It’s raining and pouring, and your toddler's not snoring. Don’t let a few raindrops put a crimp in your plans. Instead, use this time to teach your toddler something new and spend some quality time together with a rainy-day project.
“Children gain confidence when they can do, or participate in, the things that adults do,” says Lisa Kathleen, Canada–based founder of Full Circle Parenting and former Montessori teacher. “Competence builds confidence.”
From home improvement and baking adventures to crafty creations and cleaning projects, deepen the parent-child bond on a dreary day.
If your toddler wants to be mommy or daddy’s little helper, break out the tools for a home-improvement project on a rainy day, says Kathleen. Gather a stump or soft piece of wood and put a number of little nails into it for the toddler to hammer in with a small hammer. With Mom or Dad’s guidance (and careful supervision), he can learn to hold the nails himself, work with different-sized nails and then practice with different kinds of screws and screwdrivers.
Help your toddler to see that cleaning can be fun when you get creative. Break out a squeegee and let him help you clean showers and windows. Play peek-a-boo with your little tike’s reflection while wiping down mirrors together. Even a spray bottle can excite your little helper when you show him how to clean the leaves of plants and wash walls and doors with every squirt.
“Toddlers feel like, and know they are, important members of the family when they do things around the home for the family,” says Kathleen. “This deepens the parent-child bond, as they feel part of the same unit.”
Your toddler can play the role of chef and master artist with a clay project on a drizzly day. There’s no need to run to the store when you can mix up your own at home together. “It is fun to create something together, and children love to be involved in the mixing, measuring and choosing the color of the clay,” says Siobhan Powers, director of Landmark Preschool in Westport, Connecticut. “Afterwards, playing with the clay is really good for developing the muscles in the hands and wrists — the more your child uses her hands, the better.”
This project can also help your toddler learn how to use scissors, while cutting through the clay, with your supervision. Use this opportunity to encourage language skills, suggests Powers. “Since you will be sitting and playing with your child, you can engage in all kinds of conversation about the clay with your child which will help foster expressive and receptive language skills,” she says.
Break out the construction paper and crayons to create games with your toddler. A simple matching game with cut-out pictures of animals, numbers or letters can offer a lesson for the mind and the soul on that dreary day, says Sheila Sewall, Minnesota-based author of “Saving Up Smiles for a Rainy Day.”
“The game strengthens memory skills, and the use of their little fingers turning over cards encourages fine motor skills,” says Sewall. “There is an added bonus of the introduction of social-moral development by teaching your wee one about being a good loser and a gracious winner.”