rainy day

Rainy-day activities that won't cost you a penny

Hands up if you're fresh out of ideas for what to do on a rainy day? Well, you're not the only one. And when you're a parent, coming up with enough indoor activities for the kids can be easier said than done – particularly when half term comes around and you need to keep them entertained for whole days at a time.

So here's seven great rainy-day activities to keep yourself (and any little ones) happy – whether you want to be indoors or out. And the best part? They won't cost you a penny.

For the whole family


1 Get closer to nature

If you don't mind donning your wellies and raincoat, why not make the most of any free farms or nature reserves in your area? You might even find you have the place to yourself, thanks to the weather putting other people off. But in fact, many have inside areas, such as barns, petting sections, cafes and viewing stations, so you can get up close to the animals and stay dry at the same time.

If you live in a city or don't have a farm nearby, head to your local park instead and stomp through the leaves and puddles while you enjoy the fresh air.

2 Make the most of free post

Keep an eye out for vouchers (you can often find them on cereal boxes and children's snacks) that you save up and send off in return for magazines or activities for your little ones. Plan ahead and don't wait until the weather starts to turn before you send off for them, so they're ready to go for those rainy days.

Got an avid reader in the family? Put a smile on their face and sign up for a free magazine or subscription. There are plenty to choose from covering a range of topics, such as science, nature sports and trivia – enough to keep your little bookworm busy for hours. Cup of tea, anyone?

3 Get arty with rocks

A great way to pass the time when the sun disappears. Simply paint a rock, then when there's a gap in the rain, head out and hide it for someone else to discover and make them smile. It's easy and best of all – it's free.

Check out local rock-hunting groups on Facebook – these can usually be found by searching 'UK Rocks', plus your area, on Facebook.

There are two ways to get involved:

Hiders: Grab your wellies and head outside to find some suitably-smooth rocks. Come back home and wait for the rain to ease off while you paint on your own designs or messages. It's a great way to get creative because every rock is different. Then snap a photo, pop the name of your local rocks group on the back of it and tell the Facebook page what type of place you've hidden it in. This gives others the chance to hunt it out.

Finders: Not feeling very arty? You can still get involved by finding rocks. Join your local group and when people post rocks and locations, head outside (take a brolly if it's still raining) and start your treasure hunt.

4 Make your own slime

Ask any child if they would love a bit of slime, and you're bound to hear a resounding "yes!". But there's no need to go out and buy it ready-made – you can make your own from ingredients you most probably already have stored in your cupboards. What's more, this recipe only takes 10 minutes to make, so the kids will be having fun in a flash.


Step 1: Pour 2 (100ml) bottles of washable school glue into a medium bowl and stir in some food colouring and glitter, if desired.

Step 2: Add 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to the glue mixture and stir until smooth.

Step 3: Pour in 2 tablespoons of contact lens/saline solution and stir slowly. The mixture should then begin to harden and become stringy.

Step 4: Knead the slime by hand until smooth and then it's ready for the little ones to play!

For the adults

adults at home

5 Take a free online class or course

Why not use a rainy day at home as the perfect time to expand your knowledge?

There are plenty of free online classes you could take to improve your skills in a certain area. If you're thinking of learning something brand new, why not browse for a free course which can either be done in a day or over a longer period of time? There are lots of free learning sites to choose from online and some even come with certification once completed.

6 Enjoy history for less

Are you a history fan? If you're willing to venture out in dreary weather, it's likely you'll be rewarded with fewer crowds and more space to explore. And you don't have to fork out for a costly membership to enjoy places of historical interest, either. The English Heritage Society, for example, looks after over 400 historic places, but few people realise that 250 of these are free to visit. From remote stone circles and ruined abbeys, to Norman castles and Roman temples – you can explore thousands of years of history for absolutely nothing.

7 Culture on a shoestring

Many museums around the country are free to explore. Visiting one is a great way to spend some quality time by yourself or with a loved one, and you won't need to give the weather forecast a second thought.

London museums worth a look include the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Horniman Museum, V&A Museum of Childhood, the British Transport Museum and the British Museum. Bring a packed lunch from home and you've got yourself a free day out.

Capital out of reach? You can find out about local museums in your area by heading to the Visit Britain website.

8 Throw a B.Y.O.E Party

A Bring Your Own Everything party is a perfect opportunity to invite some friends over for a fun get together that isn't going to break the bank. Guests are encouraged to bring food and drink for everyone to share, and as the host you can show off your skills by making some homemade treats or mixers. As an added bonus, throw in some board games or a movie marathon as entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

Published: 28 September 2018