The bees are buzzing, the flowers are blooming, and the sun is blazing (some of the time). Check out these activities to try with your little ones in the lazy, hazy days of summer—rain or shine.
5 Things to Do on a Sunny Day
Take a tour of the park. Holding baby in your arms, show him all the cool things in your park or yard: Here’s the slide—want to touch? Here’s the garbage can, it’s stinky! This is a rose bush, let’s have a smell! Give him the chance to explore what’s safe to touch—like shaking a branch or grabbing the swing.
Try tummy time on the grass. Lay a towel or blanket on the grass outside and then place baby on her belly. Lie down facing her, if you’d like. Read a board book or try a finger-play as you experience the world from a new perspective.
Paint a shower curtain. Big, messy art projects are more fun outside when it’s warm and a hose is within easy reach for clean-up. You’ll need: an inexpensive shower curtain or liner (or old newspapers), washable paints, and bathing suits or old clothes for the painters. (Paintbrushes are optional. Kids can also paint with hands and feet.) Spread the shower curtain or newspapers on the ground and start painting.
Wash up! Gather up toy cars and trucks, washable dolls, child-safe plates/cups, and more. Fill a plastic container part way with water. If you want bubbles, add dish soap or shaving cream. Offer your child sponges, brushes, or dish rags to use as cleaning tools. (Supervise all water activities carefully and pour water out when your child is done playing.)
For babies and toddlers:
Have a picnic. Lay a blanket or towel on the ground outside and enjoy a meal or snack under a bright blue sky. Bring a few books to share, sing some songs. Lay on your back to look at the clouds or lay on your bellies to look at each other.
5 Things to Do on a Rainy Day
Visit the library and check out books about rain.
Umbrella by Taro Yashima
A little girl is excited for the day when she’ll be able to use her new rain boots and umbrella. When that day arrives, the raindrops sound like music as they fall.
Rain by Peter Spiers
No words? No problem! A rainy-day wordless story provides plenty for parents and children to chat about: animals in their hiding places, raindrops on spider webs, an umbrella blown by the wind.
Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Jon J. Muth
It’s summer in the city, and the narrator says she is “sizzling like a hot potato.” Lush language and beautiful illustrations tell the story of long-awaited rain.
Rain, Rain, Go Away! by Caroline Jayne Church
This charming board book brings the familiar song to life. Your little one will soon be chiming in with “Go ‘way!” and “Hooray!”
Little Cloud by Eric Carle
A board book from the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Little Cloud changes into the shape of a plane, a lamb, and a shark, then joins the other clouds to make rain.
Take a walk in the rain. Gear up with rain boots and umbrellas and enjoy the way your neighborhood changes when it’s raining. Listen for the shushing of car wheels on wet pavement, spot water dripping off leaves and people and animals scurrying for cover, and (of course!) make big splashes in puddles.
Build. There’s nothing like a cardboard box to spark some awesome pretend play. A box big enough to sit in can be a boat, a car, or a cozy place to read. A great big box set on its side can become a store, a barn, or a castle. Add items from around the house—paper plates for the wheels of a car, construction-paper shutters for the windows on a house. But mostly, your child will tell you what he’d like to build and what role he’d like you to play. Get inspired by reading Not A Box (No es una caja) by Antoinette Portis on your next trip to the library.
Bake together. Pull out your favorite recipe and find a way for your toddler to be involved, helping you pour, measure, stir, and—of course—eat!
Video-chat with a friend. “Reach out for a virtual play date with a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or toddler playmate via video chat. Make the visit interactive with singing, dancing, finger plays, shared play like rolling cars back and forth in front of the screen, and games like peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek.
About Baby Steps
This article was featured in Baby Steps, a ZERO TO THREE newsletter for parents and caregivers. Each issue offers science-based information on a topic of interest to parents and caregivers of young children—from sleep to challenging behaviors, and everything in between.