Skip the television and video games when your youngsters are stuck inside on a rainy day and fill the time with engaging activities that will banish boredom for hours. Whether your children are crafty, quiet or energetic, you can tailor the activity to suit their interests -- and sneak in a little learning, too.
Create a story together, taking turns coming up with the next sentence or paragraph, or have your children write a manuscript instead and act out the play together on camera. Your children can write a miniature newspaper about all that’s happening at school and home. Give your youngsters an inexpensive digital camera and show them how to work the techno toy. Let them take turns shooting photos, and then transfer them to the computer. Have them choose a few to print for the family room wall. Experiment with art mediums; rubbing leaves, coins and other textured materials with crayons or pastels. Paint with sponges, potato wedges and string instead of paintbrushes. If your kids are feeling crafty, make sculptures from chenille sticks, decorate picture frames, make salt dough ornaments or build a cardboard or craft stick castle.
Bake sweet treats together, letting your children pour, whip and mix. From an early age, talk about how to make healthy choices when making sweets, such as replacing oil with applesauce in a bran muffin recipe, or opting for carrot muffins instead of chocolate chip. Make it special by having your children rename each treat -- the sillier, the better.
Prepare meals together, helping your children learn to follow recipes and talking about healthy and unhealthy food choices. Make personal-size pizzas together, or turn an ordinary waffle or pancake breakfast into a creative venture, working together to turn each one into a unique face with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes and curly apple or carrot shavings.
Incorporate simple, fun activities to help your children expend some energy inside. You can hide toys or sticker prizes around the house for a scavenger hunt, make an indoor hopscotch game, turn the living room into an obstacle course or play a game of freeze dance. Use housework as an opportunity to exercise and bond. Separate laundry by tossing it into baskets or race to put the clean laundry away. Set a timer to see who can put away toys or dust windowsills fastest; the winner gets to choose the next chore to tackle. Make a board game from a piece of cardboard and a couple dice with a different chore on each side. Roll the dice and race to complete the task in order to move along the board.
Fill a small bookshelf with a variety of different story books and place a beanbag chair or some blankets nearby so your kids can cozy up in their “book nook” for a quiet reading session. Add a puppet theater or felt storyboard so they can incorporate some imagination into each tale. Prepare for indoor days ahead of time with a variety of quiet activities to keep your children occupied when your attention is needed on other tasks. Fill transparent bins with activities, such as building blocks, puzzles, coloring books and crayons, magnetic dress-up dolls, modeling clay and look-and-find books. You can separate each activity into a different bin and label each one, or surprise your children by including an assortment of different activities in each bin. Let them choose a bin and peek inside to find out what they will be doing today.