I’m finally feeling like we’ve made it through another Chicago winter and can embrace the springtime! It’s so exciting to see all the greenery popping up and even the daffodils already blooming around zoo grounds. But feeding that greenery and new growth will be those welcome or sometimes not-so-welcome April showers. As caregivers, we have to have an array of rainy day activities that we can bust out when you stuck inside all day due to rain; I’m especially partial to things like indoor fort-building and reading (our spring break campers last week made an epic fort on one of said rainy days). But a rainy day can also be a great opportunity to get outside and explore nature when everything has a different feel, smell and energy. Here are 5 ways that you and your child can embrace the rain this spring:
1. Get all decked out and play in the rain! As you may have noticed, many of your LEAPers love to put on bright rain coats and science goggles, even when they are indoors. And it’s even more fun to put all that on- rain coats, boots, goggles, umbrellas, ponchos- and actually go outside and put them to use. Especially on the warmer rainy days, walking in the mud, jumping in puddles, and exploring your neighborhood in the rain are a great time.
2. Make music with the rain! Set up various hollow containers just outside a door or window and listen to different sounds they make. Things like upside down coffee cans, aluminum pie tins and plastic buckets will all produce different sounds. Listen to the sounds and talk about why they sound different. Or join in on the rain music with your own instruments.
3. Create art in the rain! Manipulating a familiar material in a new way is always exciting for toddlers, so using rain to change a painting can be a blast. Using tempera paint and thick paper, have your child paint a few big splotches on the paper (which is pretty standard at this age anyway). Then take a lap outside with your child holding their painting flat either out in front of them or over their head. Come back inside and check out how the rain affected the picture and why it might have happened.
4. Dig in, during or after the rain! Wet dirt and sand create a whole different digging experience that allows for better building and forming. Wet dirt also brings up worms and other insects that are fun to explore. In a light rainshower or right after the rain stops, get outside with shovels, buckets and magnifying glasses to play in the mud.
5. Search for rainbows! When the rain finally clears, get outside right away to look for rainbows. Bring prisms and binoculars out with you to view the rainbow through a different lens. Talk about how many colors you can see. Then pull out some art supplies and draw rainbows together, whether on paper or on the sidewalk with chalk.
I hope these activities will help you turn those gloomy rainy days into fun opportunities for nature play!