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Thursday, April 18, 2019

8 Benefits of Playing Outside on Rainy Days

Photo by Kate McDonald (Flickr)

When my girls see rain outside, they grab their raincoats, boots, and umbrellas. To them, rainy days are meant for jumping in puddles, waddling like ducks, and collecting earthworms. We parents, teachers, and caregivers should confidently and enthusiastically encourage rainy-day play because it provides our kids with eight important benefits.

Improve Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills affect a child's balance, coordination, reaction time, and body awareness. Our kids develop these important skills as they jump, run, and play outdoors. Rainy days provide even more intense gross motor skill training, since our kids must balance carefully on slippery surfaces, work hard to walk through mud, and navigate the outdoors in their bulky rain boots.

Stay Active

Our kids need to engage in active play every day. Play is important for their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Even on rainy days, let's encourage our kids to go outside and run, jump, dance, and stay active.

Learn About Science

Rainy weather offers numerous opportunities for our kids to learn about science and record their findings in a nature notebook. For example, my girls might examine the effects of rain on materials like paper, chalk, and golf balls, predict how fast leaves and sticks will float down our sloped driveway, and hypothesize about the depth of mud puddles. And every summer, they track the amount of rain we receive and compare the total to previous years. I encourage these and other rainy-day experiments because I want my girls to stretch their creativity and reinforce science learning as they play.

Respect the Power of Water

Water can produce electricity and cause flash floods. Rainy-day play gives me the opportunity to discuss the power of water and teach my girls to respect nature as we watch puddles widen along the road and see leaves float down the storm drain.

Enjoy a Unique Sensory Experience

Through sensory play, our kids develop cognitive, communication, and social skills. We provide unique experiences that engage their senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch when we encourage our kids to play outside on rainy days. They can:

  • Watch a water toy spin in a puddle.
  • Identify the different sounds of hard and soft rain.
  • Smell wet grass.
  • Taste raindrops.
  • Touch and compare rough earthworms, soggy ground, and hard rain boots.

Make Music

As toddlers, my girls sang "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "There's a Hole in the Bucket" when they danced in puddles. Now that they're older, though, they listen to the rain's rhythm and create their own songs. One of my girls usually starts clapping to the beat, and her sister improvises song lyrics. The rain sparks their creativity and invites them to make music.

Value Rain

Rain supports life on earth, making it essential to our survival. Let's use rainstorms to help our kids gain an appreciation for water. We can talk about the water cycle, erosion, droughts, and floods as we build dams, fashion mud pies, and watch puddles form. I also challenge my girls to imagine what life would be like without the water that comes from rain. They sure would miss visiting the beach! We depend on rain in so many ways, and playing outside on rainy days increases our respect for this valuable resource.

Bond as a Family

Playing in the rain is good for my girls because they often cooperate as they dance, jump, and sing. I often join in the fun, too, because I value the opportunity to stay active and share bonding experiences with my girls. We still laugh about the time last summer when we danced in the rain all the way to the library. These memories are ones I know I'll cherish forever.

The next time a rainstorm starts, bundle your kids up in the appropriate rain gear and head outside. Rainy-day play provides our kids with eight benefits, and it's fun. What educational, entertaining, and outdoor rainy-day activities do your kids enjoy?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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