This article first appeared on Very Well Family.
Don’t let a little precipitation keep your kids parked on the couch all day: Try these rainy day activities, games, and outings that encourage physical fitness. They’ll keep boredom complaints to a minimum too. (Plus, there are lots of ideas for teens and tweens too.)
1. Play Treasure Hunters
This is an activity that requires a little advance parental prep but is always a big hit with kids (so much so that you don’t even need the rain for it to be effective!). Stash clues around the house directing kids to hunt for a hidden prize. Adjust the clues’ difficulty based on the ages of your kids: Use picture cues for little ones and tricky puns for older children, for example.
Play basketball with a soft foam or sponge ball, or just wad up some newspaper; the hoop can be any basket or receptacle (either hung on the wall or resting on the floor). Have kids shoot from different parts of the room or in different ways, in an indoor version of HORSE. Basketball not your speed? Try indoor bowling.
3. Let’s Put on a Show!
Challenge a group of kids to stage a talent show or play. Give them a theme, a few characters, or some opening lines to get them started if they need a little help. How about “Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Rainy Days, a princess was born with webbed duck feet.” Only one or two kids to entertain? Puppets to the rescue!
4. Take a Fit Field Trip
Hit an indoor pool (if you don’t have a gym or community center membership, check hotels—they sometimes sell day passes), ice or roller rink, climbing wall, bowling alley, or inflatables play space to blow off steam.
5. Make a Sand-Free Sandbox
Use a large plastic bin, dishpan, or aluminum-foil roasting pan as your box. Fill with rice or oatmeal and stock with scoops, funnels, spoons, toy cars, a plastic tea set—whatever suits your child’s interests.
6. Let’s Go to the Videotape!
Have any fitness videos? Break them out and do them together. If you’re bored with your selection, see what’s offered on YouTube or an online streaming service. You can also hit the library or try an app.
Another option: Challenge your kids to choreograph their own routines, then film them with your smartphone.
7. Teach Your Dog Some New Tricks
Dog training keeps both kids and pets busy and challenged. Pick up a simple book of ideas, such as Puppy Training for Kids (buy from Amazon) by Colleen Pelar, to help them get started. Also, try some ideas for incorporating dogs into home workouts.
Suit up with boots, raincoats, and warm socks and get outside—you won’t melt. Splash in the puddles. Belt out “Singin’ in the Rain” while you twirl your umbrella. Do your best impressions of ducks, frogs, and fish. When you come inside, swap chilly rain gear for a warm bath or a cup of soup.
9. Set up a Rainy-Day Construction Site
Break out the couch cushions, old blankets, hula hoops, and cardboard boxesand have the kids build a fort or an obstacle course. Or try a fort-building kit, which comes with foam rods, nylon sheets, and clamps to hold them all together. You can make a clubhouse, an airplane, a castle, a tractor-trailer, and more.
Blow up some balloons and play keep-away or “volleyball.” Or use paper fans to play a version of table tennis: Use your fan to create gusts of air to blow your balloon across the table towards an opponent—get it past her to score a point. (Remember, the scraps from popped balloons are a choking hazard, so take precautions if you have small children.)
Painting a large mural or pounding clay works your child’s muscles too. Spread out a big sheet of paper (in the garage or basement if you can!) and try different ways to paint, from spattering to footprints to rolling old balls in paint and then on paper. Messy? Yes! But good for lots of laughs too.
Play hide and seek or charades (no supplies required!). Stock your toy shelf with indoor games and toys that encourage kids to move, from classics like Twister to newer hits like the Nintendo Wii U. Or try reading health and fitness books for kids that encourage active play and other healthy choices.