Things to do on a rainy day

June 21, 2012|Alicia Notarianni | Making Ends Meet

My younger kids started their traditional summer swimming lessons this week.

Usually, the five-day session at a family friend's pool offers a cool reprieve from the scorching sun. Such was not the case on opening day this year.

Given lesson-time temps around 65 degrees with occasional spitting showers, kids were teary-eyed and turning blue in the pool.

"I'm trying extremely hard," my 5-year-old shivered, "but I just can't get warm."

Spurred on by promises of hot chocolate, the group toughed out the hour-long lesson.

Free-time at the end of the hour typically is a popular time of springing from the diving board and frolicking in the blue. But on this cool, dreary day, swimmers made a beeline for the deck begging for towels and warm clothes. Instead of eating their packed lunches and hanging around to play, my kids asked to go home and strapped themselves in the van.

Clearly it wasn't going to be a day of outdoor play. Whether rainy or too darn hot, some days this summer are sure to be more suited to the indoors.

Go-to indoor pastimes have suffered a hit in recent years. Favorite movies only go so far. Too much video gaming, I've observed, short circuits otherwise healthy minds. The glazed-over red-eyed look of the gaming generation fills me with trepidation.

Active, creative, relational activities, on the other hand, bring a pleasing sense of engagement, a bright-eyed glow and the kind of memories you care to share over the years.

Here are a few ideas for summer fun in the house.

Camp in the great indoors. Some years ago, I walked into my son's friend's house for the first time to find an eight-person sleeper tent taking up the entire living room. While admittedly not a decorator's dream, the points for novelty were off the charts. It brought new life to simple activities. Reading, playing cards, an indoor picnic, even just hanging out and chatting is way more fun when you do it in a tent.

Practice spoken word. Improvise poetry with one person saying a line and the next adding a line that rhymes with it. Or create a silly story. Start with only three words, with the next person adding three more and continue on until the story is complete.

Bake something you've never baked before. At the top of my "try-it" list is my mom's pastry creme puffs. The tedious project entails mixing, baking, slicing and scooping out the puffs before concocting an arduous and finicky but oh-so-worth it homemade pudding filling. While the pudding will be my adult challenge, the kids can help. I loved scooping the delicate tissue-y innards from the puffs and sprinkling the caps with powdered sugar as a girl.

Have a tea party. Don your fanciest duds and set the table with Grandma's china. You only live once, so don't be afraid to use it. Make some finger sandwiches. Call over the neighbors or invite your child's dolls and animals. Extended pinkie and polite sipping required.

Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail. Her email address is

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