It’s Raining…What Do We Do Now?by WFP Admin added on 8 November 2019, Comments Off on It’s Raining…What Do We Do Now? , posted in Blog
By Kelly Petersen, Outdoor Curriculum Specialist
Ah, autumn and winter in the Pacific Northwest. Short on daylight and often raining, many families feel stuck inside, but you don’t have to be! Just because it’s wet, don’t feel cooped up; get outside and enjoy all that the area has to offer.
Here’s teacher Kelly’s easy recipe for rainy outdoor fun in 2 easy steps:
Step One: Wear the Gear!
A great pair of boots is essential, not just for your children, but for you, too! Don’t feel obligated to purchase super expensive ones either (although Bogs are beautiful, warm, and I’d love a pair myself), I got my rain boots at Wal-Mart 10 years ago! If it’s chilly, a good pair of boot-liners make all the difference between a fun-filled afternoon of puddle jumping and snail hunting and a miserable and cold slog.
We live in the land of Gore-Tex, Eddie Bauer, and Amazon, so there are plenty of good quality rain coat options. If you’re looking around Value Village or Goodwill, keep your eye out for the brands above, or try for a waterproof exterior with fleece lining to keep the water out, but the heat in. A solid pair of rain pants is also a must-have for anyone spending more than 20 minutes in the rain. Most of your children have rain pants or a Muddy Buddy, why not you as well? And getting yourself some water repellent spray for reapplication is a great idea (Woodinville Target usually has some in the shoe department).
Ok, now we’re outfitted for the drippy day…what next?
Step Two: Go Outside!
Think back to when you were growing up. What are your favorite play memories? If you’re being completely honest with yourself, they were probably spent outdoors. In How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott Sampson, he shares that “when asked to think of their favorite childhood memory, 96.5% of adults thought of an outdoor experience.” Wow. I know mine were, and growing up in Seattle, many of mine include mud. I have noticed at preschool, the children have so much fun playing in the mud, that even on dry days, it’s quite common to find them making mud puddles.
If you have the space in your yard, designate an area where your children are free to dig. I guarantee they will love to have the freedom to do whatever they want there. This article by Community Playthings is written with a preschool outdoor area in mind, but could easily be a good addition to a backyard as well. Old kitchen utensils and cookware are as much fun as buckets and shovels, and when combined they will occupy your children for hours!
Speaking of which, today’s children, on average, are spending only half as much time outdoors as their parents did. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control in the US recommend a minimum of one hour per day of outdoor play, and many pediatric occupational therapists recommend three!
Let’s say your yard doesn’t allow much space for digging. Maybe you’re in a condo, an apartment, or a development where yard-space wasn’t a priority to the builder. Have no fear! There are so many parks in our area in which to have rainy fun as well. And on the weekends and school breaks, we’d love to have you use our outdoor classroom as well (but only the outdoor classroom, please respect the policy outlined in your handbook).
When we think about parks, many only consider the playgrounds in the area, but opening up our view when it comes to rainy play is a good idea, as much of the playground equipment can become a mite slippery and a tad dangerous when wet. However, by storing an old towel in the back of your car, you can take advantage of sunbreaks and wipe down those slides and monkey bars to give your children that option.
Walking in the rain through a park has always been one of my favorite things to do with my own children. They always find the best puddles to jump in, the most amazingly huge earthworms crossing our path, and open up to tell me anything and everything they’ve been thinking about or worrying about.
Spending time outside has so many developmental benefits to children. The weather shouldn’t be an excuse to stay indoors, unless it’s truly dangerous, as opposed to just damp.
Here is a great list of local outdoor spaces for you to explore this rainy season:
Woodin Creek Park
Wilmot Gateway Park
Rotary Community Park
Gold Creek County Park
Miners Corner Park
Paradise Valley Conservation Area
Edith Moulton Park
Redmond Watershed Preserve
Bridle Trails Park
Bothell Landing Park