The wet winter months make it more challenging to keep the children occupied and moving. Moving is the key word here – children who sit watching screens, whether they be TV, computer, notebooks, tablets or handheld devices, are not developing their brain in the way fundamentally required for later learning.
Sure, children are quiet and occupied, but the brain needs movement of the body to be stimulated and to create important connections that enable children to think easily and clearly. So, here are some great movement games for rainy days to help you keep your little ones moving and learning.
Games for toddlers
In the dark
Close the curtains and switch off the light. Use torches to create shapes and shadows. Toddlers love to point the torch at objects and to watch the light trail move.
Bring the outdoors inside
Rug up and go for a walk to collect some interesting things – leaves, feathers, pretty rocks, sticks or flowers. Then play with your found objects. Make a leaf tracing with crayon, make a road with the stones, hide 'surprises' under containers etc.
Find some old sheets or blankets. Place them over an empty table to make an indoor tent. Put a special snack inside and give your child a flashlight. You can furnish the tent with pillows and a blanket, and let your child pretend to be camping. Children love it if you spend time with them inside their tent. It's a great place to read stories and to have cuddles!
You will need: Cardboard boxes in various sizes
Your child can put supermarket boxes of all sizes to good use. Line the boxes up to make the carriages of a train. Your toddler loves to sit in the front box and be the engine driver while you sit behind as a passenger!
You can also use the boxes to build doll-house, or create a car, make a fort, or build a tower and let your toddler knock them down!
Bean bag toss
Bean bags are a great alternative to balls as they are safe to use inside the house, and don't hurt other children if they are tossed indiscriminately! Use the bean bag to play catch, or have your child toss the bag into an empty laundry basket from a few feet away. As your child develops accuracy, move further away from the basket, or try smaller size containers such as boxes and saucepans.
Ping pong ball rollers
You will need: an old cardboard postal tube and some ping pong balls in an ice-cream container or bucket.
Attach pieces of the cardboard tube to different - sometimes pointing steeply down and sometimes on a gentle slope. Let your toddler post the ping pong balls into the tube and watch as the bounce or roll away. A favourite place to locate the tube is at the end of a corridor... the ping pong ball can roll and roll and roll! Make sure you have all the doors onto the corridor shut!
Games for pre-schoolers
Stand twenty to twenty-five feet away from your child. When you say "green light," have her walk, run, hop, skip, or crawl toward you. She must stop when you say "red light."
You will need: a Kitchen timer for this game.
Wind up your kitchen timer and hide it somewhere in the house. Have your child search for it by listening for its ticking sound.
You will need: Books or scraps of wood.
Make a raceway or train track on a carpet by laying down books of equal thickness side by side to make a smooth lane, or use pieces of plywood or two-by-fours. (Your raceway can be any length and can be straight or have turns.) This will transform the carpet into a smooth surface for racing toys with wheels.
Make golf clubs out of newspaper and tape, and your preschooler can play golf indoors.
You will need: Newspaper, tape, masking tape or paper, a small soft ball (if you don't have a small ball in the house, you can make one with scrunched up newspaper and sticky tape).
Make golf clubs for each player by rolling up several sheets of newspaper and taping them securely. Lay down a sheet of paper or use masking tape to mark several "holes" on the floor or carpet. You can also use a bucket or plastic container lying on its side to from the hole. Use your golf club to try to hit (roll) the ball to the hole.
Balance board fun
You will need: a board measuring about 8 inches wide by 6 feet long and some magazines or books
Place a board across two piles of magazines or books (books will be less slippery than glossy magazines). Have your child practice keeping her balance by walking across the board. As your child grows steadier, you can place one end on a chair and she can walk up it, or place it across two chairs as she grows even bolder.
Remember: The higher you build the balance beam, the more supervision your child will need.
Living room picnic
You will need: Tablecloth, picnic dishes , picnic food , summer clothing.
Brighten the coldest, rainiest, or stormiest of days by having an indoor picnic. Spread a tablecloth on the floor of your living room and use outdoor dishes or paper plates. Picnic type dress (shorts or bathing suits) is essential, and don't forget your hat and sunglasses.
You will need: Drinking glasses, water and a spoon.
Fill drinking glasses with different amounts of water and have your child lightly tap the glasses with a spoon. Notice the different sounds each glass makes. Try to play simple tunes, or make up your own melodies as you play.
Many of these fabulous rainy day ideas are drawn from the FamilyEducation website. There are heaps more ideas for you to explore with your little ones! Read more on FamilyEducation here.
Article by: Dr Jane Williams, Research & Education General Manager. GymbaROO.