Chicago is no stranger to harsh weather. Wind, snow, sleet, hail, rain, you’ve got it all. It’s easy to catch a case of the rainy-day blues, or even the snow day jitters as a result of being cooped up all day. If you have a toddler in your family, you know how tough it can be to keep them happily engaged in an activity for even a couple minutes. So, what do you do with your little ones on days where the whole family is stuck inside? Indoor activities of course!

If you’re looking to spend a day at a museum or other indoor play area around the city of Chicago, check out our last blog for family activities in Chicago. If you’re looking to create some fun for your toddler in the comfort of your own home, read on.

Rainy Day Raindrops

Sometimes, the key to avoiding frustration while crafting with your child is just to keep it simple. This activity sticks to the basics and is a whole lot of fun.

You will learn about:

  • Design
  • Shapes
  • Shades of color
  • Fine motor practice

You will need:

  • Blue, black, and white paint
  • Paper
  • Empty toilet paper tube
  • Paper plate
  • Thick paper or poster board

Directions:

  1. Make your raindrop colors. Dispense your blue paint in 3 different spots on your paper plate, so you have three separate puddles of blue paint. In one puddle of blue paint, mix in white paint to get a lighter shade of blue. In another puddle of blue paint, mix in the black paint so you get a dark shade of blue. This should result in 3 different shades of blue. This is a good exercise in learning about shading. Feel free to make more shades of blue if you have more space.
  2. Shape your toilet paper roll. This is an exercise in fine motor skills. Pinch one side of the toilet paper roll so it comes to a point and leave the bottom round. The result should be a teardrop shape.
  3. Dip your toilet paper roll into the paint and stamp it on your paper or poster board to begin creating your raindrop scene. Use the different shades of blue you have created to stamp different colored raindrops onto your paper. Don’t be afraid to layer and overlap your raindrops. There is no wrong way to do this craft.

Rainy Day Window Art

One of the best ways to enjoy the rain is by looking out your window. Create a permanent rainy window with your toddler by completing this indoor activity.

You will learn about:

  • Design
  • Fine motor practice

You will need:

  • Cookie tray
  • Blue watercolor paint
  • A cup
  • White paper
  • Paintbrush
  • Electrical tape

Directions:

  1. Mix up your blue watercolor in a cup. Dilute it as much as or as little as you and your toddler decide!
  2. Lay out your baking tray. This part may seem weird, since baking trays are usually used for baking, not painting. But don’t worry, it will wash right off. Invite your child to start painting on the tray. Little blue droplets will start forming on the baking tray, that’s good! That’s the rain you’re going to use for your picture. There is no wrong way to do this but try not to create giant puddles of water. That will be difficult for your paper to absorb.
  3. Next, you’re going to lay and press your white paper onto your baking tray. Use your hands to smooth down the paper onto the tray so there’s no spots you missed. Let sit for a minute and lift up your paper. Your white paper should now have beautiful blue droplets and streaks on it. Just like it was rained on!
  4. Finally, you’re going to create the window frame with your electrical tape. Voila! You have your very own rainy window!

Make Snow Ice Cream

For days when it is just too snowy to drive to the store and get some ice cream, make your own! This indoor activity will require you to briefly go outdoors to collect some snow, but the rest of this craft can be done in the comfort of your own home.

You will learn about:

  • Cooking
  • Fine motor practice
  • Measuring

You will need:

  • Granulated sugar – 1 cup
  • Evaporated milk – 1 can
  • Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Sprinkles
  • One half gallon of clean snow from outside

Directions:

  1. Mix together your evaporated milk, sugar, and vanilla extract until the ingredients are well combined.
  2. Go outside and gather your snow. Make sure that it is clean and fresh snow. Hurry back inside!
  3. In a large bowl, add 8-10 cups of snow. Pour the milk mixture over the snow and mix together well. The texture should be relatively fluffy and clumpy.
  4. Scoop out your servings, add some sprinkles, and eat up before it melts!

Design Your Snow Measurement Stick

Make snow accumulation fun with this DIY snow measurement stick! Now every time it snows, your family will know exactly how much without having to ask the weatherman.

You will learn about:

  • Measurement
  • Design
  • Fine motor skills

You will need:

  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • An old ruler or paint stirrer
  • Another ruler

Directions:

  1. Paint over the old ruler or paint stirrer with whatever color you’d like your snow measurement stick to be.
  2. Use the other ruler to remark inches on the stick. Those numbers can be big or small, but if you want to leave space to do some painting, we recommend making those numbers small.
  3. Paint your design on the rest of the stick. Add any craft materials that you want!
  4. Wait for your paint to dry and then stick it in the ground.

Show off Your Snow Painting Skills

You’ve heard of finger painting and water color painting, but what about snow painting? Explore a whole new world of painting with this artsy indoor activity.

You will learn about:

  • Painting
  • Color mixing
  • Fine motor skills

You will need:

  • Paint brushes
  • Paint
  • A brownie pan (or something similar)
  • A bunch of snow

Directions:

  1. Prepare your work area. Lay a towel down over a table or hardwood floor to help absorb any excess paint or melting snow. This could get messy! Set up your paints and brushes too.
  2. Gather your snow, and pack it into your brownie pan or tray. Make sure your snow is well packed down, as it will reduce the effect of melting.
  3. Paint away! Feel free to experiment with mixing brush painting with finger painting. Go crazy with the colors and patterns. This isn’t permanent so don’t stress if it doesn’t look exactly how your toddler wanted it to. You can always just go get more snow and start again!

With these snow and rainy-day crafts, you should be covered for the next time you and your family are cooped up inside. Don’t just opt for watching movies or playing video games. Try these indoor activities to help strengthen some of your child’s core competencies, like fine motor skills. Crafting makes everything better! Remember, safety is always the most important thing. And the second, is to just have fun!