Rainy day games to keep housebound children entertained

Indoor games can turn a rainy day into fun for kids and adults alike.

It's that time of year when the days are getting shorter and rain is more frequently in the forecast. A gray, dreary day can be a dull situation for an adult, especially one with children to care for.

What do you do with kids who are stuck inside on a rainy day and they've played every video game or seen every DVD at least 50 times.

Why not play a board game, or build a castle, or work on a puzzle together? There are a lot of fun, low-tech ways to keep children entertained when the weather outside is frightful. Here are a few suggestions.

Balance beam
Budding gymnasts will have fun working out on the balance beam. Today's Parent said the beam is actually just a piece of masking tape placed on the floor in a straight line. Let the kids take turns walking in a straight line on the tape to see who can make it back and forth without falling off. Raise the stakes by seeing if they can walk backwards or balance on one foot.

Treasure hunt
Kids can become little detectives when they study clues to find secret treasure. Begin by writing tips on slips of paper and hiding them around the house, with one clue leading to the next. Leave the first clue in an easy-to-spot location like their bed on on the bathroom countertop. Let the final clue reveal the location of the treasure.

Paper bag plays
This game is good for larger groups and older kids. Have them form small groups of two or more and give each one a bag with random items or "props." Give each team a few minutes to come up with a short skit using the prop. If they want, they can vote on the best skit.

Simon Says
This is a classic game that even parents will remember playing. The rules may be simple – players must follow a command but only if the leader says "Simon says…" – but it can be tricky. If a player performs a command without the leader saying "Simon says…," that player is out. The leader can do a few tricks to throw off the players like performing a move without saying anything to see if anyone follows.

Parent's Magazine suggests this game calls for imagination. Have your child make up a story, as wild and funny as they want it to be. One of you add the first sentence, then the other person adds the next line and so on. When the story's done, read it out loud. This game can be played by a large group of children as well.