50 Outdoor Play Ideas on Rainy Days

‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing’ Sir Ranulph Fiennes

Do you let your child play outside in the rain or when it’s cold or even in the mud? Playing outdoors in the rain is a childhood experience that is like no other and one that children totally immerse themselves in. Rain droplets falling on your tongue, snails appearing from nowhere and big gigantic puddles to jump in are just a few nature’s treasures that appear magically after rain. There are so many wonderful new sights, sounds, smells, touches, and possibly tastes to experience that children completely immerse themselves in.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a raincoat and gumboots and let’s go and play outdoors with these amazing rainy day outdoor activities for kids!

  1. Jump in puddles!
  2. Ride a bike through puddles.
  3. Drop items from nature into puddles, see which one makes the biggest splash.
  4. Measure how big your puddle is with a stick! Add cms for learning maths.
  5. Stand under a tree and gently shake its branches to have a shower in the falling drops. Don’t forget to open your mouth!
  6. Look at droplets of water on leaves, tilt the leaves so the drops run together to make a bigger drop. Can you move it around without letting it drop?
  7. Collect water from puddles on leaves or bark, using them like bowls to transport them.
  8. Notice the different sounds water falling from a tree makes on different items below: bark, sticks, grass, leaves or even objects made by people. What kind of sounds can you create?
  9. Collect rain in jars, put the lids on and listen to the different sounds made when the jars are tapped on by a stick. Add food colouring to match the sounds.
  10. Make footprints in dirt or mud – shoes or bare feet!
  11. Make mud pies and mud cake in your mud kitchen.
  12. Direct the flow of water on the ground by digging ditches with sticks or rocks.
  13. Build a bridge over your river.
  14. Listen to running water, especially if there is a gushing waterfall.
  15. Make leaf boats and race them on running water
  16. Do this with sticks and bark too, and compare which goes fastest or slowest.  Try to work out why?
  17. Find some lengths of bark, add an upright stick with a leaf on it to make a sailboat.  Sail it on a body of water
  18. Search in the softened dirt for bugs that may have come to the surface after rainfall.
  19. Take a big breath in through your nose, smelling the petrichor smell, or how it smells when rain falls on dry earth.
  20. Dig into some softened earth and see how far down the wet soil goes.
  21. Use a stick to see how deep you can push it into the ground after the rain.
  22.  Tie some string to the end of a stick, you have made a fishing rod.  Go fishing in the creek, pond or puddle.
  23. Tie a leaf or stick to the other end of your fishing rod’s line, you have caught a fish!
  24. Pretend you are in a rainforest (where it’s always wet), exploring the area.
  25. Using some ropes and a tarp, rig up a roof for your dry, cosy cubby and play or read books underneath.
  26. Use a magnifying glass to look closely at places water has been caught (spider webs, droplets on leaves).  How does the light look coming off these places?
  27. Listen and try to identify the birds that come out in between rain showers by their calls.
  28. Use mud to finger paint with, decorating a tree or the backs of your hands or face.
  29. Make mud hand or footprints on the surface of a tree or rock.
  30. Create a nature paintbrush by attaching leaves to a stick with a string and use it to paint with mud.
  31.  Paint similar surfaces with water instead of mud.
  32. Search for fungi growing on trees or from the ground – it likes moist areas.
  33. Look under logs and rocks for bugs hiding from the rain – make sure to cover them back up after you have found them.
  34. Make a simple rain gauge to collect rain and measure it after different falls
  35. Make a creek or river using some recyclable plastic or aluminium foil as its bed for the water to flow along.
  36. Design the rain version of a marble track using bark, feeding the water flow down one strip so that it drips or runs onto the one beneath and continues to flow.
  37. Mix some leaves, grass, bark and seed pods into a puddle, pretend it’s a cauldron and you’re making a magic potion.
  38. Look at your reflection in a puddle or pond.
  39. Compare the size of the ripples created when different sized rocks are thrown into a puddle or pond.
  40. Use some nets to go pond dipping, scooping what you find into a bucket and always putting it back in the pond once you’ve finished examining.
  41. Search for dry areas under trees, noticing how the canopy appears and why it is able to stop or slow the water getting through.
  42. Make perfume or cologne by taking wet seed pods, leaves or bark and crushing and soaking them further in the water.  Dab some on later and enjoy the smell.
  43. Squeeze some mud in your hands into a ball shape, try rolling it and see what happens.
  44. Listen to the squelchy sounds made by your feet in the mud and puddles.
  45. Create a rain painting by adding blobs of paint or food dye onto paper and meeting it trickle down with water.
  46. Make a mudslide and feel how slippery surfaces are when they are wet.
  47. Using a stick (or your hands and fingers), draw some animal tracks or pictures in the mud.
  48. Try transferring water from one container to another by pouring, soaking it up and squeezing it out, scooping with other containers
  49. See how much water you can carry in your hands. Experiment with different ways to hold it.
  50. Balance a cup of water on your head (under your rain hood if you prefer!) and see how far you can go balancing it there.

Why not pop this up on your fridge? These rainy day kids activities will be then easily found on your next wet day.

Need more nature play inspirations, activities and ideas to get your kids outdoors more? Why not use our downloadable set of nature scavenger hunt cards?

rainy day kids activities

Eco Explorers provides a child led and highly enriched sensory and outdoor bush program for children and families of all ages. Join one of our bush playgroups, bush kinder or forest school programs near you.

This article was written by bush playgroup facilitator and forest school leader, Penny Sekeris