Rainy-Day Activities for the Whole Family

The good times don’t have to end just because of a little rain. These activities make it easy to enjoy fun and games—regardless of the weather. 

Great skates! Who says you need actual skates to go skating? Just place an empty shoebox on each foot, then glide around the room to some upbeat songs. Your kids will have a blast, and you won’t believe how much exercise you’re getting. Crank up some Top 40 tunes to feel like you’re really at a skating rink.

Pitch a tent. So what if your cozy campsite just happens to be in the family room. Spread blankets across chairs, side tables, and couches. Then equip your pretend tent with games, flashlights, and a snack or a picnic lunch. 

Bag of tricks. Go to your bedrooms, kitchen, family room, or basement, and place five things in a paper bag. Then use the items in the bag as the inspiration for a play or story. The challenge: making sure each and every one of the items is included in the plot.

Water play. When all else fails, make going outdoors the game.  Get out your most serious rain gear—including rain jackets, waterproof pants, and rubber boots—and go puddle jumping or frog hunting with your kids. See how long you can stay out there without wanting to run back inside. 

Off to the races!  Use a couple of rolls of masking tape to create a giant play racetrack for your kids’ toy cars, boats, trucks, and airplanes. Have the kids place the toys at a starting line on the track, and delight as they race them to the finish time and time again.

 

How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up Their Rooms!

Your kids might act like they don’t hear you when you ask them to pick up their rooms, but we do! Try these four strategies, each of which is designed to make the cleanup process less of an ordeal—and a lot more fun.

Show them a good time.  When you’re dealing with grade-schoolers children, make cleanup feel like a game, not a chore. Put on your child’s favorite music or make up a fun song that you sing only when it’s cleanup time, then throw in some silly dance moves as you put toys and shoes and books in their proper places. And, remember, small rewards—say a trip to the local ice cream parlor—can work wonders in terms of motivation.

Put everything in its place. Once a month or seasonally, help your child tame the mountain of clutter inside his or her room. Make three piles: Keep, Donate, Toss. Have plastic bins or colorful canvas boxes on hand to store the keeps. If your child can’t decide whether to toss or donate, create a fourth bin labeled Storage. Date this box, then store it in the attic or garage with an agreement that anything in it can be reclaimed within a year. After that, you and your child can donate the contents to a local charity together.

Make the closet cleanup friendly. Make it easier for little kids to rehang their shirts, robes, and jackets by installing a lower hanging rod and thick plastic hooks. Designate specific areas (bins under the bed, peg rails along the wall) for storing everyday items like sneakers and backpacks. Organize play clothes and undergarments in easy-to-reach dresser drawers, so small-fry can put clothes away themselves.

Change the sheets together. Launder your linens, then enlist your kids’ help in making the bed. Flap the sheet over their heads (a guaranteed laugh generator), and then show them how to tuck in the corners and pull the cases over the pillows. Bonus: Once you’re done, snuggle in bed with your kids and read a favorite picture book.

 

Messy Activities for Kids That Clean Up Easy

Ready to have fun? Get started now with these simple activities and arts and crafts projects. They'll keep your little ones busy and happy, and cleanup is a snap.

Whip up a “dirt” dessert. Making food is an activity kids love. Let them do as much as they can: in a large bowl, beat one 4-ounce package of chocolate instant pudding mix with 2 cups cold milk for 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in one 8-ounce container of frozen whipped topping, thawed, along with half a cup of finely crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. Divide among several small drinking glasses or mugs and top with more crushed cookies to form a thick layer of “dirt,” plop a few gummy worms on top and finish by sticking in a small silk flower. Messy clothes? Launder with a detergent that has an amazing scent that will rev your mood long after the fun is over.

Pick up some rocks. In this activity, kids will get to try out a twist on normal painting. Gather, then wash and dry a few baseball-sized rocks. Using non-toxic acrylic paint, let the kids create whatever design inspires them. Once dry, add a coat of clear, non-toxic varnish to seal the paint, let dry again, then display their masterpieces on your deck or in the garden. Viva la art!

Have a good old puddle stomp. Slickers, rain boots, a warm summer sun shower—let them go for it. Super size the fun by cranking some tunes and joining in the wet mess. And be sure to video tape the moment because no question, it’s going to be a keeper.

5 Driveway Games for Kids

Happily, all you need to get your children started playing these simple driveway games is chalk and a few inexpensive items, like bean bags and a cardboard box! And cleaning is a cinch. We promise.

Beanbag toss. To play this simple driveway game, draw a box on the driveway or sidewalk with chalk, then give your kids an equal number of beanbags (assign colors to each). Whoever can toss the most bags in the box wins. Up the ante by having them each take two steps back before starting another round.

Hopscotch. For this classic driveway games, use chalk to draw a hopscotch grid on your driveway. Have your kids toss a stick into a square and start hopping to retrieve it. Or forget the stick and let them hop forward, back, on one foot—let them get as silly (and tired) as they want.

Hit the penny. Draw two parallel chalk lines six feet apart and place a penny between them. Take turns throwing a ball at the penny. Give one point for hitting the penny and three for flipping it over. Play to 21 points.

Driveway dice. Cover an empty, square box with blank paper and add dots so that it looks like a giant die. With sidewalk chalk, draw a winding path with steps along the way, then label one end “Start” and the other “Finish.” Label every step with a number like “+ 2” or “– 4.” To play, roll the die, walk to your space, and then do the math: If you rolled a 6 and land on 2, you say “6 + 2 = 8” and take the two steps forward (or if it’s a –2, two steps back). That’s one turn. See who gets to the finish line first!

Freestyle fun. Drawing whatever you want on the driveway is probably the most low-tech, and most fun, activity there is for a child. Let your kids create whatever they wish. And if their clothes get chalky, don’t sweat it. Launder with a detergent that offers a stain remover and brightener in one. Easy!

Keeping Your Kids’ Toys Clean

Has your child's teddy bear attended one too many tea parties? Could those muddy action figures use a bath before returning to combat? Different playthings require different kinds of care, so follow our tips to prolong the life of your child's favorite toys.

Stuffed animals. When your child’s favorite lion, tiger, or bear gets dirty, place it in a lingerie bag or pillowcase that’s knotted shut and wash on gentle with a liquid laundry detergent in a fun, invigorating scent. If hand washing is recommended, wet a washcloth with water and mild soap, rub the fur gently, and wipe clean with a damp cloth. Tumble dry at medium heat, or allow to air-dry in the sun. And be sure that the stuffed toys dry completely, to prevent mildew from forming.

Wooden toys. Avoid soaking wooden items in water. Instead, wipe all trains, pull-toys, play fruit, and dollhouse pieces with a damp cloth, then dry well with a soft cloth. For stubborn marks, add a drop of dishwashing liquid to the cloth and rub gently before rinsing with a clean, damp cloth and drying.

Action figures. Gather action figures, pretend tools, and other plastic toys in a sink or tub filled with warm water and a few squirts of fresh-scented citrus liquid dish soap. Submerge toys and agitate for a few minutes, then rinse well and dry with a soft cloth or towel. Keep an old toothbrush on hand for scrubbing hard-to-clean crevices.

Vinyl dolls. To clean vinyl baby dolls and fashion dolls alike, gently rub with a damp cloth. Wash dirty tresses with shampoo, and tackle tangles with conditioner and a fine-tooth comb. For marker or crayon smudges on a doll’s skin, rub with a paste made from baking soda and a few drops of water, then rinse well and dry.

Tub toys. Every few weeks those rubber duckies and plastic submarines may need a scrub of their own. In a sink or tub filled with warm water and a few squirts of liquid dishwashing soap, agitate the toys and rub clean with a soft cloth, then rinse well and allow to air-dry. If mold is present, scrub the toys with kosher salt and a bristle brush, then soak overnight in a bucket filled with water and vinegar. In the morning, simply rinse and dry the toys in preparation for their next splashdown.