11 ingenious ways to play outside on rainy days

Why should a little water ruin your chance to play outside?

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  • It may be raining, it may be pouring, but don't let rain keep your kids cooped up inside. While setting up a movie and popping some popcorn is a good way to spend the rainy day indoors, try playing outside in the rain. Yes, you will get wet, but that's part of the fun. When you see those storm clouds gathering, grab your list of rainy outdoor activities and your rain boots and head outside.

  • Chalk impressions

  • Sidewalk chalk gets a complete makeover when you draw in the rain. The colors blend into a watercolor effect and the rain naturally melts the colors together to create a totally new canvas. Keep a separate bin of sidewalk chalk to use out in the rain and see how creative you can be once those rainy days hit.

  • Excavation Station

  • Before a storm comes, freeze a few plastic dinosaurs or other small toys in a large container and cover with water. Stash it in the freezer until solid. When that storm arrives, take out your ice block and place it out in the rain. Bundle up your kids in rain jackets and boots and have them collect rainwater to pour over the ice block. Slowly but surely, that ice will melt revealing the frozen treasures hidden inside.

  • Gushing guesses

  • Grab several different-sized containers (a wide-mouthed jar, a narrow vase, small bowls, etc.) and rush them outside when it starts to rain. Have your kids try to guess how long it will take to fill up each container. Which one will fill up the fastest? Is it more important to have a narrow opening or a smaller capacity? Turn the rain into a mini lesson about volume.

  • Drizzling drops

  • You can always stay inside for an afternoon of art, but you can only paint with rain when it's stormy outside. Color different shapes or patterns on a piece of heavier white construction paper with watercolor paints or markers. Once the rain starts to fall, go outside and place your artwork underneath the drops. The raindrops will create a splatter pattern that you kids will love.

  • Cloudburst camping

  • When you see dark clouds start to gather, set up a tent in your backyard. Bring out blankets and board games and a lantern. When it starts to rain, run outside into your tent. Spend the day outside (but cozy and dry), passing the time telling stories and playing games.

  • Make a floodgate

  • Scout out a gutter that has a pretty steady stream of rainfall coming down and build your own dam. See how deep you can get it before the water wins out and the dam breaks.

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  • Drip-drop colors

  • Snag a paper plate and place a few drops of food coloring on the plate before letting the rain create a work of art. The raindrops create little streams of colors on your plate.

  • Rainfall racing

  • If the gutters by your house create a natural stream, build boats and have a race. See whose boats can float the furthest down the gutter, or whose boat can race down the stream the quickest.

  • Wetland adventures

  • If your rain boots haven't dried out from your last rainy adventure, take a drive and see how the rain affects places you see every day. If it's raining hard, it could raise the water levels of the stream or pond near your house or park.

  • Misty music

  • Big raindrops make it simple to create a symphony of sound. Place pie plates, metal strainers, pots and pans outside and spend some time listening to the rain fall — and your own little outdoor orchestra.

  • Raindrop races

  • After playing outside, have a raindrop race on a window. Mark a starting line and finish line with a post-it note, pick a raindrop and see whose choice wins.

  • When the forecast calls for rain, don't plan on spending your time indoors—there's loads to do outside.

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Emily is putting her English and Humanities degree to use editing and writing all over the world. Trying to see all 7 world wonders (while visiting as many countries as she can in between), Emily loves wandering alleyways, beautifully photographed food, stumbling upon impromptu flea and food markets. She can usually be found camera in hand, munching on a street food and never has her headphones out of reach.

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