We’ve enjoyed our fair share of rainy days recently in Southern California. Contrary to what many of my friends and neighbors seem to think, I find there is much fun to be had outside during wet weather.
The key to enjoying the rain is wearing the right clothing. Get the kids geared up with rain boots, a waterproof jacket with a hood and water-resistant pants. (Take a pass on umbrellas so your kids will have both hands free for exploring.)
Once you know your little ones will stay warm and dry, let ’em have at it. And you, too, for that matter! Why not …
Go for a walk: We take a walk through the neighborhood almost every night after dinner. Some of my favorite walks are on nights when it’s raining. The kids think it’s simply silly to be walking in the rain and we get a chance to see a quieter side of our outdoor world.
Jump in puddles: I’m convinced it’s impossible for kids to resist the urge to splash water. Challenge your kids to see who can create the biggest splash or jump the highest.
Play the listening game: The natural world sounds different when it’s raining. Spend a few minutes just listening to the sounds of the weather. Set out various objects (like metal, plastic and glass containers) to see how water droplets sound when they hit different surfaces.
Seek out creatures: Wet weather brings out creatures you might not normally see, like worms and snails. It’s also fun to go searching for animals that are trying to seek shelter from the rain, like birds and spiders.
Catch a falling raindrop: Use a plastic pail or jar to catch raindrops. Make it a game to see who can catch the most water the fastest. Encourage kids to try catching raindrops on their tongue, too!
Play in the mud: Who doesn’t love making mud pies? My 5 year old actually preferred something even simpler: grabbing gobs of mud and running them through his fingers, then trying to throw them like snowballs. Grab it, mold it, throw it – the messier the better!
Make rain art: Although we haven’t tried it yet, chalk painting in the rain sounds fun. I’d also like to put a spin on an idea I got from a fellow blogger friend of mine, Catherine (Adventures with Kids), who suggests creating land art. Your kids can pick up whatever they find on the ground and create a “picture” with the items.
Figure out what floats: My son’s biggest question during a recent rainy day outdoor adventure was “Will it float?” (and no, he doesn’t watch David Letterman!) He spent at least 15 minutes gathering all sorts of things – pieces of wood, leaves, weeds, rocks – and plopping each in a makeshift “river” to see which would float and which would sink.
Make a boat: Sticks, small pieces of wood and leaves all make great boats. My son’s goal was to find which item would make the fastest boat, and which would sail without his prodding.
Follow the flow: My son was fascinated by the fast flowing water running next to the curb. He ran in it, splashed in it and wanted to know where it was headed. It was a great opportunity to talk about where the water goes. (And no, kiddo, it’s not heading to the city dump!)
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em: Instead of trying to stay dry, why not get wet? Have a water balloon fight or do what one of my fellow outdoor pals, Michele (Fun Orange County Parks), does: hit the jacuzzi!
Next time it’s raining, don’t fight it; enjoy it! Your kids will thank you for it, I promise!