Rainy Day Outdoor Activities for Kids

Kids love to run in sprinklers and splash in fountains, so why not take advantage when water falls from the sky? These ideas for rainy day outdoor activities will get you started, but you're limited only by your imagination. Unless there's a thunderstorm! In that case, stay inside and wait for a rainy day that's lightning-free. Then you can go out and enjoy the raindrops falling on your head, the puddles to splash in, and more.

Hop, Skip, and Puddle Jump

Rainy day outdoor activities - kids in raincoats
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Suit up with old clothes, raincoats, and boots (or water shoes if it's warm out) and show those puddles who's boss. Regular rainy-day walks around your neighborhood or favorite park will help you locate the spots where the biggest, splashiest puddles usually form. Stomp!

Color Run

Make your own rainbow: Take sidewalk chalk outside during or after a rain. The moisture intensifies and blurs the colors for an effect that's very different from dry-land chalking.

For more colorful rainy fun, sprinkle a few drops of food coloring or tempera paint powder onto a paper plate (or ​other sturdy piece of paper). Take it outside and let the rain give you watercolors. You can swirl the liquid around to make designs. Bring the plate inside to dry, or press another piece of paper on top, then peel off to make a print.

On a warm, summer rainy day, dress kids in swimsuits or old clothes, then send them outside with washable or bathtub paint. They'll have purple legs, green arms, and polka-dotted hands in no time.

Float Your Boat

If your yard or park offers up puddles and trickles of moving water, you can float tiny toy boats (or twigs and leaves) and see how they travel. Challenge kids to create dams from found objects. If you can't find a good puddle, make your own with a large rimmed cookie sheet or plastic tub.

Drip, Drop, Click

Stash away an inexpensive or disposable waterproof camera for rainy days. Then you can take a walk and let kids snap away. They can think big and capture rain clouds or large puddles, or zero in on raindrops delicately posed on a leaf or spiderweb.

Make Mud Pies

Got dirt? Then on a rainy day, you'll have mud! Take old aluminum pie plates and other plastic containers outside for a mud-pie bake-off. Adorn with leaves, sticks, rocks, and even small (sturdy) toys or bits of recyclable household materials. Rinse them out and put them in the recycling bin when you're done cooking your pies.

Build a World

Does your child have a collection of plastic animals, dinosaurs, or other little figurines? Bring them out into the rain so they can explore puddles, mud, leaf piles, and more nature creations.

You can also bring bath toys or other water toys outside for rainy-day play. Clean them with warm, soapy water when you're done (or better yet, let kids do it).

Gauge the Rain

Get scientific and make a rain gauge to measure how much rainfall you're really getting. Install it outside and then check it regularly to see. You might even want to keep a log (this makes a great science fair project too).

Make Beautiful Music

Have kids help you scout out household items that can make music: pots, pans, spoons, plastic containers, even cardboard boxes. Take them outside and listen to how raindrops sound as they drop onto various surfaces. Kids may also want to try swirling water inside a pot or bucket or pouring from one container into or onto another.

Catch Frogs and Fish

Rainy days are perfect for fishing and frog-catching if you have access to a pond, stream, or lake. If not, take a walk on a paved sidewalk or trail and keep an eye out for stranded earthworms. Most kids love gently "rescuing" a worm from the pavement and returning it to the grass or dirt.

By Catherine Holecko
Catherine Holecko is an experienced freelance writer and editor who specializes in pregnancy, parenting, health and fitness.