Sunday, 2 May 2010

Free or Low Cost Rainy Day Play Ideas


Pasta Jewellery: Thread macaroni/penne etc. on cotton or string for necklaces, bracelets, crowns. Paint first if you want.

Pasta pictures: Draw simple picture. Coat cardboard/stiff paper with a layer of glue and start sticking.

Pasta music: fill jars, paper cups, saucepans (any containers) with pasta and shake. If you use two paper cups taped together you can decorate the outside as well.

Pasta animals. Use glue to stick pasta to rocks, empty boxes, cotton reels, cardboard tubes, etc and turn them into animals or other creatures.

Pasta race: Fill spoons with raw pasta and have an 'pasta and spoon' race. Winner has the most left in their spoon after hopping down the course

Pasta pick up sticks: Use wide spaghetti instead of sticks
Shops with a twist

Help your children to dig out any play money you might have or make some coins and notes out of cardboard and paper. You could also make cash cards and a machine to slide them down. Then empty out your entire kitchen cupboard or pantry onto the dining table. Let the kids arrange it into a supermarket and play shops. Once the items have been purchased the children bring them to you and you can put them back in the cupboard/pantry.  By the end of the game you should have satisfied kids and a kitchen cupboard all spring cleaned.

Indooor picnic

With my three children we have rainy-day picnics. We decorate small cardboard boxes and we use them for individual picnic baskets. They decorate their own boxes with their names and stickers and paint, then pack a special indoor picnic in each box and we put on a CD and lay out the picnic blanket in the lounge. It’s especially good to invite all the teddy bears and dolls in the house and sit each one around the edge of the blanket because they can then stay on to listen to an impromptu concert or watch my daughters dancing to the music taking turns to entertain each other.

Paper children

Either have some large peices of paper handy to draw around your children or draw smaller versions of them.  Cut out the child shapes then dress them up using lots of glue, coloured paper, fabric, wool, straw, string etc.

Cardboard Boxes

Most supermarkets have cardboard boxes that they will let you have free of charge.  Take a few boxes and let their imagination run wild. My three girls have made cars, trains, royal carriages, boats, robots, palaces, and an enormous amount of other creations out of cardboard boxes, all for free.

Create your own Board Games

Board games are a great way to while away a few hours, but if your children are tired of the games you have at home, why not get them to make their own. Give them a large sheet of poster card, some felt pens, old magazines, scissors and glue, and let them go to it. They’ll need to create their own rules, cards, counters and dice, you’ll be amazed by what they come up with. The whole family can take turns playing each other's games.

Oh So Beautiful

Rummage through your makeup drawer to find some bits and pieces you’re happy to let go, and then set up a beauty salon for your children. You can be the stylist, or let them take turns putting on make-up, nail polish, and doing each other's hair. Before you know it they will have created a whole game complete with a receptionist and a diary for bookings.

Write a Letter

Grandparents love getting letters! Have your child write a letter to Gran and Grandad, or even a friend from school. If you have friends or family in another town or country, you could set up a pen pal system, so that writing letters becomes something your child does every rainy day.

Dress Up

My children have a tote full of dress up clothing. I did it inexpensively charity shops, Poundland, and sewing my own.  I pick up things such as jewellery, hats, sun glasses, badges, fancy dress costumes and other articles of interest.  Many times I save new things to add on a rainy day or another day they have nothing to do.  It generates new interest and hours of play.  We also have theme boxes. There is a fairy box, a princess box, an emergency services box (fire fighter, police officer, etc) and a costumes in progress box.  There's enough of a mix of costumes and accessories to inspire their imagination and creativity.

Driving Mat

A huge poster board or cardboard is great to let your little ones paint train tracks, roads and rivers on.  It can be any size you like.  My girls painted lakes, roads, airports trees and so on.  You can use crayons or felt pens instead or as well as paint.  They had a really great time making this one rainy day and still enjoy using it.  When they've finished playing with it I just roll it up and put it away.  Card board cartons can be saved and painted to make houses and shops to place on their driving mat. 

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