy week. I see rain in the weather forecast and groan knowing that every library, children’s museum, or kid’s movie within a 30-mile radius is going to be either packed or sold out.
While Pinterest is a great resource for finding simple crafts for kids, when a rainy day surprises you it’s unlikely that you will have everything on hand for an impromptu Martha Stewart-style craft session with your child.
This is why I keep my eyes peeled at the grocery store, dollar store, or even hardware store for sale and clearance items for my “emergency box.” The idea is to build up a little reservoir of rainy day activities and distractions for your toddler that you can choose from when you need to.
These are the items I’m always on the hunt for:
- Coloring Books & Stickers
- Brightly Colored Pipe Cleaners or Popsicle Sticks
- Play Doh
- Child-Friendly Magnets
- Food Dye
- Bubble Bath
- Shaving Cream
- Small Toys & Trinkets
Shop Clearance: Inexpensive Off-Season Crafts for Your Kids
After a major holiday you can pick up reindeer, turkey, or bunny stickers, cookie cutters, wrapping paper, and tons of other trinkets on the cheap. Your 2-year old won’t care that you gave her a sheet of Santa-themed Christmas gift labels to stick on her drawing in July. She’ll just be excited about STICKERS!
In our box above you’ll see dollar store toys, Playdoh, bathtub fingerpaint, a discarded roll of stickers from a dental office, popsicle sticks, Easter-themed bubbles and temporary tattoos, a Christmas tree cookie cutter, kid-safe magnets, and a bunch of art and coloring supplies. Nothing fancy, but it will all be new and interesting to our toddler.
Simple Activities: Teaching Your Toddler to Amuse Herself
Don’t overthink it! You don’t have to invent a new game in order to keep your child amused. Here are 5 of the most recent toddler-friendly activities to come out of my emergency box that have kept our son busy for over an hour:
- Coloring a discarded cardboard box
- Making “cookies” with blue Playdoh and cookie cutters
- Sorting brightly colored popsicle sticks into different cups
- Playing with shaving cream in the bathtub
- Threading pipe cleaners through a colander
Blowing bubbles, “sidewalk” chalk drawing on black construction paper, or picking up small toys with kitchen tongs and dropping them into a bowl are other activities that require little to no effort on your part and will tickle them pink. These activities don’t require much guidance so you can let them explore and experiment. You’ll be surprised how many times they start with one activity and turn it into something else to entertain themselves.
Surprises and Activities for Rainy Days, Sick Days, and Bad Days
Riding on a toddler’s emotional roller coaster is nauseating at times. The emergency box is great for a rainy day, when you’re feeling under the weather, when the sitter cancels, or when it’s been a long day of tantrums and obstinance.
Sometimes a new activity is all they need to get out of their funk and will give you a minute to breathe. Or maybe handing them a $0.25 animal figurine that’s hiding in your purse will buy you an extra 15 minutes to finish that errand you’re running.
The concept of the rainy day box is great for both literal and metaphorical rainy days. However you use it, whenever you need it, it’s just comforting to know that it’s there for when motherhood throws you the next curveball.
Look for ideas, tips, and tricks for busy little hands here.