Rainy Day Activity For Kids { Puzzle Hunt }

summer activities for kids insideRainy days at our house always start with happy play but by early afternoon my kids have used up their patience with each other and mine isn’t far behind. This puzzle hunt took 2 minutes to set up and they played 3 times. More importantly the bad attitudes we were all developing were stopped in their tracks. It’s the perfect easy rainy day activity for kids. It’s also a great way to use puzzles. We used wooden puzzles but if you have older kids it would be fun to try a jigsaw puzzle instead. Another thing I love about puzzle hunts is you know if you forgot to find a piece because the puzzle won’t be complete.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some puzzles . <— pretty easy right?rainy day puzzle hunt
  2. Pop all the pieces our and start hiding them. rainy day puzzle hunt activity for kidsI send my kids up to the playroom while I hid them. Hide some in tricky places and some in plain sight if you have younger kids.  hidden pieces
  3. Time to search. rainy day puzzle hunt for kidsThey started out trying to beat each other and I reminded them that they are working as a team to beat me.rainy day gross motor If they find all the pieces then they win , if not I win. That did the trick and they were a team from then on. scavenger hunts for kids
  4. They took breaks every now and then to count how many we had already found and how many were still missing. rainy day puzzle hunt for toddlers
  5. Complete! If anything makes a parent burst with happiness it’s an unprompted hug between siblings that isn’t part of an apology. rainy day cooperative play

Other ways to play include having your kids hide the pieces and you find them , take it outside ( you may want to pop the pieces in a Ziploc or 5 ) , and include words on each to create a secret message .

On long summer days especially if you are stuck inside for whatever reason simple play like this goes so far in improving moods, recharging a bad day and getting kids to work together. For more rainy day ideas ( and sunny day ones too )  check out our Pinterest boards !

Valentine’s Day Rainbow Wall

valentine heart muralWe needed some extra happy cheer in our playroom after a week of cold, gloomy weather. My kids had fun making something cheerful for their playroom while working on fine motor skills, color recognition and counting. Oh and cooperative projects like these were always the very first thing I’d set up for my class ( and now my kids) when bickering started popping up. Working together has a great way of allowing them to work out their differences and feel like a team again.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper ( or craft paper with double stick tape ) , many sheets of all different color paper, a heart punch, and markers in every color of the rainbow.valentine's day rainbow craft
  2. Start by pinning the contact paper to the wall sticky side out. I prefer contact paper because it allows kids to change where they put a heart if they don’t like their original placement. I pop the paper on with the backing still on then peel. I find it way easier than putting in on with the sticky already exposed. valentines day rainbow
  3. Next punch out a whole bunch of hearts. My kids helped with some but I did most of the punching . valentine's day rainbow craft mural
  4. Draw the rainbow with markers directly on the contact paper.valentine rainbow mural
  5. Set up a heart station ( ours was a plate and a stool) by the contact paper.valentine's day rainbow activity for kids
  6. Let them at it.valentines' day color matching activity for toddlersMy daughter liked taking her time finding the exact right spot for each heart. My son liked gathering a handful of one color and adding them on in a bunch.valentines' day heart mural for kids Clearly they weren’t having any fun at all.valentines' day heart mural for cooperative play
  7. My daughter fizzled out about half way through, if I was making this for just toddlers I’d make a much much smaller rainbow and maybe larger hearts as well. My son and I had a race to see which colors could be filled in first. I was reminded how much I love just working on something like this with my kids. It really does make you feel more like a team and is by far the number one reason we do projects together. He counted each color to see which won and noticed that of course the first few colors would have more than the last few. I love it when learning like that comes so naturally in a self directed way.valentine's day heart mural counting
  8. All done. Now our gloomy winter weather can’t bring us down. Valentine's day heart mural for preschool

Alphabet Wall Mural

For about 3 weeks we’ve been writing on our playroom wall, well on paper attached to the wall. Both my kids, friends who have come by and even my husband and I have contributed to this on going mural.  My daughter loves to write on vertical surfaces and she is just starting to point out letters in books and other print so I figures we could fill both those needs and create a cooperative project for my son and her as well.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some painters tape ( don’t buy the cheap stuff, I did and it’s cheap for a reason), butcher block ( aka craft paper), marker and then the materials to decorate  things like crayons, markers, stickers…
  2. Clear a large wall space, part of the magic of a mural is it’s size so to make a simple project like this super make it big. Hang the paper up.
  3. Write out the alphabet . I thought I had it spaced well but poor little z got almost no space.Alphabet wall mural
  4. Add kids.  Sometimes I ask her to find a letter and color, often I just put the crayon jar on the floor and watch.
  5. We added stickers . My son put them on the matching letter, and directed my daughter where to put them too.  Stickers are great little fine motor exercises especially peeling them off their original sheets.
  6. Now every time we are in the playroom ( many times a day) someone adds something. Not sure how long we will leave it up but for now we are having fun with it. Below is the mural today- check out all the stars on the letter S, it’s my daughter’s favorite word these days!

Alphabet Books

Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. My son loves this book, I grabbed it at the library after remembering how much my Pre K class loved it too.Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but this my 19 month old will sit through Z every time. {This review is from when my son was 19 months old in 2008. His love of this book was really a jumping off point for his love of letters in general. I wish I could say I taught him his letters but really reading this one particular book over and over at his request probably did the trick. }
 

Chicka Chicka ABC  by Bill Martin Jr. and Jim Archambault is a fantastic board book with the perfect amount of text for a toddler. The illustrations by Lois Ehlert are so bright and bold that even very young babies will respond to it!  Of all the alphabet books we have at our house this is the one my daughter who is 19 months grabs the most. She loves the way the text leads whoever is reading it to a sing song voice , especially her brother who practically sings it to her. It’s a great first alphabet book for toddlers.

Al Pha’s Bet by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a rare find. An alphabet book that can keep a 5 year old who says alphabet books are for babies, completely engaged. The story follows Al who has bet himself that he can win a contest ordered by the King figure out an order for the brand new 26 letters that were just invented. In a string of adorable events and a little chance the alphabet as we know it is put together. My son thought it was hysterical that P was put in the line up after Al went pee. It’s a cute idea for a book and abstract enough to be a bit of a challenge for preschoolers but just the right level of interest for kids that think they know it all when it comes to the alphabet.

Trash Rainbow Craft

trash collage rainbow craft for kids

I love rainbows. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner rainbows have been popping up every time I sit down to brainstorm activities. This one was particularly fun because it used things I am cleaning out of my craft dump closet , incorporates my son’s incredible love of pretend play ( he’s a garbage sorter) and most every preschooler’s desire to sort.  You can do this in 2 parts sorting one day, making a rainbow the next or if I was still teaching I’d do this as a cooperative group project. My 4 year old did all the way up to putting the trash on then lost interest until I started putting some on and he ran back to the table saying he could do it better (is everything a competition in your house too? Sigh) so we did the gluing together.Make sure whatever materials you use that they are safe for the age/ ability of child you are doing this with.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of paper ( I used a grocery bag cut open ), glue, scissors, colored pencils/markers , 7 small containers, small squares of paper in the colors of the rainbow, a mixed mess of “garbage ” -paper/ buttons/foam/plastic toys/ribbon in the colors of the rainbow.
  2. Next fill a container up with all the “garbage”
  3. Start sorting by color.
  4. I was so pleased with how much he liked this part of the activity. It seemed to go on and on forever as he pretended to need a coffee break from his job at the garbage sorting factory. We are not short on imagination in this house.
  5. While he returned to work I made the rainbow with colored pencils.
  6. Time to add glue. We added two glue for a few colors at a time.
  7. Add the objects! We did this part together
  8. Add more glue.
  9. Add more objects.
  10. Let dry.

Books About Rainbows

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Duckie’s Rainbow by Frances Barry is a clever little book , you walk with her as she passes things like a yellow cornfield and blue pond until the pages above create a rainbow . I love the idea but reading it with my son ( who was 2 at the time) all he wanted to do was turn the pages as quickly as he could to make the rainbow. Not a big deal but this would make a better story time book then a bedtime one for that reason.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert is a wonderful book to use for teaching about flowers and colors. The illustrations are bold and bright, perfect for little curious minds. I have always liked this book because you can sit down and dive into it reading each flowers name on every page , or browse it more casually with a younger child simply noting the colors.

This project too complicated for your toddler? Yesterday in my Link &Learn weekly linky this awesome rainbow project from Toddler Approved was linked. When I saw it after writing this post I knew it would be a perfect link to share as an option for younger kids so I added it in .

Rainy Day Rainbow – Recycled Art

This recycled art project is great because it never really has to be done, also it’s a cooperative project that you and your child or a group can do together. You can make it for St.Patrick’s Day or just to brighten a rainy day with lots of color.
  1. Gather your Materials. For the back of the rainbow I have used some extra wrapping paper but you can use anything, in the past I have used brown grocery bags taped together and it looked great! Glue is great for older preschoolers but if you are worried about the mess or if you have a glue eater ( I know I do! ), try some double stick tape!
  2. Draw a rainbow, it doesn’t have to be perfect or even good, the paper will cover it .
  3. Get scrap paper or if you don’t have that you can color some the colors you want. Then hand the paper to whoever loves to rip things, my 14 month old loved this part of the project.
  4. Decide what order you want and start putting the paper in the arches.
  5. Keep going and going- roll it up and wait until the next rainy day to add more scrap paper to it.
In my classroom a few years ago I used this activity as an alternative to going outside when it was raining, throughout the week we would save scrap paper and on a rainy day add it to our rainbow. The children who were 2-3 loved it and when it was done were very proud when I hung it up where their parents could see it. A long term project is a great experience for little ones, so don’t worry about finishing it in one try!