According to the cheery news this week, there are three months of storms forecast for the winter ahead, but, while the rain might not bother children, for parents, the prospect of yet another wet day in the park can be rather depressing, to say the least.
We don’t know about you, but when the rain pours or it’s freezing cold, we find it quite tempting to leave the wellies and waterproofs where they are, stick the heating on and have some indoor time with the kids.
The only question is how to keep them entertained without everyone going stir-crazy. In her new book, 101 Things for Kids to do on a Rainy Day, Dawn Isaac addresses just this, coming up with a wealth of creative ideas to do with the children at home on those dreary winter days.
Here are some of our favourite ideas from the book.
1. Play balloon Stomp
You’ll need to have an inflated balloon for each player. Attach a piece of string or ribbon to the neck of the balloon and then tie this onto your ankle. On ‘Go’ the aim is to burst everyone else’s balloons but to keep yours intact. The winner will be the last one left with their balloon still inflated.
2. Pitch an indoor camp
You will need: Mops, brooms and/or canes, Chair, Sheets or duvet covers, Rugs, cushions, pillows and/or sleeping bags, Clothes pegs (optional), Fairy lights (optional),
If you have a small pop-up tent you could use this but it’s much more fun to create your own sleeping quarters. Mops and brooms can be used to make the front entranceway and the back of a chair makes a good rear entrance. Use large sheets or duvet covers to drape over the structure, make comfy with lots of blankets, pillows and cushions, then string fairy lights around the entrance as your stars.
2. Compete in hands-free ping-pong
You will need: A table, Masking tape, A ping-pong ball,
First, you’ll need a good-sized table, then put a line down the middle to divide the two playing halves. Masking tape works well as it’s pretty easy to take off afterwards. A ping-pong ball is placed at the centre of the middle line and on ‘Go’ everyone tries to blow it over the edge of the opponent’s side. You can defend your own half of the table with your body but your hands must be behind your back at all times. A ball over the edge of the opponent’s half of the table wins you a point – and the first to five can claim victory.
3. Build a shoebox house
You will need: Shoeboxes, Masking tape, Paint, Ruler, Pencil, Felt or foam sheets, Glue stick or double-sided sticky tape, Wrapping paper, White paper, Thick felt-tip pens (including black), Toilet roll inners or other tubes (optional), Cereal box (optional)
Each shoebox will form a room, so start by deciding on the layout of your house. When you’re happy with the look, begin taping together all the boxes. You could add chimneys to the top by using toilet roll inners or other tubes. You can also make a sloped roof by cutting the corner off a cereal box and taping it to the top of a shoebox. For the interior, use felt or foam to make carpets and wrapping paper as wallpaper. Furniture can be made from small boxes (matchboxes are ideal) or salt dough.
You will need: Old newspapers, Flour or PVA glue, Water, Mixing bowl, Paint, Paintbrush, Balloon (optional), cardboard (optional),
Rip strips of newspaper about 2–3 cm wide and 10cm long. Make your paste by mixing a cup of flour and a cup and a half of water together or by diluting two parts PVA glue with one part water. Make sure it’s mixed to a nice smooth consistency. Now, decide what you want to make. A blown-up balloon can be a useful base for many structures and cardboard shapes attached with masking tape are a good way to build up more complex structures.
5. Decorate a Tablecloth
Use chunky felt-tip pens or wax crayons to embellish your cloth, a large piece of a paper. You could make place settings by drawing around plates, cutlery and cups and add decorations or guest names to these. And if you’re having a themed party, the cloth can be decorated to match – maybe lots of spooky pictures for a Halloween party or eggs and chicks for an Easter lunch. It’s up to you and your creative genius.
6. Make your own jigsaw
You will need: Old cereal boxes, PVA glue, Brush, Picture, Sticky-backed plastic, Scissors, Box or ziplock bag
You can make jigsaw puzzles out of old greetings cards, pictures from magazines or your own genius artistic creations. Old cereal packets work well as a base but are a little thin so it’s best to stick two pieces together, with the plain card on the outside. Cut out a piece of sticky-backed plastic a little taller than your puzzle and just over twice the width. Unpeel half of it and stick it to the back of your jigsaw, smoothing it out carefully with your hands. Take off the rest of the backing and smooth the other half of the sticky-backed plastic to the front of your puzzle. Remember, these puzzles are pretty tricky so don’t cut too many pieces (15–20 is good, 250 might be a bit excessive).
7. Try salt painting
You will need: thin card, PVA glue, table or cooking salt, Newspaper (to protect table and collect salt), Paint tray or small pots, Food colouring, Water, Paintbrush
Take a piece of card, any colour you want, then paint a picture using the glue. Strong, simple shapes work well. When you are happy with your composition, coat it in table salt. Make sure you sprinkle plenty on and tilt it backwards and forwards to cover the top and sides of the glue. On a paint tray or in small pots, add a few drops of food colouring to a tablespoon of water. Dip a clean paintbrush into this mixture and touch it to a section of your painting. The colour will instantly be absorbed by the salt and start travelling along the crystals to wonderful effect.
8. Play wink murder
You will need: 5 or more players, Paper, Pen or pencil, container, Dreadful acting
Have the same number of folded pieces of paper as there are players. Mark one with a cross and leave the others blank. Ask everyone to draw a piece of paper out of a hat. The person with the cross will be the murderer but can’t tell anyone. Now, the game begins. The murderer has to try to kill off other players by winking at them. If a player is winked at, they must count to five before letting out a chilling scream or collapsing to the floor in a dramatic manner.
Anyone can guess who the murderer is. If they guess correctly, they win. But if they have the wrong person they cannot guess again and must simply wait for the murderer to attack. Corpses can’t accuse anyone. If all but one innocent person is left ‘alive’ then the murderer is declared the winner.
Extracted from 101 Things For Kids To Do On A Rainy Day, by Dawn Isaac, published by Kyle Books, priced at £14.99. Photography by Rachel Warne. Buy from amazon.co.uk.