Rainy day

9 rainy day activities when you're stuck inside

It's raining, it's pouring and no one in the house feels like snoring. Happily, there are plenty of amusing ways to enjoy family time together when nasty weather keeps you inside.

»RELATED: Everything you need to know about a flash flood

Instead of letting the kids "plug in" for solo video games or incessant texting with their friends, turn to these nine ideas for indoor fun and bonding:

Cheesy popcorn from the store can never be as hot and fresh tasting as when you make it at home with cheese powder. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Photo: Michael Tercha

Revive the art of pan popcorn

If your kids think of popcorn as something that comes out of a little bag in the vending machine, a rainy day can be the perfect time to enlighten them. Score some organic or heirloom kernels and learn to make popcorn in a pan on the stove, like your not-so-distant ancestors did. Turn to Jolly Time for instructions and read up on the mistakes to avoid with stovetop popcorn at Bon Appetit. They also offer recipes for gussying up your popcorn, such as a savory bacon and cashew blend or caramel almond.

Play some indoor games

Burn some energy and shake off the rainy day blues with some active games. Okay, they won't exactly get your heart racing, but they beat all-day napping. These indoor games from Parents.com fit the bill:

  • With six small, empty water bottles and a tennis ball, you can turn the hall or family room into a bowling alley. If the "pins" topple too quickly, weight them down with a little dry pasta.
  • Make a hopscotch pattern or mock balance beam with masking tape on the living room floor.
  • Play slow motion tag with toddlers. Baywatch speed is about right.
Using a Mason jar, water and glitter, you can create your own snow globe, like these at Zinger Hardware and General Merchant.
Photo: Ashley Landis

Revisit some Christmas craft projects

Whether the frantic family holiday was a couple of weeks ago or many months away, it’s never to early or late to use your creative juices for holiday creations. Just make sure you have storage space for the results (and that nothing will go bad before Santa comes around). Haul out those seashells from vacation and turn them into holiday ornaments, make a homemade Advent calendar or fill mason jars with chocolate chip cookie mix to give as presents.

Turn your day upside down

If the family needs to get out of the rainy day rut, try turning your whole schedule around. Preschoolers and preteens alike will enjoy putting on pajamas and reading bedtime stories to start the morning and you can continue the theme with dinner for breakfast, video games in the morning (before chores are done) and so forth. Don't forget to change into whatever clothes you usually wear at given times on the "upside down" schedule. And if you need flashlights because you're doing the usual daytime stuff later at night, all the better.

Make a family time capsule

If your elementary school age kids are the type that just soak up family stories, encourage their interest with a family time capsule project on a rainy day. Capture this point in family history with a few mementos in a sturdy box. ThriftyFun.com has more explicit directions.

Pile up a pillow fort

Parents may think this is too old school, but the enthusiasm from your young kids and even preteens will make the whole idea new again. The PacificCoast blog has instructions for what may or may not be the "Best Pillow Fort of All Time," but you can improvise. Make sure to do the right thing and pack a picnic lunch and flashlights for the precious hours before the fort comes back down.

Host a weather-watch film festival

Since whining about the weather won't change it, embrace the bad weather with an age-appropriate catastrophe-theme film festival. A few film ideas to get you started: “The Perfect Storm”, “The Poseiden Adventure,” “Geostorm” and “Moana”.

Chalk up a creative experience

Naturally, sidewalk chalk is out because of the rain. But if your family is the type to lose themselves in doodling and drawing, consider a "peel and stick" chalkboard for a rainy day project. Half of the fun is installing it on a smooth and flat surface, from that hidden plaster wall under the stairs to the freezer in the garage. Use it on the rainy day for art and in later days remove and reposition somewhere like the fridge, for family notices or the night's menu.

See what other (animal) families are doing today

If you're the sort of parent who can't resist making even a rainy day together a little educational, consider tuning in to some zoo or conservation lands livestreams to view animal families from the dry, cozy comfort of home. Consider the time zones where these animal cams are to see who might be most active and then check 'em out. A few good ones to start: the Koala Cam at the San Diego Zoo, the lion, giant panda and elephant cams at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and the penguin cam at the Taronga Conservation Society in Australia.

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