If your kids think of popcorn as something that comes out of a little bag in the vending machine, a rainy day can be the perfect time to enlighten them. Score some organic or heirloom kernels and learn to make popcorn in a pan on the stove, like your not-so-distant ancestors did. Turn to Jolly Time for instructions and read up on the mistakes to avoid with stovetop popcorn at Bon Appetit. They also offer recipes for gussying up your popcorn, such as a savory bacon and cashew blend or caramel almond.
Play some indoor games
Burn some energy and shake off the blues with some active games. Okay, they won't exactly get your heart racing, but they beat all-day napping. These indoor games from Parents.com fit the bill:
- With six small, empty water bottles and a tennis ball, you can turn the hall or family room into a bowling alley. If the "pins" topple too quickly, weight them down with a little dry pasta.
- Make a hopscotch pattern or mock balance beam with masking tape on the living room floor.
- Play slow motion tag with toddlers. Baywatch speed is about right.
Turn your day upside down
If the family needs to get out of a at-home rut, try turning your whole schedule around. Preschoolers and preteens alike will enjoy putting on pajamas and reading bedtime stories to start the morning and you can continue the theme with dinner for breakfast, video games in the morning (before chores are done) and so forth. Don't forget to change into whatever clothes you usually wear at given times on the "upside down" schedule. And if you need flashlights because you're doing the usual daytime stuff later at night, all the better.
Make a family time capsule
If your elementary school age kids are the type that just soak up family stories, encourage their interest with a family time capsule project on a rainy day. Capture this point in family history with a few mementos in a sturdy box. ThriftyFun.com has more explicit directions.
Pile up a pillow fort
Parents may think this is too old school, but the enthusiasm from your young kids and even preteens will make the whole idea new again. The PacificCoast blog has instructions for what may or may not be the "Best Pillow Fort of All Time," but you can improvise. Make sure to do the right thing and pack a picnic lunch and flashlights for the precious hours before the fort comes back down.
Chalk up a creative experience
If your family is the type to lose themselves in doodling and drawing, consider a "peel and stick" chalkboard for a fun distraction. Half of the fun is installing it on a smooth and flat surface, from that hidden plaster wall under the stairs to the freezer in the garage. Use it on the slow day for art and in later days remove and reposition somewhere like the fridge, for family notices or the night's menu.
See what other (animal) families are doing today
If you're the sort of parent who can't resist making day at home a little educational, consider tuning in to some zoo or conservation lands livestreams to view animal families from the cozy comfort of home. Consider the time zones where these animal cams are to see who might be most active and then check 'em out. A few good ones to start: the Koala Cam at the San Diego Zoo, the lion, giant panda and elephant cams at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and the penguin cam at the Taronga Conservation Society in Australia.