Plan ahead to prepare for the next soggy day, so whenever the rain puts a damper on your kid’s mood and cabin fever is driving you bonkers, you’ll be ready to snap into action with these quick play-and pretend-infused ideas to keep your child occupied and engaged for hours:

– Put on a show with homemade puppets: Collect and buy: glitter, dried beans, sequins, tinsel, string, ribbons, yarn, unique buttons and appliques, macaroni, seashells, etc. (beware of small objects, though, that could pose a choking hazard for small children.) Be sure to also keep your puppet box stocked with must-have items like glue, scissors, washable markers, Popsicle sticks, a needle and thread (when sewing, be sure to supervise young children or do sewing projects yourself). Also, keep a few small cardboard boxes, folded and flattened for easy storage, to cut out and color for some nifty background scenes and props.

– Build a fort.

Get out some old sheets, blankets, or comforters and drape them over the living or dining room furniture. Use ribbons from your sewing kit, or hair scrunchies and hair ties to secure the bottoms of the fabrics to chairs and tables. Have your child create a secret password that allows outsiders (i.e. Mom and Dad) into the private hideaway. Give your kid a battery-operated camping lantern, sleeping bags, camping-themed books and flashlights for that added outdoorsy appeal.

– Create a rainy-day dress-up chest.

Keep an eye out for interesting old clothes items and accessories around the house, on discount racks and at dollar stores or thrift shops. Stock up on scarves, funky hats, costume jewelry, shoes, shirts (oversized white shirts for doctors’ lab coats, Hawaiian shirts for a luau, etc.) dresses, skirts and jackets. Put all of the items in a sturdy plastic storage bin or a large tin left over from the holidays. Then pull out the dress-up chest for plenty of imagination-infused entertainment for many soggy days to come.

-Make thank-you gifts for the important people in your child’s life

Bake a few batches of cookies that your child can lovingly decorate and wrap with colored plastic wrap and ribbons; or create thank-you cards on regular old printer paper or construction paper. Add special glued-on adornments like family photos, ribbons, glitter, and buttons. Help improve your child’s spelling and letter identification skills by letting her type and print out her own messages in fancy fonts on the computer. Instead of doing crafts just to get through the day, this project will help your child feel like her time and efforts are being spent on a greater purpose – giving to someone she cares about.

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