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Outdoor Play: Rain or Shine!

Don’t let a bit of spring rain dampen the prospects of outdoor play. Dress the children (and yourself) in appropriate gear and head outside—rain or shine.

When it comes to outdoor play, wet can be wonderful!!

Parents of young children often keep a running list of “rainy day activities,” crafts or games to do indoors when forecast is soggy. How many include playing outside on that list? For those who don’t, perhaps worries about wet weather making kids sick or getting caught in a storm—or even messing up the carpets—figure in. But if your kids have never dodged rain drops, jumped in a puddle or sang in the rain, they’re missing out on something wonderful.

Being outside in the rain offers children a totally different experience to watching it from indoors, if they are given time to splash in puddles and touch the rain in order to feel what it is like.

Rain can sometimes be blamed for causing children to catch colds or flu, particularly when kids’ hair or feet get wet. The fact is, rain cannot make you sick. While getting wet may be inconvenient, dressing children in waterproof hats and boots and raincoats can protect kids from getting too soggy. Pick cheerful rain gear with cartoon characters or bright colors. This will help children want to don their slickers and get outdoors to play. Returning to a warm cup of cocoa helps, too.

In spring and summer, rain can bring along its less hospitable and more dangerous cousins, thunder and lightning. When storms pop up, extra care is necessary.

To stay safe during a storm:

  • Get out of the pool, lake, ocean, or any body of water. Water conducts electricity, meaning that electricity can travel through water.
  • If you’re outside, seek shelter in a house or building. If there’s no house or building, wait out the storm in a car.
  • If you’re outside and can’t get inside, don’t stand under or near large objects, like tall trees. Lightning is more likely to hit something tall.
  • Plan ahead. Talk with your kids about what to do if you get caught in a storm. Also be aware of the weather forecast when you’ll be outdoors, such as on a camping trip. Then you’ll be ready with a plan for getting to shelter if a storm blows up.15

Sometimes, however, the biggest obstacle to playing in the rain is not the fear of getting sick or a storm on the horizon: it is mom and dad. When parents are busy working and taking care of kids and a home, the last thing they want to deal with is muddy tracks across the foyer or wet, ruined carpets.

With a little forethought, a mess can be avoided:

  • When you’re heading out for some rainy fun, make sure you have a mat by the front door for wiping feet when you return
  • Have kids remove boots and any wet or muddy items as soon as they walk in the door
  • Keep some old towels just inside for spills
  • Should mud get on the carpet, experts say to let the mud dry completely before vacuuming to ensure stain removal.16



The Forecast Calls for Play – National Wildlife Federation

Learning Outdoors – Edited by Helen Bilton

Community Connect – Outdoor Play: Rain or Shine