Ever plan out a fun day outdoors and then here comes the rain to ruin everything? Especially when you have toddler, inclement weather can be a terrible start to the day. However, did you know that rainy days can be an awesome sensory adventure for your little one? Here I go throwing some occupational therapy jargon in there…”sensory”? Sensory meaning some or all of the 5 senses are being stimulated by an activity. Babies and toddlers learn SOOOO much through sensory play, by way of touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste. As an occupational therapist, we’re always looking at different play activities as a opportunities for a child to explore their senses. Rainy days are great for this! Here are some ideas for activities that take advantage of a rainy day:
- Listening to the rain- Just sit and listen to the sound of the rain against the roof. Have your child try his/her best impression of what they hear, like “pat-pat-pat”, “pitter-patter”, “click clack”. To make it even more interesting, get out some pots and tupperware from your kitchen. Put them outside and turn them upside down, have your child listen to the symphony of different sounds the rain makes when it hits these “musical instruments”.
2. Look at the raindrops on the window- The raindrops can make such a pretty mosaic on the window that can really captivate a little learner. Have him/her count how many drops they see, or point out which is the biggest drop on the window. If the raindrops are running down the pane, have them trace it with their finger for some good hand-eye coordination exercise.
3. Collect the rain- Place a small container outside to collect the rain as it falls. Chose a container that is pretty narrow, so the increase in water can really be detected. If it’s raining all day, keep having them check back to see how much water has fallen into the container, and mark it with fun colors. If they’re able to listen to the rain drop into the container, have them mimic the sound that they hear.
4. Play in the rain- Sure it’s a little messy, but it’s GREAT for sensory play. Some kids love the feeling of rain falling onto their face and arms. Have them catch some raindrops on their tongue. If they have tactile defensiveness (i.e. they don’t like the way some things feel, like water on their skin or wet clothes), this might be a good opportunity to slowly densensitize them. Have them stand underneath an overhang or umbrella and stretch their arm out to catch the rain on their hand. Then have them step out a little further, and a littler further. You’ll be surprised how far they’ll go 😉
5. Find the rain creatures- we all know that worms get flooded out of their homes when it rains, and kids love it! If you really want them to get some sensory play with nature, have them gently touch a slimy worm! Just make sure they don’t squish, step on them or pull them apart…
6. After the rain- go outside and check out the “aftermath”. Look at the leaves with drops on them. Have them feel the wet grass with their hands or feet. Have them look around and point out what looks different after the rain. Talk about how dirt turns to mud and let them feel it or even stomp in the mud and feel it squish under their shoe! Again, yes, it’s messy, but it’s great exposure and learning opportunity.
Find a rainbow- just stop and stare at the beauty of nature. How many colors can they see?
Sing about the rain– How many rain songs do you know? Rain Rain Go Away, Itsy Bitsy Spider, It’s Raining It’s Pouring, Singing In the Rain (great time to YouTube Gene Kelly’s dance number)
So this just goes to show how much fun a rainy day can actually be for a kiddo. Hope your next rainy day brings more ideas and adventures! Have any other good rainy day activities? Share them in the comments below!