Five free activities for rainy summer days

Imagine if you will, a couple days of rainy weather. Or worse yet, a whole week. Or the unthinkable - an entire month of rainy, wet summer days.

That was our June. Ok, it didn't rain the whole month there were those 2 days of sunshine. And we made the best of those days but the rest of the month was a literal wash out.

I've learned a few tips from last month that I thought I'd pass on. Although they're about spending wet days with children I think they apply to any life situation, so even if you're childless please do read on.

1. Go out anyway

Unless you're a witch you won't melt, promise, and it's usually (last month's experience notwithstanding) warmer during the summer so you don't need to worry about the cold.

Put on a rain-proof layer, rubber boots (barefoot is fun in mud), go out, explore and get wet. Come back home and make soup for lunch. Teach your kids and yourself to enjoy life in spite of the circumstances. 

2. Tackle an indoor project

The kids might not be as gung-ho about this idea but maybe motivate them with a special treat. We recently ordered some new books from Amazon and upon their arrival I went through all our existing books (we try not to accumulate so there wasn't that many) and cleaned up the bookshelves, kid's books included.

We spent a morning on the floor asking "keep, give, swap or sell?" And when we were done everyone felt better about the easy to find books. 

3. Make something, anything

My kids have been really into making little houses this past month. They've spent days raiding the fabric stash, craft closet and recycle bins; designing, cutting and gluing. Those colorful blue, red, gray, green and golden colored balls on the middle left in the below photo - those are miniature food platters made with baked polymer clay.

These ideas are all their own, I don't usually direct my children's creative play too much. If you need some inspiration check out FIMBY's Sewing & Craft page. A favorite of ours is Silly Putty. Also check out The Crafty Crow

4. Watch a movie (or two, three, four...)

I love SnagFilms for finding free, quality documentaries on-line. We have the bonus of a very large monitor so the picture quality is good.

Not everything on this site is kid friendly but I've stuck to the PBS & National Geographic offerings. There is a lot of good films on this site that I want to watch too, but who has the time?

I have found that an hour long documentary will spark days worth of creative play - whether it's pirates, Japanese ninja's, African animals, WWI sunken ships - whatever they watch will fire their imagination and inspire their creativity. 

(I wrote this in the days before online Netflix streaming and other internet programming.)

what can I say it's all ninja around here these days
what can I say it's all ninja around here these days

5. Books, books and more books

We visit the library once a week and during those rainy weeks the kids spent a lot of time in books. My 8 & 6 year old don't even officially read yet but they still love books.

Audio books are a great alternative to regular reading time and can free mom up to do other stuff, although I get into the stories as much as the kids. Our library has a selection in the children's reading room.

I'd love to hear your rainy day summer ideas. Please share in the comments.

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  • Kika

    Kika on July 14, 2009, 2:55 a.m.

    We certainly prefer sunshine too but my kids don't get bored too easily when it rains (we've had our fair share over the past week!). Audio tapes, novels, painting, origami, sewing projects, playmobile & lego, drawing... they keep my kids occupied. If a friend is over they'll also take out board games.


  • Kate C.

    Kate C. on July 14, 2009, 11:01 a.m.

    We tend to do art projects on rainy days. We are blessed with a free YMCA membership, so sometimes we go swimming at the Y.

    Since you keep your at home book collection small, I'd love to hear about which books you do think are worth owning vs. borrowing.


  • Sage

    Sage on July 14, 2009, 11:55 a.m.

    June was really hard for us. I had to rethink my whole routine after being stuck inside for a month. My stepson is 8, so he is able to do a lot (origami is a current interest), but my sons are only 3 and 1. They have so much energy, they (I!) need outside time!

    I got one of those little tunnels for them to crawl through. They like to build two blanket and chair forts and use the tunnel to connect them.

    I put their mattress right on the floor and they use that for a trampoline.

    Now that it is a little warmer I have sent them out in the rain a few times. They play in puddles and such but really like using the slip in slide. It works perfectly without using huge amounts of tap water.


  • kirwin

    kirwin on July 14, 2009, 3:27 p.m.

    Great list! I heard that we're going to have an unusually wet winter this year -- something like El Nino, 16 or so years ago.

    I've always wanted to spend a wet day jumping in puddles. I haven't done it yet, but I'm going to make a point of it this year. Maybe dress the kids in dark-colored, old clothing to prevent ruining better clothing...and then I'll be prepared to run a warm bath and a load of laundry after! : )

    BTW, the silly putty looks awesome. We're going to try that.


  • Simple Kids

    Simple Kids on July 15, 2009, 3:28 a.m.

    Oh my. It's so hot and dry and miserable here that a month of rain sounds glorious! I am positive, however, that it would get REALLY old after a few days.

    These are fantastic ideas. My two littles would be all about just playing outside in the rain.

    Megan at Simple Kids's last blog post... Simple As That: Come on, get a little muddy!


  • Jenn

    Jenn on July 15, 2009, 5:31 p.m.

    your 8 year old doesn't read yet? please tell me more about seven year old isn't really reading either (well, simple words only) and i've been's good to know we're not freaks because our kids aren't reading at 4...


    • Rana

      Rana on July 17, 2009, 1:10 p.m.

      I was going to comment on that too. My son is 6 and my husband was worried that he wasn't reading yet. I tried to tell him sometimes it takes longer than what you would like. I even told him I had read that some children don't read until they are 8,9 even 12 years old. I'm so glad you wrote that too.


  • Rana

    Rana on July 17, 2009, 1:15 p.m.

    I also wanted to say thanks for the Snagfilms site. I found a video on Dinosaurs my son is going to love. We like to do puzzles the giant floor puzzles on rainy days. We pull out all of them and spread them out on the living room floor.


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