Go Guide: Getting Kids Outside on a Rainy Day
When the rainy season is upon us, it can feel like the only thing to do is to hunker down indoors with a few good library books and a stack of board games. Here at KEEN we love a cozy day inside as much as the next family, but we also know that getting outdoors when it’s raining can be loads of fun too! Here are our go-to kid-approved activities to encourage outdoor play on a rainy day (plus a printable to keep on your fridge!).
First things first: rain gear
Whether it’s a downpour, shower, or light mist, good rain gear goes a long way in keeping kids comfortable when it’s wet outside. Before setting out on your rainy-day adventure, make sure your kiddo has these wet-weather essentials:
• A reliable waterproof jacket: Look for one with a roomy fit so it’s easy to add on top of warm base layers. We love a jacket with an attached hood (so it’s always there when kids need it) and big pockets (for storing all the treasures they find as they explore). If your kiddo’s jacket isn’t exactly waterproof anymore, an umbrella is always a good addition. Plus, kids love ‘em!
• Comfortable, waterproof footwear: Nobody likes wet toes if it's cold out. Make sure your child has a reliable pair of waterproof boots or shoes for outdoor play. (Or if it's a warm day, quick-dry hybrid sandals!) Check out our list of kid-loved (and parent-approved) waterproof footwear to find the right pair for your kid.
• Hat and gloves: If it’s cold out, also be sure to pack a cozy hat and a pair of gloves. We like to repurpose ski gear for rainy days outside since it tends to be water-resistant and warm.
KEEN tip: If your kiddo really doesn’t like getting wet, consider adding rain pants and a waterproof bucket hat to the list.
Our favorite rainy-day activities
Outside the rain is coming down and inside the kids are starting to feel cooped up. Time to zip up jackets, slip on rain boots, and head outside for some rainy-day fun. Check out these ideas for how to make the most of a soggy day outdoors:
1. Blow some rainy-day bubbles
No matter the weather, bubbles are always a hit. When it’s wet out, bubbles don’t always pop when they hit damp surfaces which adds an extra layer of magic to the activity. You’ll need:
☐ Premixed bubble solution or one cup dish soap gently mixed with six cups of water
☐ Bubble wands. If you don’t have any lying around, you can also use slotted spoons, cookie cutters, or make your own wands out of metal hangers.
2. Build a rain fort
Kids are constantly building indoor forts. Why not bring the fun outdoors too? This activity is best for older kids or when a parent can help out. You’ll need:
☐ Tarps or a tent rain fly to use as the roof or walls of the shelter
☐ Outdoor furniture, bushes, or a clothesline string across the yard to prop up the tarps
☐ An old camping pad or yoga mat for the floor on the inside. This will make it feel extra cozy so kids can have as much fun playing inside the tent as they did building it!
KEEN tip: If you have a wooded area near your home, try building a shelter out of natural materials! Instead of furniture and tarps, consider using found branches and bark to create a lean-to against a tree. Not as waterproof, but just as fun!
3. Take the bath toys outside
Who says bath toys should only be used in the bath? Choose a selection of bath toys that you’re okay with getting a little dirty and head outdoors to the nearest puddle! When playtime is done, give the toys a rinse, pop them in the dishwasher and they’ll be clean again by bathtime. You’ll need:
☐ Bath toys such as floating boats, squirt or spray toys, straining buckets, etc.
4. Conduct a sink or swim experiment
There’s plenty to do on a rainy day as a budding scientist! One of our favorite experiments is the sink or swim test. Fill a large bucket with water (or find a deep bird bath or puddle) and gather 10-20 objects. One at a time, drop an object in the water to see if it sinks or floats! You’ll need:
☐ A deep bowl or bucket for water
☐ 10-20 objects such as rocks, sticks, leaves, or other things found around the yard
☐ A notebook or paper to record observations
5. Go for a nature walk
Rain brings with it more than just puddles and soggy lawns. Rain invites budding flowers, tasty spring and summer edibles, and the possibility of a rainbow sighting! Head out into the forest or nature area for a hike. Be sure to stop every so often to witness how the birds, animals, and plants are enjoying the rain. You’ll need:
☐ Comfy shoes or boots for walking
☐ Hiking snacks
☐ Binoculars if you have them!
KEEN tip: If a hike isn’t in the cards, just stick around the neighborhood and enjoy the wet weather with a fun scavenger hunt.
6. Cook up some mud pies and raindrop stew
Whipping up a good pie or stew is practically a rainy-day tradition. It doesn’t take more than a little dirty water, a helping of mud, and a few twigs to “bake” a downright mouthwatering (however inedible) delicacy. For littler kids, it’s always a good idea to remind them that this type of cooking isn’t for eating. You’ll need:
☐ Outdoor-approved cookware like old pie tins, mixing bowls, and utensils
☐ Found ingredients such as flowers, rocks, sticks, and grass
7. Become a rainy-day composer
Rain falling on an umbrella makes a beautiful sound, doesn’t it? Create outdoor music by gathering a selection of objects and setting them outside as it rains. Have kids listen to the unique sounds created by the water hitting the objects and let kids bang and tap on them with different tools to hear how the sound changes. You’ll need:
☐ Objects of different materials like metal bowls, plastic storage containers, tin foil, ceramic dishes, etc.
☐ Wood, metal, and plastic utensils
8. Get on your bikes and practice cyclocross
Turns out, biking in the mud and rain is a real sport, called cyclocross, and it’s super fun for kids. Although cyclocross is typically an event where kids race against other children, you can practice as a family by just getting out into a park or bike path. The best part? The muddier you get at cyclocross, the better, so encourage your kids to have fun and hit those mud puddles! You’ll need:
☐ Bikes with grippy, off-road tires
☐ Helmets and comfy shoes
☐ A hose and scrub brush for cleaning bikes after the ride is done (this part is a lot of fun for kids too!)
The next time the forecast predicts rain heading your way, have our Rainy Day Go Guide Printable handy so you and the kids can make the most of the wet weather.
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