Five cheap (or free) ways to occupy kids when it’s pouring outside.

Hello. My name is Leanne and I live in Northern Ireland. It rains here. Often.

It was easy enough to keep toots occupied without resorting to TV all day when she was a lot smaller. Now she has to be doing something and because she’s only three a lot of her play is still led by me and Himself.

She’s quite independent when doing certain things, but the weather this year has been awful and she tires of the same thing quickly (Don’t they all?).

So, five things for kids to so when it’s raining. Most of these are relatively easy to do and prepare. I’m not a fan of huge craft projects which take an hour just to lay everything out. Besides, we’re usually just about to head out to the beach, bucket and spade in hand, when the heavens open and I need a quick distraction.

Paper Mache – OK I know, it can be a bit messy, but it’s great for kids of all ages. Even the tiniest of toddler can manage this one without having to be too dextrous. All you need are a handful of balloons, a newspaper or magazine, some flour and water.

Get a bowl of cold water and add enough flour until it’s the consistency of white glue, tear the paper into strips about an inch wide and plonk into the bowl, inflate balloons and give one to each child and let them work away. The beauty of using the flour and water mix instead of actual glue is that when you’re trying to work with a handful of kids it isn’t a disaster if one starts eating from the bowl (it’ll happen, trust me). Plus this means that you’ll then have another planned project for another day when the balloons are dry.

Baking - I don’t this is a predominantly girly thing. I’ve yet to meet a boy who didn’t like to bake as long as he gets to eat the finished product.

The easiest recipe in the world for use when baking with kids is as follows;

One carton of kid’s yogurt or fromage frais.
One carton of caster (superfine) sugar.
One carton of vegetable oil (you can substitute this for melted margarine/butter or sunflower oil)
Three cartons of self raising flour (or plain (all purpose) flour with a teaspoon of baking powder added)
One large egg.

Scrape the yogurt out into a bowl and give the carton a quick wash and dry. Measure out the remaining ingredients starting with the dry ones and add to the bowl with the yogurt in no particular order. Let the kids mix with the wooden spoon (it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit lumpy) and then use the mixture to half fill cupcake cases.

Bake at 180C (350F) for 15-20 minutes, they’ll spring back of you press on them gently when they’re ready. When you remove them from the oven either immediately place a choccy button or two on top while they’re still hot or let them cool slightly and then serve still warm, split in half with some jam.

Play in the rain – Hey it’s there you might as well make use of it. Who can make the biggest splash that kind of thing; also worms come out when it rains, if your kids are into that. Mine is. And if it’s warm outside even though it’s raining, there’s nothing wrong with sticking on some old clothes and letting them roll in the mud, sure it’s just good clean dirt.

Painting and Drawing – but lead them in this. Next time you pass a DIY store pick up a roll of wall lining paper. It’s dirt cheap, usually recycled and quite thick. Pull out your great big roll of paper and a box of colouring pencils or crayons and ask them to draw something specific, their ideal bedroom, a theme park, the best pet in the whole wide world or just a portrait of you. This will also give you some insight into what they think about.

Musical Statues – It isn’t just for birthday parties you know. Get the music on and turn the volume up. Keep hold of the remote and hit mute, everyone has to stay completely still while the music’s off. You can add to this game as well, drop some drying cloths on the floor and say that everyone has to dance on their cloth, if you fall off when the music stops, next time you can only dance on one foot or as a penalty you have to dance with mum for five minutes.

I know hardly and extensive list, but it’s always handy to have one or two extra ideas up you sleeve for times when it’s pouring outside or for anyone in warmer climates, when it’s just too hot to play outside.


  1. Rain, rain, go away!

    It has been SO WET this week - aaarrggghhhh!

    Must try that recipe.

    However I draw the line at papermache, no matter how wet it is outside. With my 3 I would be cleaning up for weeks. Maybe I should just do it when I only happen to have one at home on their own, and it might be more manageable - but when the others found it what they had missed I would never hear the end of it!

  2. Jane, I can't believe it still raining, in AUGUST.

    I've only the one so the papermache is more "doable". Your right tho, you're better not trying it with one in case the other two catch wind of it. You wouldn't believe the flack I get if I bake when toots isn't here. She's convinced it's a game I only do for her.


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