Here are some ideas for those rainy days!
1. Treasure Hunt-
Pick a prize and find a hiding place for it.
Create your clues. Adapt them to your treasure hunt game players. Make picture clues for pre-readers. Clip images from magazines and catalogs or find them online if your drawing skills are as weak as mine are. Challenge older kids with riddles, puns, or even math problems: Tell them they need to take 3x6 steps or turn 45 degrees, for example.
Try increasing the activity level in your treasure hunt game. With each clue, include direction on how to travel to the next hiding place: hopping, crawling, waving both hands in the air, and so on.
Hide your clues. Again, adjust difficulty to match kids' abilities. Aim for challenge, without too much frustration. Consider hiding clues under rocks, inside plastic eggs, etc. Or see if you can find ways to leave messages without paper. Use magnetic letters on the fridge, or write on a chalkboard, say.
Set ground rules: No running in the house, no pushing other players aside, and so on, as needed.
Hand over the first clue and set the wheels in motion!
2. Put on a Show-
Challenge a group of kids to stage a play or talent show. Give them a theme or opening lines to get them started, if they need a little jump start (how about "Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Rainy Days, a princess was born with webbed duck feet . ").
3. Bring Outdoor games IN-
Play basketball with a soft foam or sponge ball, or just wad up some newspaper; the hoop can be any basket or receptacle (either hung on the wall or resting on the floor). Have kids shoot from different parts of the room or in different ways, in an indoor version of HORSE.
4. Take a Field Trip-
Hit an indoor pool (if you don't have a gym or community center membership, check hotels—they sometimes sell day passes), ice or roller rink, climbing wall, bowling alley, or inflatables play space to blow off steam.
5. Indoor Sandbox-
Use a large plastic bin, dishpan, or aluminum-foil roasting pan as your box. Fill with rice or oatmeal and stock with scoops, funnels, spoons, toy cars, a plastic tea set—whatever suits your child's interests.
6. Set up a rainy-day construction site-
Break out the couch cushions, old blankets, hula hoops, and cardboard boxes and have the kids build a fort or an obstacle course.
7. Up, up, and away!-
Blow up some balloons and play keep-away or "volleyball." Or use paper fans to play a version of table tennis: Use your fan to create gusts of air to blow your balloon across the table towards an opponent—get it past her to score a point. (Remember, the scraps from popped balloons are a choking hazard, so take precautions if you have small children.)
8. Get crafty-
Painting a large mural or pounding clay works your child's muscles too. Spread out a big sheet of paper (in the garage or basement if you can!) and try different ways to paint, from spattering to footprints to rolling old balls in paint and then on paper. Messy? Yes! But good for lots of laughs too.
9. Get your game on-
Stock your toy shelf with indoor games and toys that encourage kids to move, from classics like Twister to new hits like the Nintendo Wii.
10. Get Wet Anyway-
Suit up with boots, raincoats, and warm socks and get outside—you won't melt. Splash in the puddles. Belt out "Singin' in the Rain" while you twirl your umbrella. Do your best impressions of ducks, frogs, and fish. When you come inside, swap chilly rain gear for a warm bath or a cup of soup.