Rain makes play!

Spring is around the corner – and we all know that in the UK, that means we are likely to have plenty of rain…

With a climate that so often results in rain we need to have a very positive attitude to it!  Children love the rain and will delight in any opportunity to play in it or with it.  Rain is water in its natural habitat, doing what it naturally does.  Given just how important water is to every aspect of life on our planet, as well as the critical role it plays in so many fundamental processes on earth, it is perhaps not surprising that children are so strongly drawn to rain and that rainwater makes such a compelling play material.

The key that unlocks this wonderful resource is for every child and adult to have suitable clothing, combined with enthusiasm from staff that matches the children’s.  Water play is a great way to make the most of a rainy day and all the many ways to interact with water outdoors will be more multi-sensory and have more meaning for young children if they can carry them out while it is falling from the sky and making everything (including themselves) wet!

Imagine what a transformation would take place for children’s play outdoors if we looked upon rain as the wonderful, magical resource that young children so clearly know that it is.

Imagine if we were to say, “Look it’s raining; quick, let’s get outside!”

Perfectly timed for this wet season is the publication of the lovely new picture book from Clare Thompson, Rain Child.  Using transient art from found natural materials set against highly effective watercolour scenes, this (almost) wordless story “follows an enthusiastic child and an initially reluctant grown-up as they venture outdoors into the wild, watery landscape of a rainy day”.  Ann and Clare, the Naturally Creative team, have also produced a companion booklet ‘Get Naturally Creative: 20 fun ways to play on a rainy day, which is full of imaginative prompts to set rainy play going.

So, continuing our theme of children’s book collections around a nature-based theme (see dandelions here, rocks here and birds here), this post celebrates yesterday’s World Book Day with 18 further picture books for encouraging appreciation of rain’s beauty, curiosity and marvel at the behaviour of rainwater and, especially, play with the rain as perfect play partner it is just waiting to be!

1. Listen to the Rain Bill Martin Jr, John Archambault & James Endicott (Henry Holt & Company 1988) – “Listen to the rain, the whisper of the rain, the slow soft sprinkle, the drip-drop tinkle, the first wet whisper of the rain”. Lovely words and illustrations.

2. Raindrops Roll April Pulley Sayre (Beech Lane Books 2015) – Raindrops drop. They plop. They patter. They spatter. And in the process, they make the whole world feel fresh and new and clean.

3. Who Likes Rain? Wong Herbert Yee (McGraw-Hill Education 2010) – Spring is here and that means April showers. It’s time to put on a raincoat, hat and boots and head outdoors.

4. Singing in the Rain Tim Hopgood, Arthur Freed & Nacio Herb Brown (Oxford University Press 2017) – As adults we tend to think of rain as an inconvenience rather than the joyous thing that it is. Next time it rains, step outside, feel the rain on your face, and give the clouds up above your biggest smile!’

5. Wet World Norma Simon (Walker Books 1995) – An evocative portrayal of a child’s experience of a rainy day. How lovely to put on a hat and coat and boots and go out in the rain, into the splashing, sprinkling, dripping world, where cars swish and wipers whish.

6. Splosh! (Little Kippers) Mick Inkpen (Hodder Children’s Books 1998) – Meet Hedgehog and the three rabbits who join Kipper for some rainy day fun in an upside-down umbrella.

7. Kipper’s Rainy Day Mick Inkpen (Hodder Children’s Books 2001) – Kipper loves the rain! A lift-the-flap adventure with Kipper to find all the animals who love the rain too and some that don’t.

8. Rain Sam Usher (Templar Publishing 2016) – Sam and Grandpa have a magical adventure while going to post a letter in a downpour.

9. James and the Rain Karla Kuskin & Reg Cartwright (Simon & Schuster Books for Young readers 1995) – A rhyming counting book in which James sets off in a downpour to learn rainy day games from the animals.

10. On a Magical Do-nothing Day Beatrice Alemagna (Thames & Hudson 2018) – A child learns how wonderful the outdoor world can be on a rain-filled day.

11. The Rainmaker Barbara Todd (Annick Press 2003) – Clarence meets the marvellous man who owns the tap: the Rainmaker! He asks Clarence to take over and shows him the tricks – and drips – of the trade.

12. Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain Verna Aardema & Beatriz Vidal (Macmillan Children’s Books 2019) – In this traditional tale, told as a rhyming story, a young herd boy Ki-pat must find a way to end the dreadful drought that has come to the beautiful Kapiti Plain and save the animals that live there.

13. Lila and the Secret of Rain David Conway & Jude Daly (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books 2009) – How Lila saves the village by telling the sky the saddest thing she knows.

14. The Thingamabob Il Sung Na (Meadowside Children’s Books 2008) – One day he found the thingamabob. He did not know what it was, so he decided to find out!

15. The Rhythm of the Rain Graham Baker-smith (Templar Publishing 2018) – From tiniest raindrop to deepest ocean, this celebration of the water cycle captures the remarkable movement of water across the earth.

16. Puddle Hunters Kirsty Murray and Karen Blair (Allen & Unwin Children’s Books 2018) – A glorious celebration of splashing and squelching all the way home.

17. The Biggest Muddy Puddle in the World Peppa Pig (Ladybird 2012) – Peppa Pig and her little brother George don’t mind rain, because rain means muddy puddles to jump in!

18. Watch Out for Muddy Puddles Ben Faulks and Ben Corr (Bloomsbury Children’s Books 2016) – Because you never really know what might be lurking down in the depths below!

You can find much more on providing water play outdoors, along with extensive collections of children’s picture books for supporting water play, in Playing and Learning Outdoors: the practical guide and sourcebook for excellence in outdoor provision and practice with young children (3rd edition, Routledge 2020), available from Books Education at 20% discount to participants in the ECO meshwork.

Book covers are sourced from Amazon

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