Trapped indoors? Stave off kiddie cabin fever with these five projects

It’s raining, it’s pouring and the old games are boring. Shake up a stormy afternoon with a few sloppy, gooey, sticky activities that’ll keep little hands and minds occupied till the sun comes out.

Project #1: The Best Bath Ever

Whip up ultra colorful, super-squishable bathtub puffy paint, and tell kids to create their best Kandinsky all over the stall walls. Here’s how to do it: Grate a bar of soap into about 1 cup of flakes. Put the soap in a food processor or blender, then slowly add hot water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture’s soft. Divide the soap mixture into plastic sandwich bags, add food coloring to each, then squish to mix. Snip off the ends and you’ve got piping bags of (washable!) soap paint kids can squeeze all over the tub and tile. Plus, making the mess in the bath is kind of genius, no?

Project #2: DIY Face Paint

Pump lotion—any kind will do—into a few small containers, then squeeze a bit of washable watercolor paint into each dish. Stir in a few pinches of cornstarch until the paint reaches your desired consistency (keep it thick for tinier makeup artists). Get in front of a mirror, dole out brushes or cotton swabs and tell kids to make their best Bozo face … or monster mug, or tiger scowl.

Project #3: Dough 2.0

So, your store-bought stuff is all dried up, and you’re tired of the old flour/salt/water standby? Time to try a new dough. Dump a box of cornstarch in a giant tub and squirt in a can of shaving cream. The resulting bright-white mixture yields ethereal, cloudlike “dough” kids love to smoosh. Want something slimier? Combine equal parts clear school glue and liquid laundry starch in a large glass mixing bowl. Then mix in food coloring and glitter, and let kids run their hands through the ooze.

Project #4: Fashion Moment

Think of it as “Project Runway” for tots, and you’re the host. Squeeze kid-safe fabric paint onto paper plates, and set out brushes, foam stamps and bowls of glitter, beads, ribbon and sequins for decorating. Wrap a T-shirt (upcycle by using an old one) around a piece of thick cardboard to keep it flat, then instruct the “designers” to punk out the plain tees however they wish. When the paint dries, blast their favorite tunes and let them model their couture on the catwalk.

Project #5: BYOB (Bring Your Own Brush)

Bust out the big paper and a rainbow of washable paints, but leave the brushes behind. Instead, go on a family hunt through the house, gathering anything that could be used as a painting instrument. In the bathroom, grab cotton balls, combs and makeup sponges. In the laundry room, round up old rags and spare buttons. Head to the kitchen to boil up a few handfuls of spaghetti and let kids drag the cooled noodles through paint. Then, use textured crackers and cut veggies as stamps. Before you wipe up, let them use their bodies as tools. A giant tummy print might be your most treasured masterpiece.