April showers bring May flowers, but they also mean you won’t be letting the kids outside to play. We have come up with a list of activities you can try with your little ones that don’t involve any extra time in front of the TV. Best of all, most of these activities don’t require any shopping and can be set up with the items you have around your house. There’s a little something here for kids of all ages so try some out and let us know how it goes!
Have a Dance Party. Pull out those hairbrush microphones and blast your favorite tunes for a family dance party! Let each child play DJ for a few songs so there’s no battling over music choices, and give prizes for inventive dance moves. Can your little ones do the worm?
Paper “Rocks” and “Hot Lava.” This game is a classic. Kids will play this game all day, and it’s a great game that embraces all ages. Space out and tape a path of papers (any piece of scrap paper works great) on the floor throughout your entire house, and instruct your kids to follow the path, making sure they only step on the papers because everything else is hot lava. To make it more difficult, you can leave larger spaces between papers.
Scavenger Hunt. Make a list of 20 to 30 specific objects found in your home and write them all down. Pass the list to your child, along with a pencil to check things off — and set her loose to find everything. For older kids, you can increase the difficulty level with trickier, more specific objects to find such as a blue measuring cup, a palm tree magnet, a particular book, a hammer with a red handle and so forth.
Bathtub Fishing. Shape pipe cleaners into the shape of fish and toss them in a bathtub of water. Tie a cup hook or a pipe cleaner bent into a hook (secure with electrical tape) to the end of a string and tie it onto a stick to make a fishing pole. See how many fish your child can catch. And no scaling or clean-up required!
Mr. Fix-It. Before you throw away that old keyboard or clock or typewriter that doesn’t work, think how much fun your children will have taking it apart. Kids that are old enough to responsibly handle small parts will love taking some tools to the inside of broken electronics (you can cut the cord off first to be extra safe) and playing Fix-It Shop.
Butcher Paper Art. This is a great activity for even the littlest of kids and allows them to color without worrying if the crayon stays on the paper. Stretch out a big sheet of butcher paper (available in construction rolls in the paint aisle at most hardware stores) and tape it to the floor. Dump out crayons and erasable markers and let your kids create whatever they like on it. You can also encourage them to trace each other’s bodies and decorate them by drawing on clothes and jewelry.
Marshmallows Tinker Toys. Remember the old Tinker Toys you played with as a kid? If you have a bag of marshmallows and some toothpicks, straws or pretzels, you can create a homemade version for hours of fun. Put a pile of marshmallows and a pile of rods in the middle of the table and show your kids how to poke marshmallows on the end of the rods. Because each marshmallow can accommodate several rods, your kids can create various joints and angles for 3-D shapes.
Build a Fort or Tent. For some good, old-fashioned fun, hit the linen closet and construct a fort or tent with sheets, blankets and pillows. The process of creating the hideaway is only the beginning; as once they’re done with the hard work, playtime can begin.
Create a Time Capsule. Create a “2015” time capsule. Have kids include a letter to their future selves with information like their grade in school, Summer plans, their best friends’ names, hobbies they enjoy, favorite movies, songs, and more. Also include a few mementos and photos. Be sure to seal the whole thing in an airtight container (a tennis ball can or Tupperware would work well), and wait until a sunny day to bury it in the backyard. Just remember to make a note of where it is and when you want to open it.
Sort Through Old Toys and Plan a Garage Sale. Use the promise of an upcoming garage sale as motivation to get the kids to sort through their old toys. Have them propose prices for each of the items they’re giving up, and discuss what you’ll do with the (eventual) profits. You may want to consider making a donation to a charity of the kids’ choice to make the project especially meaningful.