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10 Rainy-day Indoor Activities for Preschoolers & Young Children

Jan 12, 2023    |   Movement & Motor SkillsWinter

The past few weeks have been gloomy and rainy, which has required many of us to spend our days indoors. Young children need lots of opportunities to move their bodies and get their wiggles out throughout the day, and rainy weather can make it difficult to keep little ones engaged. In this article, you’ll find ten easy-to-set-up playful learning activities for young children to enjoy inside.    

1. Have a dance party

One of the easiest ways to get the wiggles out is with a dance party– and all you need is some music!  Playing a variety of different songs and music styles is a great way to introduce new music, rhythms, and movements to the children in your care. There are several free songs available on YouTube for young children to follow along with. You might enjoy some of the options below. 

You might even turn your dance party into a game by playing freeze dance. Turn on a song and encourage children to dance until the music stops. When you pause the music, everyone has to freeze! Freeze dance is a great way to encourage movement and strengthen large muscles while also practicing important cognitive skills like self-awareness, following instructions, and inhibitory control.

2. Make your own playdough

Making and working with playdough can bring lots of fun and learning to a rainy day.  Playdough is an open-ended activity that inspires creativity and imagination while providing an opportunity for children to engage and strengthen the small muscles that will later be used for writing. Making homemade playdough with children can also introduce science and math concepts as you measure ingredients together and compare ingredient textures.

To find a playdough recipe for the children in your care, check out this G2K article from the archives: 5 Ways to Make Playdough.

3. Get out the cardboard boxes and create!

image from Learning 4 Kids

Rainy days are great for open-ended activities that encourage children to use their creativity and imagination.  Find a few cardboard boxes that you are no longer using and encourage children to let their imagination flow! Boxes can be made into all kinds of things, such as a house, a train, ramps for toy cars, robots, tunnels, airplanes, and more!  Children will enjoy coloring and decorating the box creations, after getting adult help with cutting and assembling the boxes. If you are looking for some inspiration, check out the articles below. 

Another option is to use the box for a large-scale art project by offering the children a variety of crayons, stickers, markers, and colored pencils that they can use to create colorful art on each of the sides of the box.

4. Practice yoga

On a rainy day, yoga is a great way to incorporate movement while staying indoors. Yoga can also help children learn about the benefits of stretching their bodies and taking care of themselves. 

If you are interested in introducing yoga to your classroom, a good place to start is with books and videos that introduce simple, child-friendly yoga positions and basic yoga poses. You might enjoy the books Yoga Bug by Sarah Jane Hinder and The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by Teresa Power. Or, share one of these free videos: Dinosaur Yoga or Yoga Space Song.

5. Play Follow-the-Leader 

Follow-the-leader is an easy game to play anytime and anywhere! No materials or set-up is required. Simply stand in front of children and have them copy your movements. Encourage them to move their bodies by jumping up and down, touching their toes, and reaching up high. 

This activity is a great way for children to strengthen large muscles while practicing important cognitive skills, such as following instructions, taking turns, and imitating. 

6. Have a parade

A fun way to get children moving together on a rainy day is an indoor marching parade!  

If you have dress up clothes available in your classroom, encourage children to put on special outfits for the parade. 

For instruments, you can use actual toy instruments or household objects that can be turned into make-believe instruments.  You might even consider making your own instruments by using some of the ideas below: 

The children can add to the parade music by singing their favorite songs, with or without instruments.

7. Get creative with a rain-themed art project

If you’re looking for a creative way to keep little ones entertained, try a rain-themed rainy day art project that children can work on together. A few fun ideas are included below.

Each art project is open-ended, meaning that there are no step-by-step instructions or samples to follow, and no right or wrong way to create. These kinds of activities give children an opportunity to be creative and make something that is uniquely their own! 

8. Move like an animal

To get children moving, invite them to move like an animal!  You can turn this into a game by including lots of animals and animal movements.  For example, ask children to hop like a kangaroo, waddle like a penguin, prance like a pony, and more.  You can incorporate movement into storytime by pairing this activity with an animal-themed children’s book, such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? 

Not only does this activity encourage children to move their bodies, but it also helps them to practice early science and mathematical skills as they compare, contrast, and categorize different animals. Add to the game by encouraging the children to make the sounds that each animal makes, describe each animal, talk about where the animal lives– and any other animal topic that interests the children! 

9. Play with Balloons

Balloons are a great way to keep children entertained and engaged while staying indoors. You and the children can try to keep the balloons up in the air, or balloons can be used in a game of catch. If you’re looking for more creative games to play with balloons, you might be interested in some of the ideas below. 

10. Try indoor hopscotch

Hopscotch is a game that we usually save for outdoors, but it can be just as fun inside! Not only is hopscotch a great game for movement, but numbering the squares gives children a chance to practice counting and number recognition.

All you will need to set up this game are a few designated squares for children to hop on. This activity can easily be set up with painter’s tape, paper plates, or recycled cardboard. Here are a few ideas for inspiration: 

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