So here we are in the middle of summer, and we’re trying our best to keep true to the Dr. Rick Blog summer motto, “It’s time for slowing down, not shutting down.”
We’re keeping our kids’ brains active. We’re reading. We’re sneakily doing some math . We’re expanding our vocabulary. We’re improving our spelling. We’re even writing a bit. And we’re reading even more .
We’re also outdoors playing, keeping our bodies as active as our brains. Hop scotching, hiding and seeking, running, hiking, swimming, and learning new sports.
Sometimes it rains, though, and we adults look for ideas to keep the kids busy and their brains active indoors. Video games are fun, easy, and for many kids the first default choice for spare time. But video games do not make a good steady diet, and for our youngest kids it’s best to limit their time on these games.
I’ve asked lots of parents and teacher friends for their suggestions for rainy day summer fun. I was stunned at their creativity and tons of ideas. Some even gave me a website or two to look at, which I’ll pass on to you. If you have some of your own, please share them with us.
Here’s a sample of what they gave me, plus a few of my own. Note how often the word “together” appears.
- Play in it together. Simple, right? If it’s raining, go out in the daggone rain. Dress for it, of course – bathing suits, galoshes, funny rain hats, swim goggles for silliness – but go ahead and get wet, splash, and play. A couple of parents even told me about “bath crayons,” which kids can “paint” themselves with and let the rain wash off. Who knew? (I don’t need to say this idea is off if there’s thunder or lightning, right?)
- Read together. You certainly didn’t think I’d forget reading, did you?
- Watch a favorite movie together. Let them choose one of their own. Next time, you choose one of yours. Make popcorn.
- Make a pillow fort together. Simple pleasures never go out of style.
- Go to a free museum or science center together. There are plenty to choose from . If you can’t get to one, virtual museum trips can be fun, too.
- Put on a show together. Dramatize a favorite scene from the book you’re reading together. Make costumes and backgrounds together. Video it. Send to Grandma.
- Play hide and seek together. Is there a happier sound than a toddler who’s just been “found” after an exaggerated, where-can-he-be search? With the older kids, ask about their favorite games in phys ed class in school. If they don’t have phys ed class in school, find out why not.
- Sing together. Have them teach you their favorite songs from music class in school. If they don’t have music class in school, find out why not.
- Draw, color, paint with water colors or finger paints together. Put up a wall of butcher paper and make a mural in their bedroom of favorite games, book characters, people, food, or animals. Ask them about their favorite projects in art class in school. If they don’t have art class in school, find out why not.
- Dance together. Make up silly dances. Teach them your favorite dances from when you were a kid.
- Play board games together. Sometimes the games you don’t plug in are the “funnest.” They encourage togetherness.
- Do jigsaw puzzles together. More happy memories in the making.
- Talk together. Talk about fun stuff. Tell family stories. Talk about sports, books, movies, favorite things – kids love to talk about their favorite things. Listen to them. Kids tell us a lot when we’re talking informally.
- Write a story together. Imitate a favorite story or character. Write an alternate ending to a favorite story. Write a prequel or sequel to a favorite story.
- Have a scavenger or treasure hunt together. Write funny clues to the “treasure.”
- Make word searches together. Use favorite things as your themes. Sports, favorite foods, heroes, cartoon characters.
- Make a bird feeder together. Here’s how.
- Bake cookies together. Or any other kitchen fun. Make bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwiches (yum), crock-pot vegetable soup, or potato salad for the picnic.
- Keep it fun. Light-and-informal is the best approach for summertime, rain or shine.
- Check out other ideas. Here’s one of my favorite websites for family fun.
So, let it rain. As Annie tells us, the sun’ll come out tomorrow. And we’ll have fun today in the meantime!