By Phaela Peck
If you search for fun things to do with kids in the rainy season, you’ll invariably get a list of great indoor play spaces and other indoor activities. But I’m here to tell you that some of the best things to do in the rainy season are OUTSIDE in the RAIN. As a long time resident of the Bay Area, an educator and a mom, I’ve got lots of experience in rainy day educational fun. Here are 10 great activities to do with your kids or your class during this (hopefully) very rainy winter. Make sure you’ve got a rain coat, boots, a willingness to get wet and you’re all set!
- The Great Puddle Hunt.
Location: Any street
This may seem obvious, but when is the last time you actually stopped everything, geared up and went outside looking for nothing but puddles to splash in? Stop and look in the puddles. What do you see? Who is visiting the puddles?
Advanced Puddle Hunting.
Location: Street or schoolyard
Where is the water going and collecting? Is it collecting in one place because the storm drain is clogged? What’s in the storm drain? How many storm drains are on your street or schoolyard? Are there certain places that are getting flooded? Why? Examining how the water is moving and where it is collecting can help you understand what happens when it rains and how your actions can affect your watershed.
- The Muddy Hike.
Location: Park (Try a hike at Alvarado Park in Richmond)
Think of a trail you’ve only hiked on a dry, sunny day. Now visit that same trail on a wet, rainy day. Take note of what’s different. Do you see and hear the same birds? What do the plants look like? What sounds do you notice? Try and notice as many new things as you can.
- Build a Shelter.
Location: Somewhere on your hike
Challenge yourself and some friends, a group of students or your kids to build a shelter that keeps out the rain. Make sure to follow local regulations for disturbing plants and trees. This is an incredibly fun way to engage with the natural environment.
- An FBI Hunt.
Location: Park or schoolyard
Many members of nature’s FBI (fungus, bacteria and invertebrates, which help things to decompose) come out in the winter season. Look for (but don’t pick) mushrooms, lichen, worms and other small creatures. How has their presence or behavior changed due to the rain?
- Leaf or Stick Racing.
Location: Bridge above a creek (a great example is the bridge over the creek that feeds into Jewel Lake in Tilden Park)
Racing a leaf or a stick from one side of the bridge to the other is actually a great way to really pay attention to how the water is moving and what is moving in the water. Are your leaves getting stuck in one area and if so, why? What might that mean for the organisms downstream?
- Exploring Urban Runoff.
Location: Any street or schoolyard
Compare what happens to water as it runs over pavement, asphalt, grass or soil. What happens? Why is urban runoff a problem and on which surfaces? Do you see any trash? What is happening to the trash?
- Visit a Rain Garden or Bioswale.
Location: Rain garden or bioswale (for example go to The Watershed Project’s bioswale and rain garden on the Richmond Greenway at 21st)
See firsthand how rain gardens and bioswales are helping to mitigate urban runoff pollution. Watch what happens to the water as it runs into the plants or bioswale. Discuss what would happen to the runoff if the rain garden or bioswale was not there.
- Beach Combing and Wave Watching.
Location: Any local beach (such as Point Molate Beach Park)
What happens on the beach when it rains? What are the shorebirds doing? If there is a storm, wave watching can be very fun, but make sure to do it safely!
- What Happened to That Plant?
Location: Any street, park or schoolyard
Start by taking a walk before the rain (if possible). Note what’s growing in your yard or on your street. What do the plants look like? What color are they? Visit those same plants during the rain. What is happening now? And finally, a few days after a good rain, what do you notice? Has anything changed? Why is rain so important?