Outdoor Education Activities for a Rainy Day

cover photo rainy day activities for outdoor education/ child playing with a duck in a puddle

A little bit of rain shouldn’t stop your outdoor fun and exploration. So long as everyone is dressed for the weather, spending time outside in the rain can be a magical learning adventure. Our students often look to us for clues about how to respond to different situations. If we respond by complaining about the weather they will learn that rain is something to dread or fear and will take the fun out of any situation. However, if we respond with joy, excitement, and enthusiasm for a rainy day they will learn to look forward to going outside in any weather. After all, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Below are rainy-day activities that will get you and your kids outside and exploring even when the weather doesn’t seem to be cooperating.

As with all outdoor activities, remember to be prepared. Ensure that your students are dressed for the weather. If you have younger students they should also have a dry change of clothes to change into once your outdoor exploration is done. Know your weather conditions as well. Hypothermia can set in more quickly if kids are wet. Also storms, which can include lightning, hail, and high winds are better to be observed in the safety of a shelter. If you are on a trail or grass you may find that rainy weather can make trail conditions slippery and unsafe. If you will be venturing far from your school make sure you check the weather forecast before you go. 

Child playing in the rain

Being Prepared for Outdoor Activities for a Rainy Day

In order for your kids to enjoy these outdoor activities, they need to come prepared to be outdoors. Depending on your climate this might look like:

  • Rain jacket and splash pants
  • For younger students a full-body splash suit (like a “newt suit” or “play suit”)
  • Waterproof boots
  • Warm layers (if it is cold)
  • Mitts (also if it is cold)
  • A change of clothes

I usually don’t suggest bringing umbrellas because they tend to break in the wind and holding them gets in the way of playing and exploring. Having your students come dressed for the weather takes a bit of preparation work and communication with families.

Get Outside Tool KitInformation about dressing for the weather that you can share with your families can be found in our free “Get Outside Tool Kit!”
kids wearing rain gear walking in the rain

Outdoor Activities​ for a Rainy Day

There are so many great outdoor activities for a rainy day. Below are some easy and low-prep ways to get your students outside in the rain. Remember your attitude toward the rain will be reflected by your student’s attitude towards the rain. So why not approach the rain as something fun and exciting, rather than nature’s way of spoiling the fun? 

1. Puddle Exploration​

Kids of all ages love playing in puddles. Give your students the freedom to explore the newly formed puddles in your learning space. Let them splash around, swirl the water, or make different splashes using rocks and sticks. This unstructured activity is especially fun if your students have been cooped up indoors for a long period of time and need a chance to just have some fun. 

2. Rain Walk​

Go for a walk around your community and explore how the rain changes the look and feel of the plants, animals, buildings, and roads in the community. Prompt your students to explore using all of their senses.

3. Worm Hunt​

The wet ground and puddles cause the worms to come to the surface for air. A rainy day is the perfect time to get your students outdoors and looking for worms. As a class discuss how to ethically search for the the worms, how to treat them while they are being studied, and then decide what you will do with them after they are found and studied. This might also be a great time to start an inquiry unit on worms with your students. 

4. Building Trenches​

Take your students to a sandy area, such as the playground, and have them build trenches, dams, moats, or whatever their imaginations come up with. Through building these trenches students start to grow their understanding of gravity, water flow, and structures. You can provide your students with buckets and shovels or simply allow them to experiment using found materials such as sticks. 

5. Animal Safari​

Go for a walk or explore your learning space to see which animals are out in the rain. Sometimes the cool, rainy weather makes it more enticing for animals to come out of their shelter. If there are regular animal visitors that come to your learning space you might also want to observe who you see and who has gone into hiding in their shelter. 

6. Rain Poetry​

Let the full sensory experience of rain inspire some writing. Depending on the age of your students you can scaffold this to suit their level. Younger students might work as a class to write a poem. Older students might be given more freedom to explore metaphors or analogies in their poetry. Look for some examples of how to include nature poetry into your outdoor learning activities in this post.

7. Water Colour Painting​

Harness the rain to make watercolour paintings. Have your students draw using watercolour pencils on watercolour paper. Then allow them to take their works of art outside into the rain and see how the water changes the paintings. Students might also use watercolour paints and use the rain as water to wet their brushes. Get creative and have some fun with the rain.

8. Shelter Building​

What better way to test your student’s shelter-building skills than to create a shelter in the rain? Provide your students with a tarp and some ropes and see what happens. This is a great way for students to work on their engineering and design skills. Through working through the process they also need to work on their communication and teamwork skills. With younger students, you can work together to create a shelter.

9. Rainbow Hunt

After the rain is over why not go on a rainbow hunt? Go for a walk and enjoy the sensory experience of the post-rain world. You could even have your students map where they think the rainbow ends. 

boy looking out the window on a rainy day

Indoor Activities​ for a Rainy Day

If the weather is extremely uncooperative or if your students aren’t prepared to be outside in the rain, here are a few activities to bring nature indoors and still celebrate the rain. 

1. Rainy Day Stories​

Why not spend some extra time indoors reading some rain-inspired stories? With older students, you could have them write rain-inspired stories or poetry. A rainy day is the perfect time to let your students be creative and take a break from their regular work. Get your students to really hone in on the sensory experience of the rain or the mood created by the rain and have them bring that to life in their writing. 

2. Rain Inspired Art​

A rainy day is a great time to start a rain-inspired art project. Pinterest is full of great art ideas that build on the themes of rain, rainbows, or water. 

3. Rainy Day Inquiry​

The rain can be the starting point to a great inquiry unit. Some topics might include:

  • the water cycle
  • worms
  • animals in the rain
  • clouds
  • storms

Let your students lead the way with their interests. Then scaffold their inquiry by finding books, conducting experiments, or finding videos that help them explore the topic further. 

4. Fort Building​

Maybe your students have been indoors for far too long and just need a chance to let off some steam. Forts are a great way to get your students working creatively and solve problems together. You can have your students bring materials from home, or simply have them use classroom materials. Watch their creativity take off as they build their forts.

child playing in a puddle with a rubber duck

Now Get Exploring and Try Some of These Outdoor Activities for a Rainy Day…​

The rain is no excuse to stop exploring and getting your students outside. The rain provides opportunities for sensory stimulation, creative exploration, and even getting to know their learning space in a different way. If you ensure that your students come prepared for the weather and ready to be outside, there’s no reason for the rain to stop you. Be prepared with some rainy day activities and cultivate an attitude of enjoying nature no matter what the weather is like. Your students will follow suit and will likely love the opportunity to get outside and explore. 

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