Family Activities

Splish, Splash! 5 Outdoor Rainy Day Experiments for Kids

April showers bring May flowers and water games galore.

By Lee Scott on April 7th, 2017

Little boy playing in puddle with rubber ducks
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The temperature outside is getting warmer, and along with April showers, spring weather creates the perfect opportunity to go outside and play — even if it is raining. It’s especially fun to jump over muddy puddles or make mud pies right after it rains. Time to spring into action!

Outdoor play is important for all young children and adults, too. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health issued a position statement on active outdoor play that states, “Access to active play in nature and outdoors—with its risks—is essential for healthy child development. We recommend increasing children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings—at home, at school, in child care, the community and nature”. We know that children sit less, increase their movement, collaborate more with others, and play longer when playing outside. Encouraging children to go outside and play in the rain, or just after the rain, provides plenty of opportunities for creativity and exploration.

Here are five water-based activities you can do during April showers. Put on your raincoat and boots and jump in on the fun:

1. Puddle Jumping
Jump in and around small and large puddles. This helps support balance, coordination, and gross motor development. Make a game of it and add a little math lesson by counting the number of jumps or measuring the length of each jump.

2. Making Mud
Playing in the dirt is always fun and you can add science lessons to the game. How much water is needed to make mud? Get out a few plastic bowls along with water and sand or dirt. Test each bowl of dirt by combining with water to make mud. How much water was needed to make the thickest mud? Which amount resulted in the best mud to play with? Children will learn to experiment and test their ideas as well as practice estimating and making predictions.

3. What Sinks around Here?
Use a deep puddle or a bowl with water in it. Gather items from the outdoors such as leaves, pinecones, and rocks. Test each one and make a simple chart of what floats and what does not. The chart can be drawings of each of the items or pictures you take and print out. This supports development of early science skills like observation, data collection, and interpretation.

4. Rain Gauge
Set up a simple rain gauge in your yard or on your patio. You will need a ruler, a glass jar, a few stones or pebbles, a waterproof marker, and water. Using the ruler and marker write on the jar one inch from the bottom, two inches, etc. marking up to four inches. Place the jar outside with a few stones or pebbles at the bottom and fill the bottom just over the stones with water. Make sure the jar is on a flat surface in an open area. After it rains you can measure the rainwater. Create a simple chart for the month of April. How much did it rain? This simple and fun activity helps children learn measurement and how to record and track data.

5. Watercolors Outside
Become sidewalk artists! You will need some chalk, water (check the rain gauge), and large sturdy paintbrushes. Make designs with the chalk on the sidewalk and then dip the paintbrush in the water. Paint lightly over the chalk with the water, creating a watercolor effect. In this activity, children exercise their creativity while learning to experiment.

Share with us on Facebook your family’s favorite rainy day activities!

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