“Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!” Being stuck inside because of wet weather is a challenge for active, curious kids. While computer games, iPads and DVDs are a good standby on a rainy day, sometimes they are more trouble than they are worth, especially when they cause sibling squabbles and petty arguments.
So what can you do during the school holidays if the unthinkable happens and it starts to rain? Here are some tips to keep your kids engaged and entertained when they can’t go outside.
Choose toys and games that encourage independent play
Teachers and children’s health professionals recommend that children need to learn to play happily on their own. Kids who need parents to play with them, or to be their referee when arguments start, miss out on the opportunity to develop self reliance.
Puzzles are a great way to develop independent play.
Whether it comes with five pieces or five hundred pieces, a puzzle can also while away a few hours no matter what the weather.
When choosing a puzzle, make sure you select one that is appropriate for your child’s age and level of skill.
Younger children have more success when their puzzles:
- Contain large objects and distinct colours
- Are based on a photograph with clear lines between objects
- Are based on an educational theme or current favourite character.
- Have obvious border pieces that can be connected first.
Older children might enjoy a more challenging puzzle that will take several days to complete – but don’t forget to set up this expectation at the start. Also, make sure the unfinished puzzle is stored in a safe place where younger siblings can’t spoil your older child’s efforts.
Choose games that have clear rules
Cooperative play is a skill that kids need to learn. It requires communication, collaboration and compromise – things that some adults even find difficult!
Board games are a great way to develop cooperative play skills. An added benefit is that board games can also develop children’s thinking and learning skills.
There are hundreds of board games on the market and many have ‘junior’ versions suitable for children under the age of 10. Just make sure that you choose board games that are appropriate for your child’s age and interest.
Some games that encourage maths, problem solving and counting skills include:
- Snakes and Ladders
- Monopoly (and Junior Monopoly)
Choose games that encourage creative thinking, story telling and literacy
Some of teachers’ favourite games for fun and learning include:
- Scrabble Junior
- Pictionary Junior
- Hilarious Headlines
- Celebrity Head
Play a game of cards
Card games are another great standby for wet weather. They also have the advantage of being super portable, and so come in very handy in airports, waiting rooms or the homes of friends and relatives who don’t have children!
A regular pack of cards can be used for games like
- Go Fish
- Blackjack (without the gambling, of course!!)
Other card games that are associated with superheroes like Pokeman and Bakugans are also engaging for imaginative boys, while old favourites like Uno can be played by the whole family.
Encourage your kids’ creativity
Wet winter days are a perfect time to develop your child’s imaginative and creative skills. Boys and girls love to have extended opportunities to build a world of their own and there are many ways that you can facilitate this.
- Dress ups provide children of all ages with creative fun. You can purchase costumes representing fairies, princesses, superheroes and cowboys, or just have a box of shirts, ties, hats and jewellery that kids can experiment with. Add a mirror and your child’s role playing will hit new heights.
- Construction toys like Lego, Meccano and Connex also help kids to become resourceful and inventive. In addition, these toys develop children’s fine motor skills, making them a great choice for kids of all ages.
- Art and craft activities are another winner for a wet winter day. A simple easel combined with paints, textas, crayons and coloured pencils can provide children with hours of fun.
Waiting for the sun would make anyone weary. In the meantime, beat the rainy day blues with any number of these fun, family activities. With a bit of planning and some well chosen games, you and your children can survive the wet winter weather. Have fun!
Teacher & Kids First founder
© 2014 Kids First Children’s Services