Summer is slowly ambling away from us and autumn is drawing near. Here in Folkestone we’ve had some astonishing rain over the last few days. It’s far too easy for me to acquiesce to the cries of “Paw Patrol please mummyyyyy”, but I’ve been having those pangs of guilt lately about D’s screen time because she’s definitely had too much while I’m going through a particularly busy period at the moment.
I’ve therefore made a list of our favourite indoor activities that are perfect for a rainy day indoors, so I can find some inspiration when the call of the TV is strong.
I hope they might inspire you too as we stride into autumn and the weather becomes less friendly.
1. Treasure Hunt
This is one of my personal favourite activities when I’ve got time to properly connect with Dee.
We get our pirate bag- a small tote bag with skull and cross bones all over it- which is full of precious giant pearls (cheap ping-pong balls from eBay). We’ll take it in turns to hide the pearls all over the living room while the other one isn’t looking (or is blatantly spying on you through their not so subtly parted fingers). The other one then gets their telescope (toilet roll tube) and goes on a treasure hunt to find all the pearls and collect them in the bag.
It’s a great exercise for observation skills. I tell Dee to look up high, in the middle and down low, and she now repeats the mantra while she’s looking and finds them much faster.
Of course you don’t have to stick with the pirate theme. At Easter I hid little chicks everywhere and she collected them in a basket. You could do it with Duplo bricks, toy cars, even grapes if you’re confident you’ll find them all!
2. Make some art
Whenever I go past The Works, I can’t help but nip in for more craft supplies! As a child, I loved nothing more than drawing and painting and sticking and colouring, and my mum always kept a very well stocked craft cupboard, so I’m trying to follow in her footsteps. Dee loves everything crafty and has created some wonderful pieces to rival the Tate Modern.
When I’m lacking inspiration, I like to give her a blank greeting card and have her decorate it for people’s birthdays, or draw a face on a piece of paper and let her stick bits of string or strips of paper on as hair. She’s got a big tub full of pens and crayons and her own notebooks so she can help herself whenever she fancies being creative. It’s a great way to develop fine motor skills and imagination, and of course keep little ones busy on a rainy day.
3. Indoor obstacle course
I’m always trying to think of ways for Dee to get more exercise when we’re stuck indoors. She loves launching herself off the sofa and climbing up things, so to keep it interesting, I set up a mini obstacle course!
It doesn’t have to be Ninja warrior level, she’s only two, but some of the obstacles we make might include:
– laying a piece of string on the floor which she has to walk along like a tightrope
– put a ball at the end of it which she has to throw into a basket
– put a dining chair out for her to climb over
– wade through the ball pit
– jump off the sofa onto a pile of fat cushions on the floor
SO MUCH FUN!
Needless to say, tailor this activity to your child’s development level and make sure they’re safe.
4. Act out your favourite books
Just reading books is fun of course, but when we’re stuck indoors I like to encourage Dee to get active. Her favourite book by far is ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, which is an amazing book I remember from my own childhood, and I now get the pleasure of reading it nearly every day to my own daughter. It’s so much fun pretending to splash through rivers, squelch through mud, tiptoe through caves…. and run away from bears!
I completed a ‘Born to Move‘ course recently which is all about encouraging babies and children to be more active. The trainer spoke about how good ‘bear walking’ is for both physical and mental development, so we grab any opportunity to be bears in our house. (Video link here if you’re as clueless as I was about what bear walking is).
She also loves it when we read it at different speeds, “really really fast now mummy!”, or at different volumes “now really really quiet, shhhh”. I love doing this with her as it makes it more interesting for me (!) and (I like to think) teaches her about voice control, volume and speed.
I’ve added a link to the book on Amazon below in case you’d like to add it to your library! (Affiliate link – I may earn a small commission if you buy after clicking through from here but the price you pay will be the same as going direct).
It’s the bane of some parent’s lives, but personally, I’m a fan.
Toddler hack: I bought a plastic tablecloth second hand which I throw on the floor, and plonk D in the middle with her play-doh and strict instructions that the doh stays on the mat! You can buy it by the metre at places like Dunelm Mill or C&H Fabrics.
It’s massive, so it usually does the trick, but if the odd bit does escape, just wait for it to harden and scrape it off.
I met a mum once who said she put her children in an empty bath to play with anything messy – if you have cream carpets and tiny wildlings, that might be your preferred option!
Another big issue apparently for some parents is the colours getting mixed – but who needs that worry on top of everything else?! All our pots are full of rainbow play-doh (and eventually grey mush)! I also limit it to 2-3 pots at a time otherwise it’s a pain to tidy up and more wasted if it accidentally gets left out.
This is another great activity for fine motor development and dexterity.
6. Make a den
Also known as ‘build a fort’ across the pond. Every activity is more fun in a den! Grab some sheets, pile up the pillows, crack out the clothes horse and build yourselves a delightful den. Are you bears in a cave? Fairies in a nook? Knights in a castle? Ignite imaginations, learn about building and keep the children entertained in the rain!
Now, I’ll be honest, with a 2.5 year old I find puzzles infuriating. Why she always tries to put the pieces in upside down when I’ve just put them down the right way up for her is beyond me. And surely the concept of corners, carefully explained a gazillion times, can’t be that hard to grasp(!) Gahhh!
But, when I see little improvements every now and again, it proves that the time put in is worth it and of course she’ll get it in the end.
Puzzles are fantastic for spatial awareness as well as fine motor skills.
8. Building blocks
An old favourite, D always enjoys building towers and knocking them down. We’ve got some plain wooden blocks that she uses a lot, and also a small amount of Duplo that she likes to build rockets and ice creams out of. She’s going through a birthday obsession at the moment so we build lots of birthday cakes with candles and blow them down!
Disclaimer – I’m no Mary Berry, I don’t watch bake off, and I tend to burn food just to make sure it’s definitely cooked…but I can just about manage the pre-packaged fairy cake mix. Dee loves to help crack the egg, stir the mixture, dollop it into the cases and put the rice paper stickers on the top. We let her have one or two of the finished creations, and devour the rest ourselves because sugar.
Stock photo because my hands are always too messy for photos when we bake!
10. Sing a long & boogie
We are a very musical family and love having a good sing a long and a living room boogie any day of the week.
D loves to sing nursery rhymes and anything from Moana, but is equally happy to dance along to some pop/rock/metal tracks that mummy and daddy like. We like to make sure she listens to a variety of music and it’s amazing to see her rocking out to artists like Queen and Biffy Clyro.
This one can be tailored to the time of day, so we might calm it down and have a cuddle while singing some more gentle songs if it’s getting close to bedtime. Twinkle Twinkle is always a winner, as well as You Are My Sunshine and the harrowing-now-you’re-a-parent Rock a Bye Baby.
11. Bath for fun
We’ve got a love/hate relationship with baths in our house. One minute she’ll scream at the very mention of the bath, the next minute she can’t wait to try out some new, glittery bubble bath and is dragging me by the hand into the bathroom.
Hair washing is usually the biggest obstacle, and she’s not often keen on washing in general, preferring just to sit and play with her bath toys uninterrupted. When we’re stuck indoors though, she loves to have a bath that’s just for fun and not specifically for washing. She can play with her toys without either of us dreading a hair wash or a soapy scrub at the end and I like to think it helps to build positive associations with bath time that will make the next ‘real’ one better for both of us.
12. Blow bubbles
I have several small bottles of bubble mixture stuffed in bags and coat pockets and the car, because aren’t they just the best low key distraction for any toddler?
D loves running around popping them, but I also let her hold the small bottles and blow her own bubbles which she’s very proud of. Another thing she likes to do is catch the bubbles with the bubble wand which is really great for hand eye coordination and also gets her moving.
I hope that’s given you some inspiration for your next rainy day indoors. I’d love to know what your favourite indoor activities are. Let me know in the comments below 🙂