January can be a dreary month. Some parts of the country experience a lovely month of weather after the holidays, but most of the country is in a weather rut. Here in West Michigan, January, February and March are very possibly the worst months of the year for the weather. Crummy weather often leads to bored kids.
And truly, whether you have bad weather or not, the lull after the Christmas season can sometimes feel like a downer for kids and families.
So, here is a list of fun activities for January (and February) that you can do with your kids to keep the busy. Busy kids are happy kids.
Outdoor snow activities
Have a snowball fight
Just because it has snowed doesn’t mean you’re stuck inside. This can be a fun way to get moving and have a great time together.
Make a snowman
See how big you can make it and then make a little one. Or have a snowman building contest.
Go snow shoeing
This can be a great way to explore during the winter. You can visit a local forest preserve and hike even in deep snow.
Oftentimes there will be ski hills near major cities that you can utilize. Or, if you live near a known ski resort or hill you can go there. It can be a fun, family outing or even a little mini winter getaway.
Find a local big hill and go sledding or make your own in the backyard
We have a big backyard and are lucky that we have some great snow hills, but there are also places at local schools and parks that have perfect places to sled. Check out your local schools or even the park district and see if you can find a good spot.
Go ice skating outside
Most cities have a place where you can go ice skating in the winter and then you can make a day of it in your downtown. If you’re not near a big city, check out your local ice ring. Almost every area has one even if you have to drive a bit.
Have a winter bonfire
Plan an evening outside in the snow and bring hot chocolate to sip as you roast marshmallows.
Take a sleigh ride
Check out Google and see if you have any places near you offering winter sleigh rides. I bet you do!
Build an igloo
If you have a lot of snow, it can be fun to build and igloo in it. You probably did this when you were a kid and it can be a fun family day showing your kids how to do it too. Maybe have a cup of hot chocolate inside.
This is such a fun thing to do as a family! Find a place where you can rent them for an afternoon, put on your helmet and have fun together!
Fat tire biking
For older kids, this could be a great way to spend the day. Fat tire bikes can ride on snow and are safer than snowmobiles. See if you have a place near your where you can rent them.
Visit frozen waterfalls
Some National Parks are still open this time of year and it can be fun to hike to beautiful waterfalls to see them frozen in time.
Winter nature walk
This can be a great time of year to look at nature. How do things work and survive when it’s colder weather? See what you and your family can find.
Play pond hockey
Make sure the ice is safe and shallow and then grab your stick and head out! Break your family into teams and see who can score the most.
Similar to sledding, tubbing can be so much fun! There are often places that will rent you tubes at local sledding hills. If you don’t have something like that, blow up some of the beach floaties and try taking them down a hill!
Go ice fishing
If you have someone in your family who knows how to do this, that can be a bonus. If you don’t, see if there is a local organization you can tag along with! Google is your friend here.
Explore a cave
Some places will have this more available than other’s but if you Google you can usually find a cave in your local area to visit. The larger ones will have tours too!
Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean cookie baking has to stop.
Make dinner as a family
This can be a really fun way to get your kids involved in the kitchen and it can help them appreciate all the work that goes into making dinner for the family.
Don’t be overly serious about this one, but it can be fun to do. If you have really young kids, use them as the weights for your daily exercise. If you have older kids, do an exercise video together and see who makes it the longest
Volunteer somewhere together
Just because the holiday season is over, doesn’t mean the need for volunteers has gone away. During the winter soup kitchens always need help and you can also bag groceries or boxes of food at some food pantries.
Play a game
Have a video game contest
Whether you have a brand-new video game console, or you have the old school Nintendo, make it a contest with your kids and see if you can beat them. Good luck, parents.
Ice skate indoors
Check out your local ice rink. More than likely there is one near you!
Read a book together OR start a book club
For younger readers, take turns reading in a small chapter book. For older kids, start a book club and read a new one each week. Alternate picking each week. It’s a great way for you to introduce them to some of your childhood favorites while they get to show you what they’re interested in too.
Netflix and chill
Sometimes you need a down day. Or a few down days. Since a lot of kids get sick during this time of year (and a lot of parents too), a day of binging a favorite TV show may not be a bad thing.
Visit a dinosaur museum or planetarium
I realize you might not have these things near you. But, if you’re near a city these can be great day trips. In Chicago the Field Museum is a great choice for kids who love dinosaurs and a trip to the planetarium will help them to explore the stars while keeping two feet on the ground.
I spent plenty of Friday nights at roller rinks in my middle school years. I’m still horrible at it but it can be a really fun thing to do with your family if you need an indoor activity.
Arcade or game center
Most places have something like this near them. Whether it’s a local arcade or someplace like Dave & Busters, grab a bag of quarters and head out the door!
Watch an old movie together
Think Babes in Toyland, the original Willy Wonka, Wizard of Oz, Escape to Witch Mountain, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, an American Tale, The Black Stallion, etc. For older kids think about some of your favorites – An Affair to Remember, Casablanca, A Tale of Two Cities, The Shop Around the Corner (the basis for the movie You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan), Meet Me In St. Louis, Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday, etc. If your older child like horror movies watch the original Frankenstein, Dracula, etc.
Checkout the local bowling alley and see what fun activities they have going on. Maybe it’s just a lazy regular afternoon or maybe they will have Cosmic Bowling and you can try your hand at getting a strike when the lights are a bit crazy.
Feed the animals
Make an outdoor bird feeder out of pinecones, peanut butter and birdseed. Hang it on the porch where you can see the birds come and have a little treat.
Visit the Children’s Museum
The local children’s museum is often a great place for the colder months. They generally switch out exhibits from time to time so there might be something new to see. Larger museums might also have daily activities happening that your kids will love.
Visit the library
The local library can be a savior during the winter months. With different activities and reading hours, something is sure to be happening. Check out your local libraries’ schedule. They usually post it monthly or seasonally.
Make a sun catcher
You can make these with tissue paper and construction paper, or you can make Slime Planet Sun Catchers like these.
Make a winter collage
If you’ve done the winter walk idea above, you can make an artistic college out of the items you’ve found on the walk.
Make science happen
Draw full-sized pictures of each other
You can get a big roll of craft paper here and then trace one another. Let your family member decide your outfit, hairstyle, etc.
Visit the aquarium
This can be a beautiful place to learn and explore when the weather is bad. It can be a good memory for families to have together too.
Pottery or painting
There are a ton of places that are now teaching pottery or painting. You can take older children to these and have a great day. For younger children, the painting places often have characters they can and different sculptures they can make their own. Check out places like the Painted Penguin.
Have a DIY spa day
Maybe your kids won’t be into this, but if you have children that love nail polish and getting their hair done in fun ways then this could be a great way to spend the afternoon at home.
Maybe it’s the last thing you want to do after the holiday cookies, but your kids will love it. The local YMCA usually has a pool and sometimes the park district does too. Check out both to see what their rates are.
Go to the movies
Whether there is a new movie out you want to see, or something you missed over the holidays now is the perfect time to get to the theater. If you’re bringing your family, try the matinées to save money. Get your own candy at Walgreens (because it’s cheaper) or visit the dollar show theater and see what they have on the big screen.
Make cards for neighbors or the local senior center
Everyone loves a card and homemade cards are often the most special. Have your kids fold a piece of paper in half and draw to brighten someone’s day.
Host a Winter Blues party
Whether this is a kids’ party, or a family party is up to you, but invite friends and neighbors over for an afternoon to get out of the house. Have blue food and ask that everyone wears blue. It can be a good way to beat the winter blues.
Visit the theater
Whether you have a larger theater near your or just a small, local group (or even just the high school), it can be great to take in a live show together as a family.
Go to a hockey game
Winter sports are in full swing and most towns have a minor league hockey team, even if they don’t have a major one. The games are usually cheaper and can be a ton of fun.
Try an escape room together
This can be a fun activity if you have older children. Get locked up together and get out by using your brains and wits.
Take a cooking or baking class
These can be great for younger children or older children. Look them up in your local area. We have cookie decorating classes that are great for my 8-year-old and then there are more serious classes that would be great for teens.
Visit local historic sites
Whether you have small, historic mansions near you or places like a historic presidential home, check out what local history you can learn right in your area.
Plan your spring garden together
This can be a really fun way to get your kids excited about gardening and growing their food. It can also show them how much work goes into planning out and growing some of the summer vegetables they eat. Let them select some things to plant and take care of throughout the season. If you live in a region that’s milder, you can even start planting some seeds now!
For more family fun ideas, click here.