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Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers

Keep little ones busy and active inside.


Updated March 14, 2012

Enjoy these rainy day activities with your toddler. They'll help her get the physical activity she needs for health and development without facing a cold and gloomy day outside. Plus, they're fun!

1. Ride and roll, inside.

Fisher-Price Rock Roll 'n Ride Trike
If you have enough space in your playroom, basement, or garage, let your toddler use his ride-on toys inside as a rainy day activity. This works especially well with convertible toys like the one shown (Fisher-Price's Rock, Roll 'n Ride Trike, compare prices.)

2. Clean house.

Let your toddler wield a spray bottle of water, a dustpan and mini-broom, or a dry dusting mop with a shortened handle. Or set him up with a sink full of warm soapy water and some plastic containers or bath toys to scrub.

3. Follow the ribbon.

During your toddler's nap, take a long length of ribbon or yarn and create a trail for him to follow when he wakes up. Wind your ribbon around and under furniture and other obstacles, so your child has to crawl under and over them. You can even stash a little snack or toy at the end of the ribbon, or hide some surprises along the way for him to discover (like wrapping your ribbon gently around a stuffed animal, or attaching some favorite stickers to it). Of course, you'll want to supervise your child closely while he follows the ribbon and wind it up as soon as he's finished following it.

4. Hammer it out.

Kids in cardboard box house window
Catherine Holecko
If your child has a toy hammer, give him a new place to pound (rather than a workbench toy). Use a cardboard box or even a throw pillow, and make targets with crayons or stickers. A nice big box can be the source of many rainy day activities for toddlers!

5. Dance and sing.

Music works wonders as a rainy day activity for toddlers (and moms and dads). It's a mood-lifter and a movement inspirer. Teach your toddler some songs with gestures (like "I'm a Little Teapot") or just freestyle some moves together.

6. Make a chair tunnel.

Similar to the ribbon trail, without the ribbon! Just set up sturdy chairs in a row to make a tunnel or maze for your child to navigate. If you have a play tunnel or tent, use chairs to extend the play zone.

7. Go bowling without leaving home.

Step2 Pin Pals Bowling Set
Set up toy pins or make your own with empty plastic bottles (bigger ones are easier for toddlers to set up and knock down). Use any of your toddler's balls for rolling; better yet, give her a selection of balls of different shapes and sizes to experiment with.

8. Build with books.

Gather up some of your toddler's sturdy board books and use them instead of blocks. Large ones can stand upright (with pages open at a 90-degree angle) to form the walls of a house or the sides of a vehicle. Stack smaller books into towers and then have fun knocking them over.

9. Cargo crawl.

Have your child get on all fours, then put a beanbag, small stuffed toy, or lightweight pillow on her back. See if she can transport her cargo across the room or challenge her to a crawling race.

10. Take a walk.

Toddler binoculars
Catherine Holecko
Suit up in your slickers and boots to splash in puddles outside, or stay in and have a parade. Grab musical toys, if you have them, or plastic tubs to drum on--then march! Or try fashioning a snazzy pair of binoculars out of toilet-paper rolls (pictured). Perfect for an indoor hike and some birdwatching through the window.

11. Go down the tubes.

This works best with a large mailing tube, but you could also make your own tube out of thick paper or a long, narrow box. Set your tube up at an angle so that the end is not directly on the floor. You can tie it to a stair railing or prop it up on a piece of furniture. Using a ball that's small enough to fit through the tube (but not small enough to be a choking hazard), show your child how to pop it in one end, then watch it magically appear at the other side. You can experiment with different balls or small wheeled vehicles. Your toddler will be very busy fetching the ball and putting it through the tube "again! Again!"

12. Read books that inspire active play.

Stretch by Doreen Cronin
Try toddler-friendly titles that will inspire your little one to Stretch, Wiggle, and Bounce (a series of books by Doreen Cronin). Not to be administered before naptime!
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