January is a great time to connect with your kids.
Ok. So anytime is a great time to connect with your kids, but January has a few unique qualities that you can take advantage of right now.
It’s dark. It’s cold. And sometimes, if you are lucky, it is white.
All of these qualities make this the perfect month to cozy up and connect as a family. To make it a bit easier for you this month, I’ve compiled a list of ways you can make some family memories this month.
Before you feel any sort of pressure to attack all of these ideas, let me assure you that I won’t be doing them all.
Instead, I’ve compiled this list for all of us to peruse and then purposefully select the activities that will work best for our family this month. After all, we want to connect with our kids and NOT connect with a “to-do” list.
January Family Activities
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January Family Fun: Embrace the Cold
1. Make a fire. You can do this indoors if you have a fireplace or outdoors at a fire pit. Roast marshmallows and make smores. Make your time around the fire even more unique with magical flames. (see picture on the left)
These little packets burn various colors while in the fire. Of course, you will need to burn them after you have finished roasting any food items.
We have added these Smashmallows to our hot chocolate and they are such a treat.
4. Draw a mug of Hot Cocoa using Chalk Pastels. We drank our own mug of hot cocoa while we drew.
January Family Fun: Embrace Hygge
Unfamiliar with Hygge? You can read all about this Danish practice and adopt the concept in your own home. The closest translation seems to be “coziness” but there is an added sense of contentment.
Use the darkness and the cold to your advantage and connect with your kids purposefully by embracing Hygge.
4. Light Candles. Something about the coziness of candlelight works wonders for conversation. Light them with dinner or after dinner as you talk and clean up. Light them during snowy or cloudy days. Light them while listening to an audiobook together. Use the candlelight to create opportunities to cozy up and connect.
5. Make your own candles. Of course, a great activity to connect with your kids this month is candle making.
If you want something a bit simpler, then try one of these beeswax kits. We made this version last year and are still using a few of our candles. You simply roll them up and make designs with the other sheets of beeswax.
6. Make no-sew fleece blankets together. There are guides all over the internet, but this one includes an interesting way to make the knots. Of course, after making your new blankets you can snuggle with them and watch a great movie.
7. Hang Christmas Lights. I know. Christmas is over. But something about a room of soft Christmas lights brings people together. Select a room in your house where the family can gather and hang up some Christmas lights. Keep them throughout the winter and you might decide that you don’t ever want to take them down.
We live far enough south that it isn’t too cold through much of winter. Last weekend we hung icicle lights on our porch. On the first night that I plugged them in, the kids all gathered on the porch and talked for a half an hour while snuggling under their no-sew fleece blankets.
Something about soft lighting encourages connection and creates that feeling of hygge.
January Family Fun: Embrace Reading Together
8. Snuggle up with a winter-themed picture book.
Check out my list of 100 Picture Books to Read this Winter
If you don’t have time for the whole list, here are a few current recommendations from my house:
Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian
Red Sled by Lita Judge
9. Snuggle up with a family read-aloud book set in winter
Brian’s Winter by Gary Paulsen is a perfect choice if your family has read, Hatchet. This is an alternate ending.
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan is a classic WWII tale set in Norway in 1940. The children transport gold passed the Nazi’s using their sleds.
Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Arthur Howard. An ice storm destroys the squirrel family’s home and three animal friends help them find a new one. Lots of humor and family fun in this one.
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder and illustrated by Garth Williams
January Family Fun: Embrace Conversation
10. Kick off the New Year with a year of conversation starters. Break them out at dinner time, bedtime, or even in the car. Grab your set here.
After printing them, I run them through my laminator, cut them out, and put them in a jar on our kitchen table. This makes it easy to grab a few every now and then.
Want to start with a Freebie set of questions? Subscribers to this blog receive a FREE set of “Would You Rather” questions. This is NOT the same set that is included in the Year-Round book. This is a set of questions available ONLY to subscribers.
January Family Fun: Embrace Crafting
Conversation happens so easily when people are engaged in activities together.
11. Make Crafts with Younger Kids
12. Make Crafts with Older Kids and Teens.
a. Make a sock monkey. We LOVE our sock monkeys. They are one of my favorite crafts that I have made with my daughters. If you have never made a sock monkey and you have teenagers, then this is a perfect activity to connect with your teen.
January Family Fun: Embrace a Winter Poetry Teatime
I am a big fan of Poetry Teatime. We attempt to have a simple teatime at least twice a month.
13. Read Winter Poetry Books. These four will get you started:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost and illustrated by Susan Jeffers. Hands down. My favorite. Just check out the hidden animals in these illustrations.
Winter Bees and other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Rick Allen. Love these books for their poetry and great information.
Winter Poems selected by Barbara Rogasky and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
It’s Snowing! It’s Snowing!: Winter Poems (I can read Level 3) by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Yossi Abolafia.
14. Make Winter Themed Snacks (or just serve up Oreos. The white filling can be snow, right?)
If you feel up to making a creative snack, try these:
a. Edible Marshmallow Snowmen from Raising Life Long Learners
b. Popcorn Snowballs from Sugar, Spice and Glitter
c. Cinnamon Sugar Snowflakes from Happy Hooligans (This one looks pretty easy!)
d. Sledding Penguins Frozen Bananas Snack from Reading Confetti
Check out our family’s Winter Poetry Teatime on the blog!
January Family Fun: Embrace Game Playing
15. Play a game together. This month, I suggest one of our favorites, Sushi Go. It’s fairly quick, easy, and fun for the whole family.
You can see more of our favorite games on my Master List of Games.
Got any more ideas to connect with your kids this month? Feel free to comment below and share!