This time of year there are usually a lot of rainy, cold days that are just best spent indoors.

With that in mind I would like to share some ideas for how to spend those rainy days with your children.

I realize it is just the day after Christmas and you probably have lots of toys to play with. But when the new wears off of these toys you may have to come up with some ways to just use your imagination.

Tap into your young child's imagination with a fantasy theme day.

For those of you cooped up on a winter day and for those of you who are simply bored now and in need of a new idea, how about a Magical Fantasy Day?

You can tap into your young child's imagination with a minimum of effort and materials on hand.

Invite a few kids and have each bring a cape or make one from a towel or piece of fabric.

A bit of costume helps imaginations run wild. Magic wands and crowns help complete the costume and make fun projects for the afternoon.

Magic Wands: Cut star shapes from lightweight cardboard and tape to a large tongue depressor or craft stick. Have kids decorate the star with shiny stickers or color with gold and silver crayons. Then tie on some streamers.

Royal Crowns: Cut lengths of heavy paper long enough to go around a child's head about five inches wide. Have kids color them with markers and crayons. Remind them that crowns often have jewels of different colors in them. After you cut them out, put each child's decorated crown around his or her head and tape to fit.

Magic Play dough: Make a batch of play dough. Add sparkling plastic confetti (not metallic - it can cut) instead of food coloring. The white play dough will shine where light hits the confetti. Provide star cookie cutters for the children to make magic star shapes.

Royal Dining: Finger gelatin is a tasty, colorful treat that can look like jewels. Kids can pretend they are eating rubies or emeralds. Follow the directions on the flavored gelatin box. You may not even need the above activities once children are in costume and playing. Invite them to play Kings, Queens and Knights and watch their imaginations take over. You may even see they are having more fun with homemade items than they do with Christmas gifts you purchased. You can remind the children that this is the way children many years ago played each day.

MORE RAINY DAY

ACTIVITIES FOR

CHILDREN

The winter months are cold, wet or otherwise inhospitable in most parts of the country.

Keep your kids occupied indoors during inclement weather with these creative ideas on "make-believe" kits for indoor play.

Young children like to recreate experiences they have had personally when they play.

With this in mind, create kits that allow children to pretend they are camping, cleaning or keeping house.

Camping Kit: It's not hard to simulate the great outdoors inside the house. All you need are a few things to help your child's imagination along. You might include the following:

• Blanket (to drape over a table for a tent)

• Sleeping bag

• Small pots and pans

• Red and yellow tissue (wad up for "fire")

• Flashlight (most popular item)

• Backpacks

• Storybook about camping

• List of songs to sing around the campfire

• Marshmallows to pretend "roast"

Cleaning Kit: Children love this activity. Put together a cleaning bucket, with a dusting rag (or feather duster), a small sponge and a scrubber or scrub brush. Put a small amount of water in the bottom of the bucket. Let your child help clean by washing down the cupboard doors or dusting those hard-to-reach areas like table and chair legs.

Remember, children love to act out what they hear in stories. The more books you read with them, the richer their play life will be. Extend their repertoire of dramatic play by reading a wide variety of stories with them.

UPCOMING EVENTS

• Dec. Jan. 3 - County 4-H office closed for Christmas and New Year's holiday. Until next year, I wish each of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!