Trying to plan fun activities when your children are off school can be tricky, particularly when the rain dampens every outdoor activity you had planned. Despite it being called the ‘summer’ holidays, the rain can still hammer down throughout July and August. Then there are the half-terms in February and October, when rain is almost expected.
Well, don’t fret. Below, you can find some of our best ideas and things to do with kids on a rainy day, from making the most of the rain by going puddle jumping to cosying up indoors in a homemade fort to watch a family favourite.
You can also read our guide on educational things to do at home with the kids for more ideas.
Kids love to get crafty, and making your own jewellery can be a cheap but fun family activity. Get creative and make some weird and wonderfully coloured bracelets, necklaces, clip-on earrings and more using string and a range of beads and charms. Plus when you’re done, everyone can put on a fashion show to flaunt their newly made items.
Crazy golf in the UK is geared up to the weather, which is why there are so many indoor courses you can go to, making it the ideal rainy-day activity. Spend the afternoon trying to get the golf ball into the nine or 18 holes while avoiding all sorts of obstacles. There are crazy golf sites all over the UK, and we’ve listed just a few below so you can find one near you:
Lost City Adventure Golf - Belfast
Junkyard Golf - Liverpool
Adventure Golf Island - Dunfermline
Galaxy Quest Adventure Golf - Sunderland
Mr Mulligan’s - Birmingham
Plonk Crazy Golf - Camden Market
Treetop Adventure Golf - Cardiff
Centre VR (VR crazy golf) - Bournemouth
Embrace the rain! Instead of trying to avoid it, don your waterproofs and take the children somewhere to enjoy the water. If they’re wearing the right gear, such as suitable children’s wellies or shoes that have waterproof protection, there’s no reason to avoid the weather. In fact, puddle jumping is thought to increase their spatial awareness, improving estimation and measurement skills, so there are some benefits to participating in this rainy day activity.
Movies are always a great way to distract the kids for a couple of hours, particularly somewhere exciting like the cinema. Pick a film that’s suitable for the whole family and take the time to stock up on the coveted cinema snacks too.
Making a time capsule can be really exciting for children, particularly as to them, the future seems so far away. Find something you can use to put your items in, like a tin box, and fill it with bits and pieces that would tell someone from the future about you and your family. You could add a dated newspaper, some family photos, modern coins, a collection of toys, your children’s favourite film and more. Once it’s filled, bury it in the garden for someone to find in years to come.
Escape rooms are another fun indoor activity for the family, but they’re also educational too. Full of brain teasers, puzzles, clues and mind tests, an escape room can put your family through their paces to ensure you don’t all end up trapped! Work out each puzzle or clue at a time to escape the room in the allotted time.
Decorating biscuits is always fun. Not only can it release your child’s creative side, but you get to eat the biscuits when you’re done, so that’s an added bonus. You can either buy pre-made biscuits or go one step further and make your own first!
If your children have a bigger dressing-up wardrobe than an everyday one, they’ll love spending some time getting in those outfits and playing make-believe. And there’s no reason you can’t join in the fun too. If you have a costume from a themed party hidden in the back of your wardrobe, now’s the time to get it out.
For some screen-free playing time, puzzles and board games can be a great way to pass a rainy afternoon. There’s Snakes & Ladders, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Scrabble, and so many more. Choose one you think your kids will like best (or let them decide, if you think it won’t end in an argument) and spend the afternoon playing games together. Some of these games, such as Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble, can be educational as well as fun.
Ramp up film night by having a movie marathon instead of just watching one. The marathon can run over a few days (where you watch one film from a series each night), or it can start in the day so you can get through a couple of films at a time. There’s a whole range of movie series to pick, from toddler-friendly animations like Toy Story or Cars, to franchises for bigger kids such as Harry Potter and Jurassic Park.
Camping can be miserable when the weather isn’t very nice, so why not try camping inside the house for the night? This is an exciting experience that makes children feel like they’re doing something ‘special’ or ‘unusual’, so it’s super fun for them, too.
Set up a tent inside your living room and fill it with blankets and pillows. Spend the evening playing in there, or watch a film from your tent, and then go to sleep for the night.
Children love hunting for things, so you could create a home scavenger hunt to keep them entertained for an hour or two. You could put together some clues and hide them around the house, with each clue eventually leading them to a prize of some kind. Alternatively, you could ask them to find certain items in the house, giving them basic clues or instructions. You can combine this with a movie night by letting the prize be a film that you can all sit and watch together.
If your children look up to Einstein and Newton, or just love getting their hands dirty, you could perform an at-home science experiment. The internet contains tons of ideas, from creating moon sand to building your own lava lamp. Pick something that’s suitable for their age group and maybe something that won’t be too messy or destructive either. Science Fun for Everyone has some ideas to get you started.
If you want to get out of the house for the day, visit some sealife at a local aquarium. Children are usually fascinated by animals, so take them to watch the sharks swimming overhead in an aquarium tunnel or try to find the ‘Nemo’s and ‘Dory’s of the aquarium. Not only can this be a fun trip out, but it’s very educational too.
If you’re fed up of baking or decorating biscuits, making pizzas is a great alternative, and something the kids can eat for lunch too! You can buy premade bases, go all out and make your own or experiment with pitta or wrap pizzas. The great thing about this lunch is fussy children can choose exactly what they want to put on their pizzas, so buy a selection of toppings, as well as cheese and a tomato base. Pop them in the oven and lunch is served!
We’re at the final item in our list of rainy-day activities! Take your kids bowling and celebrate their first spare or strike in style. If your kids have never been bowling before, most bowling alleys have ramps that they can use to push the balls down and sides that come up to prevent the ball from going in the gutter, so there’s no pressure on them. As most alleys do food too, you can have lunch or dinner when you’re finished!
So there you have it - our list of things to do with the kids when it’s raining. We hope it’s given you some inspiration for the school holidays (or even just a weekend) and keeps the whole family entertained.