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Rain or Shine Outdoor Activities for Children and Families

Updated on March 6, 2013

Fun in the Sun or Rain!

Summer can be an unpredictable season. Here in Vancouver it almost seemed like it rained the whole summer through last year. We had the odd sunny day, but I'm definitely not expecting it to get much better. So I brainstormed a bunch of ideas for activities to do in the rain or sun that way everyone can enjoy the season no matter the weather. On the upside preschool children often don't think of the weather when it comes to going outside and having fun. Most of them love to go outside, and will roam around, explore, and make the best of things wither it's pouring rain, or steaming hot. Plus, there are so many differences in the outdoors between weather changes that children can be encouraged to notice. Thinking back on my own childhood I can remember loving rainy days as much as I loved the sunny ones. On a rainy day I would go puddle jumping, or search through the backyard as the worms came out of the ground. Go for a walk in the forest and notice the difference in how much more scent nature had in the rain. In the sun I would notice how more flowers opened up in the sun, chase butterflies, and play in the mud (which of course my parents never had fun cleaning up). I always made the best of things, and always found something to do. We never had video games to play with, or t.v. to watch. We did have hundreds of beta movies, but they were only interesting for so long. When it came to what I loved to do the most it was being outside and exploring my surroundings. There's always something to do no matter what it's like outside. Even if your not the outdoorsy type of person I would hope this encourages you to get your shoes on and head out the door. My best memories come from the times I spent with my family outside the house. Even if it was in our own backyard.

Go for a walk!

Head down to the beach! In the sun you'll find the tide has gone down, and there are tons of washed up things to find. In the rain you can explore how the tide rises, and how smaller ocean life has found refuge near the shore. Beach walks are great!
Head down to the beach! In the sun you'll find the tide has gone down, and there are tons of washed up things to find. In the rain you can explore how the tide rises, and how smaller ocean life has found refuge near the shore. Beach walks are great!
Check out a local forest! In the sun you'll find lots of flowers opened up, and even do some bird spotting. In the rain you can point out how the smell is so much richer, and how the trees cover us like umbrellas in the rain.
Check out a local forest! In the sun you'll find lots of flowers opened up, and even do some bird spotting. In the rain you can point out how the smell is so much richer, and how the trees cover us like umbrellas in the rain.

What's your perfect weather?

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10 Things to do in the Sun, and 10 things to do in the Rain.

Sunny Day Ideas

  1. Go for a walk, and explore your surroundings. Let your child play, and have fun. They'll usually always think of something to do outdoors even without any encouraging for ideas. You might even want to simply walk through your neighborhood, and talk about the beautiful gardening done by your neighbors. Children will quickly take notice, and probably be very opinionated on what they like about it.
  2. Pick some wild flowers and make a bouquet. Children love pretty things, and if they can keep something from outside they love it even more. Explore a beach and collect seashells to place at the bottom of your vase, or even some pretty rocks. You can even collect some ferns, and twigs and make a green bouquet.
  3. Make a bugtarium. Dig in a garden or in a spot outside, but check to make sure it's safe to dig there before you start. Encourage your child to break up the dirt and see what they can find. Collect some of the worms and bugs you find in the ground to take indoors for your child to observe as the bugs eat, wander around, and even lay eggs.They'll have plenty of fun exploring a bug's life with this simple idea.
  4. Go for a picnic. Children will love this idea, and you can either go to a local park, a beach, or even your own backyard. The fact that your not eating at home will be enough to make it a fun experience for everyone.
  5. Pitch a tent in your yard. Fill a cooler with food, and drinks, and even light a barbeque to make the experience more like camping. Find some campfire stories to tell the children, and make sure you got some flashlights with good batteries so when the sun goes down you can play some flashlight tag.
  6. On a partially cloudy day you can go into a local forest and play a game I like to call, chasing sunbeams. It's almost like tag. When the sun is shining through the trees you run to sunny spot and your safe from being tagged. When the sun goes behind a cloud and the sunbeam disappears you have to run around until the sun comes back out or you'll get tagged.
  7. Have a water balloon battle. Sunny days are great for this as you'll stay warm yet have lots of fun getting wet, and making a mess. Generally I wouldn't encourage using guns, but water balloons are so not eco-friendly so in that case it would be a better idea to use water guns, or small buckets with a large basin already filled up to fill your small buckets up.
  8. Grab some sidewalk chalk, and trace your shadow. You can even trace shadows of other things. Make some hop scotch games, and twist them around to make them more interesting than a straight one. Draw two lines that are so narrow you have to walk one foot in front of the other, and invite your child to walk between the lines.
  9. Paint with water. Make some neat water murals, and watch as they evaporate in the sun. Use sidewalks, walls, trees, rocks, and many different things as your canvas. Add color to the water with food coloring if you'd like the picture to still show after it's dried, and discover how the picture changes as the water evaporates.
  10. Have a pine cone race. Find a small bridge over a stream or river, and drop two different types of pine cones on one side of the bridge to see which one floats to the other side first. You can even have another type of race by setting up 3 small twigs side by side like race tracks, and letting a couple bugs go at one end to see which one gets the the other end first.

Rainy Day Ideas

  1. Go puddle jumping. Put on your muddy buddies, and rain boots. Head outside and go for a walk while jumping in every puddle you come across. I often notice parents stopping their children from having this kind of fun, but if you've planned for it then children will definitely enjoy it.
  2. Race some paper boats down a street stream. Find a road with a small stream going down a hill while it's raining really hard, and make sure the drain it flows into has a grate to catch anything else from going into it. Head up to the top of the hill and let two paper boats go down the stream. Follow them along the sidewalk to see which one reaches the drain grate first. Make sure you talk about looking out for vehicles before starting this activity with your child.
  3. Have a rain bottle race. Put 2 different colors of food coloring in a couple bottles, and set them outside in the rain. Come back to them a few hours later and see whose is filling up faster. Try bottles of different sizes. You can even use canning jars, or buckets.
  4. Make some raindrop music. Place some metal containers upside down on the ground. Use different sizes to have them make different sounds as rain drops onto the containers. Try wood, plastic, glass, and many different materials to see how it sounds as the rain falls on it.
  5. Go field sliding. Find a ball field or park with some hills on it and run and slide on the ground on your bellies, backs, or bottoms down the hill in the wet grass. When it rains it makes almost any hill into a wet slide, and children will love this.
  6. Go worm hunting. When it rains worms will tend to rise to the surface of the ground, and especially at night. Head outside with a flashlight and see if you can spot some worms in the grass.
  7. Take a shower in the rain. On a warm rainy day your children will love this idea. Put on some bathing suits, and head outside with a bit of shampoo. Get soaked and wash off in the rain.
  8. Build a river. Grab a big sheet of plastic and some pipes. curve the sheet so it catches rain and directs it to the end of a pipe where it will stream through the pipe to create a small stream at the other end. The longer you make the plastic sheet the more powerful your stream will flow.
  9. Make some rain paintings. Put some drops of food coloring on some paper and set them outside the rain to see how the rain shapes the colors across the paper. Take it indoors to let it dry.
  10. Go rain dancing. Open a window and play some music through the window while you go outside with your children, and dance in the rain. Try different movements. Fall like the rain, spin like the wind, sway like a tree, and even squirm like a worm in the grass.


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      I really love your suggestion to take a shower in the rain. What fun! Over the years, I have spent many hours outside with my child, and now grandchildren, drawing with chalk on the sidewalks. Best activity ever! Voted up.


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