Playing in the Rain and Mud

Rainy days are often seen as a reason to stay indoors. But, for those of us who live where there are entire seasons of the year that have daily downpours, keeping active kids indoors all the time isn’t practical. When wet weather persists, sometimes you just have to get outside, despite the rain and mud.

It can definitely be harder to find the motivation to get out the door when it’s raining, but once you do, you won’t usually regret it. With a positive mindset and the right rain gear, playing in the rain can actually be a lot of fun!

Child playing in the rain & jumping in puddles

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Benefits of Playing in the Rain

Playing in the rain is a sensory experience. Children feel the mud squishing beneath their feet and the rain drops landing on their skin. They hear the sound of the falling rain landing on different surfaces and the way the ground squelches when they walk.

Their noses may catch the scent of petrichor, the distinct smell that is released when the rain wets dry soil. Engaging the senses in these ways is beneficial for brain development and helps to boost curiosity, exploration, and creativity.

Playing in the rain can benefit strength and mobility too. Because some surfaces become more slippery or squishy than normal when it rains, moving around can be more challenging, especially for younger kids.

As they become accustomed to navigating the wet world, kids’ balance and coordination improves. Learning to adapt to these new conditions helps them master a new skill and this boosts their confidence too!

In addition to these important developmental benefits, playing in the rain lends some bigger life lessons, as well. Getting outside in all types of weather models resiliency. It teaches our children to value time outdoors, even if the conditions aren’t perfect. 

When rainy weather threatens to cancel our plans, we may be tempted to say something like “we were going to go on a nature hike today, but now it’s raining so we can’t go.” Instead, we can say, “we had planned to go on a nature hike today, but now it’s raining so let’s put on our rain gear before we go.”

In life, things often don’t go as just as we expect or hope they will. Being able to be flexible and roll with the changes is an important skill for our children to develop early on. Playing in the rain instead of letting it ruin our plans, is one simple way to model this.

A little boy in rain gear playing in the rain

Rain Gear  

You’ve probably heard the saying, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing.” This is especially true on rainy days, when wearing the right gear can make all the difference between a fun outing and a miserable one. 

Here is a quick overview of what to consider when you’re getting dressed for playing in the rain. For detailed information about outfitting your family to go hiking in the rain, check out this post.

Check out our comprehensive Best Rain Gear for Kids post!

Base Layers 

What you and your little ones wear under your rain gear is an important part of how comfortable you’ll be while playing in the rain for an extended time. Waterproof material does not breathe well, which naturally encourages sweating.

To help you and your kids stay dry, be sure to choose breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics. Cotton is not a good choice because it stays soggy once wet. 

Check out our Best Kids Base Layers and Best Base Layers for Women.

Rain Bibs 

Rain bibs are a great option for keeping kids comfortable in wet conditions. When it’s raining they can be paired with a rain jacket to keep the upper body dry. But, when the rain stops they can be worn alone and still offer lots of coverage for playing in mud and puddles. 

We’ve had lots of rain bibs over the years, but our favorites are Reima’s Lammikko Rain Bibs. These bibs are super durable and reliably keep my daughter dry through hours of puddle splashing. For more recommendations for rain bibs for kids, check out this blog post

Rain Jacket 

A good rain jacket is essential for playing in the rain. When it’s really pouring, you can pull the hood on and still stay quite dry and comfortable. 

My daughter loves Cat & Jack’s Kid’s Rain Coats and has had several over the years. These jacket come in fun prints and keep her comfortable, even in the torrential downpours characteristic of our rainy seasons.

My 1 year old son has the REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket (and matching REI Co-op Rainier Rain Pants). These are made from a lighter weight material, yet still hold up well in heavy rain. I appreciate that they are a little more flexible and breathable because he is always on the move and tends to over heat easily.

Rain Suit 

One piece rain suits can be a great option for keeping kids dry and cozy while playing in the rain. They offer full coverage and there’s no gaps between the pants and jacket for water to seep into as little ones play. 

My daughter had the Oaki Rain/Trail Suit when she was a toddler and we loved how easy it was to put on when she wanted to head out to play in wet weather. 

Another of the Tales of a Mountain Mama team’s favorite rain suits is the Tuffo Muddy Buddy Rain Suit. You can find the full review here

While I do love the simplicity of a one-piece rain suit, as my daughter’s gotten older we’ve switched to a rain jacket and rain bibs combo instead. This allows for more versatility.

My daughter likes wearing just her rain bibs when it’s wet and muddy outside, but not actively raining. And there are times she prefers to wear just her rain jacket, so for her it’s nice to have the flexibility of separate pants and a jacket. 

Rain Boots 

A good pair of rain boots are essential for wet weather. Rain boots often have better traction than other types of footwear, making them perfect for navigating slippery wet surfaces safely. And they keep your feet nice and dry, which is key to being able to enjoy yourself outdoors on a rainy day. Find our recommendations for our favorite rain boots for kids on the blog

Our team loves Bogs Boots for Kids and Stonz Rain Boots. These KidORCA Over the Knee Rain Boots, a rain boot with an attached wader top that helps keep kids feet dry even when splashing in puddles or wading in creeks, are another cool option to consider. Check out the full review here.

Rain Hats

Waterproof hats can come in handy to help keep your little one’s head dry. Some are designed just for rain days, but others can double as sun hats too. Check out our favorite rain hats here

Rain Mittens 

On cold rainy days, waterproof mittens keep little hands dry and comfortable. Reima rain mittens are a team favorite. They offer two different options. Reima Puro Waterproof Lined Rain Mittens feature a knit lining and Reima Kura Waterproof Shell Rain Mittens are unlined. Check out our blog post about Reima Rain Gear here to read more about their other great rain gear options.

Girl in a rain coat rescuing a worm
Rescuing worms on a rainy day

Playing in the Rain 

There are so many fun ways to enjoy rainy days! Here are a few simple ideas to inspire you to get outside and enjoy the wet weather. 

Jump in Puddles 

Rainy days lend the perfect opportunity for jumping in puddles! This is an age-old activity that kids love. Just bring your little ones outside on a rainy day and they will probably gravitate towards the puddles without any prompting.

Make Waterworks

Encourage your kids to dig “rivers” between puddles using a stick or shovel. They can build
“dams” using mud to further direct the water flow. Experimenting with different waterworks is a playful way for them to explore how water moves.

Water Fights  

Rainy days are perfect for water fights. Stomp in puddles and try to splash each other (one of my kids’ favorite games) or fill up water guns and have water wars. 

Rescue Worms

On rainy days, worms come out of the water logged soil. Some kids may enjoy moving worms off of sidewalks or driveways, or out of puddles to drier grassy areas. Though admittedly, other children may find worms too “gross” to enjoy this activity.

Construct a Fort to Hide from the Rain

It can be a fun challenge for kids to see if they can construct a shelter that offers protection from the rain. Older children can probably manage this on their own, but littler ones might need a hand. 

Build your fort with natural materials or things that you already have on hand. You can keep it pretty simple. For example, sticks collected from the yard and an old tarp are a great start.

Build Boats 

Try building boats out of natural materials like bark, sticks, large leaves, and seed pods. Once the construction is complete, plop them into puddles to see if they float. 

A mud pie decorated with flowers
A mud pie decorated with leaves and flowers

Playing in the Mud 

It may be messy, but kids have so much fun playing in the mud! Studies have also found that playing in the dirt is actually healthy for kids. Some exposure to bacteria is beneficial for strengthening children’s immune systems microbiomes, which leads to better overall health.

Make Mud Pies

Making mud pies is one of my daughter’s favorite ways to play with mud. She loves to decorate hers with flowers and leaves from our yard and gardens. For lots of fun mud kitchen recipes and ideas from The Tales of a Mountain Mama team, check out our Mud Kitchen Recipes and Ideas post!

Make Mud Stew 

Give kids a bucket or old pot to make mud stew in. Just add mud, water, and whatever natural elements are available. Leaves, flower petals, pine needles, and pine cones are just a few options. 

Paint with Mud 

To make mud paint: Add about ½ cup of mud to a small container. Add a little water if needed to reach your desired consistency. It’s best to leave it a little thicker so that it doesn’t run. Add a drop or two of food coloring, if desired. Then, using old paint brushes (you don’t want to use your nicest paint brushes for this) paint away. 

Build Mud Castles 

Kids love building sand castles, but this activity doesn’t have to be limited to the beach. Use mud to create castles and then use rocks, flowers, sticks, leaves, and other natural elements to decorate them.

Create a Race Track or Construction Site

Take toy cars or construction trucks outdoors and build a race track or construction site for them. Of course you’ll only want to use toys that you don’t mind getting dirty, as this is a very messy activity! 

Two kids playing in the rain

Rainy Day Learning  

Wet weather provide plenty of playful learning opportunities. Here are a few suggestions to help spark your children’s curiosity and expand their knowledge on rainy days.

Make a Rain Gauge 

Make your own rain gauge and use it to measure the rainfall in your area. You can also talk about the importance of rain with your children. This can include a discussion of how rain helps crops grow, keeps humans & animals properly hydrated, and fills lakes & rivers, etc.

Look at the Clouds  

Observe the clouds. Talk about the types of clouds that you see on rainy and stormy days and how they are different than other types of clouds.

Learn About What Makes it Rain

Rainy days are the perfect opportunity to discuss the water cycle and talk about why it rains. This video gives a good overview of the water cycle for kids.

Observe a River or Creek

If you have a river or creek nearby, visit it with your children to observe how it has changed since the rains started. Depending on how much rainfall you’ve had, you may notice that the river/creek is a lot different. Ask your children to list the differences and talk about why they may have occurred.

You may notice the following changes:

  • debris in the water, including tree branches, litter, or even rocks
  • higher, faster, or dirtier water
  • the sound of the water moving may be louder

Playing in the Rain is a Fun Way to Enjoy Dreary Days

Rainy days don’t have to keep you inside. Reframing the way you look at wet weather can go a long way in helping you to get outside on dreary days. Once you get out the door, you might just find that playing in the rain and mud is actually a lot of fun!

A kid in a rain suit playing in the mud

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