You wake up, open the curtains and it’s absolutely pouring with rain outside.
So much for accurate weather forecasting!
You had planned to go to the park with your toddler and have a nice picnic.
But instead it looks like you need to put your creative hat on and come up with some activities to do at home.
As a father, I love taking my daughter out to different places. She gains some new experiences, and it’s just great to get out of the house.
However, for those rainy days, it can be tricky to come up with interesting activities to do at home.
Surely I’m not the only parent who struggles to find ways to entertain my daughter?
So I’ve done a bit of research and compiled a list of 30 different activities for you to try.
Boredom will be a thing of the past!
A great activity for developing motor skills.
You put Cheerios (or pasta tubes) onto a piece of string and make a necklace.
You could even add some colour to the Cheerios with some paint or food colouring to make things more interesting.
Cardboard Box Fort
I enjoy playing this game myself and I’m approaching 40!
I think back to that Friends episode when Joey makes a fort using furniture and Chandler joins in when he comes home from work.
For your toddler, they’ll love this game. Just assemble some cardboard boxes or other items of furniture and make your own fort, or castle.
My daughter particularly likes it if I’m a dinosaur trying to invade and capture her inside the fort!
This is a great family game which I sometimes play with my wife and daughter.
Just stack up some small skittles, roll the ball and see who scores the most. You can keep score using a pen and paper.
Hide and seek
All children love this. Just take turns to find a great hiding place!
Bricks and tongs
This game is great for developing motor skills.
- A large bowl or colander
- Some large tongs
- Some toy bricks
This is a pretty easy game to kill some time, but it’s surprisingly fun.
Your toddler has to use the tongs to pick up the bricks and put them in the bowl one by one.
Once they get better at it, you can make a game of it and see how many you can do in 30 seconds.
Simple enough really, but it’s quite a fun activity.
Make a lava lamp
I have to admit I haven’t tried this activity myself yet but it looks like fun.
- A plastic water bottle
- Some food colouring
- An Alka Seltzer
- Some vegetable oil
This idea is courtesy of No Guilt Mum. Check out their website for more details.
If you can’t have a picnic outside because of the weather, why not have it inside?
Just grab a blanket, some plates, cups, cutlery and some snacks and have a picnic in your living room!
Watch out for the mess though!
Dust with socks
I’m terrible with cleaning, and even worse with a toddler on the scene.
Every time I clean up, our place seems to get dirty within a few minutes!
So why not let your toddler help a bit?
Grab an old pair of socks and let her have a go at dusting!
My daughter seems to really enjoy doing this.
Float or sink?
This is an interesting activity which helps your toddler think about objects in different ways.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A large bowl
- A collection of different household items which can float or sink in water
Fill the bowl with water and then ask your toddler if a particular object will float or sink when you drop it in the bowl.
It’s quite fun. You could do it in the bathroom or kitchen sink instead.
Dress up in old clothes
My daughter loves trying on different dresses and shoes. Dig out some old clothes and have some fun wearing different outfits!
Make a snowy picture with cotton balls
Children love Christmas and seeing the snow. For a winter themed activity, create a snowy picture with cotton balls.
You can make snowmen, trees (with some cotton buds for the tree trunk), bushes and anything else which springs to mind.
Use your imagination!
Make your own binoculars
I discovered this one at a local arts and crafts activity session.
Here’s what you need
- 2 toilet roll tubes
- Colored paper
Pierce some small holes at one end of each toilet roll tube with the scissors and then let your child’s creativity take over. They can paint on the tubes, glue bits of paper to create their own binoculars. Once they’ve finished, feed the string through the holes and tie a knot so they can put the binoculars round their neck.
You can have a safari theme, explorer theme, or even pretend to be pirates!
Freeze when the music stops
My daughter loves to dance.
Her favourite songs at the moment seem to be ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift and ‘Moves Like Jagger’ by Maroon 5. Can’t say I’m a fan personally 🙂
Hopefully she’ll like some classic rock when she’s older!
One game she loves to play is to suddenly freeze when I stop the music.
She can get into all sorts of funny positions!
Play board games
You might think board games are only suitable for older children, but some simple board games can be a great way to pass the time.
Snakes and Ladders is one of Mia’s favourites!
Play card games
Recently, I played Snap with some princess playing cards with Mia. She absolutely loved it and we played it for a good 20 minutes.
You could also turn some cards over and try to find a matching pair. This is a great game for improving memory.
Do some puzzles
Some simple jigsaw puzzles are a great way to spend some time for toddlers.
I enjoy seeing Mia work things out. It’s often tricky at first, but then you see things click once she’s got the first few pieces right.
Play Simon Says
Ah yes. I remember playing this game as a child.
You give your toddler a series of actions using ‘Simon Says’ before the phrase.
e.g “Simon says, stand on one leg”. “Simon says, clap your hands”.
However, you try to trick them by sometimes saying an action without ‘Simon says’.
And if they still do what you say, they lose!
Let your child have a go to…
I try to encourage Mia to tidy up after her after every activity (although I sometimes forget).
You can make an activity out of it, if there’s quite a bit to do, especially if there are lots of toys on the carpet which need to be put away.
Watch a bit of TV
I know. I know. Everyone says too much TV is bad, but a little bit each day won’t hurt.
As my wife and I both work full time, we sometimes need 15-20 minutes to get ready for work, or to prepare the evening meal. If Mia can’t occupy herself with something during these moments, we’ll let her watch a couple of cartoons.
Take photos with your phone
We recently went to Crete on holiday and out of the blue, Mia asked if she could take a picture of me and my wife together. It was quite cute really, although she struggled to actually do it on my wife’s iPhone.
However, it got me thinking that taking some photos can be a great way for your children to learn how to capture the moment. You can take some pictures in your garden, at the park or on some special days out.
If you’re at home, you can take pictures of toys and other household objects.
Edible finger paint
This is a messy but very fun sensory activity for your toddler to try.
Here’s what you’ll need
- Some flour
- Food colouring
Check out Teaching Mama for detailed instructions.
Kids love blowing bubbles, or having you do it and they chase after them.
So why not make some yourself?
You can do it with soap or washing up liquid in the bathroom or kitchen.
It’s quite satisfying when you can make a large one!
This is a messy activity, so make sure your toddler is wearing some old clothes and a bib.
Just squirt some whipped cream into a bowl or a plate and let their imagination run wild.
You could use some other objects to put in the whipped cream such as coloured beads, pasta shapes etc.
This activity occupied my daughter for ages.
Rainbow spaghetti noodles
This is another great sensory activity to try.
Cook some spaghetti, drain and put it into some small bowls. Add some food colouring and leave it for a few minutes.
Your toddler can then play with some rainbow coloured spaghetti!
Some ideas you could try:
- You could draw a head and let them add the hair.
- You could let them use the spaghetti to create their own picture
- You could help them create their own rainbow (if you’ve got all the colours)
Make faces with fruit and veg
One creative way to get your toddler to eat more fruit and veg is for them to have some fun with them.
Create a face using bananas, pieces of apple, grapes, cucumber, or anything else you’ve got in the fridge or fruit bowl
We all know children love playing with sand.
But if you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, flour is a great replacement.
Pour some into a tray and let them play use the flour as well as their toys.
A great way to spend some time indoors!
I’m going to take the credit for this as I came up with it myself.
It’s great for motor skills and for creativity.
- A colander
- Some spaghetti
- Some plain white stickers
Take the colander and ask your toddler to put pieces of spaghetti through the holes. Try and push it all the way through so it comes out the other side. If that’s tricky just use one hole. After a few goes you start to get the spiky hedgehog effect!
Then take a white sticker, cut out some circular shapes, draw some eyes and stick it on the colander
Voila. One hedgehog (sort of).
I’m not the greatest cook, but I also don’t have much time for preparing a nice meal.
However, rather than putting on some cartoons or finding another way to keep your toddler entertained, have them help you with the cooking.
Keep it simple of course, but there are probably some things they can help you with. Preparing the table, beating some eggs, spreading some margarine on some bread etc.
My daughter helped make some fairy cakes with my mum and she loved it.
She helped beat the eggs and putting the cake mix on the baking tray.
Saucepan drum set
If you want your son or daughter to get into music, start with the drums.
Grab some saucepans, wooden spoons and other utensils and create an awesome drum solo.
A loud, but fun activity.
Probably not one for the evening if you have neighbours close by!
Kids grow up so fast, and so does their capacity to do things.
Mia now helps me any my wife by putting clothes in the washing machine, and taking them out.
She’ll put things in the rubbish bin as well.
Toddlers can help you in all sorts of ways round the home.