We found ways to love the next six-plus weeks of winter.
1. Behold the power of nature. Kids love snow. And no wonder. It’s powerful stuff. It can close schools, halt traffic, and empty grocery-store shelves faster than kids can say snow day!
When the next snowstorm strikes, step outdoors to appreciate the majesty and unpredictability of nature. Throw snowballs, build a fort, and OK, shovel. Look for animal footprints, take pics, and then identify them. You can find awesome animal tracking cards online—like these from Princeton University. Use them to help ID what’s making tracks throughout the neighborhood.
Got a second day off (or a free weekend afternoon)? Open a Weather University. Check out print and online sources for info on clouds and how they help predict the weather. Unearth weather facts (like worms squiggle up from underground when they sense a flood is coming), or floor your kids with these winter stunners: Rapid City, South Dakota, once experienced a temperature drop from a comfy 55 degrees Fahrenheit to a bone-chilling 8 degrees Fahrenheit in a record 15 minutes. Or this: an inch of rain in the summer is equal to about 10 inches of snow in winter. Find out where your state ranks in average yearly precipitation compared with every other state in the nation.
And don’t forget this: the snowiest spot on earth is Aomori City in Japan, where snow pounds the town each year with 26 feet of snow on average. Learn why here. Then look outside and count your blessings.
2. Conquer new food territory. Ditch the usual mac and cheese, burgers, franks, and pizza dinners and get your kid pumped for food that’s a little out of the ordinary. Now’s the time to check out pre-game grub for the Super Bowl (February 2) and dishes for Chinese New Year (January 25).
Tell your family that for health and other reasons—like a lifetime of adventurous eating—it’s smart and fun to cultivate a broader palate. Together, taste test two new foods in January. Be adventurous! The best way to raise a bold eater is to shop, prep, cook, and eat boldly together. Dine out, order in, or whip up food at home, keeping your kids involved from start to finish.
Last, create a food passport to track progress. Use one small (3 x 5 or 5 x 8) spiral notebook for each child. Let him add his name and a recent picture, and decorate his passport with stickers—one flag per country. Sample kid faves, including guacamole, ramen noodles, hummus, or falafel; record the date, what he ate, his opinion, and where he tried it. By the time the holidays roll around in February, your family may be up for even more ethnic and international cooking. Try dirty rice, crepes, spring rolls, and noodles.
3. Pursue an interest. January is National Hobby Month. If your family has time to fill, consider a hobby that suits all of you.Get big benefits by selecting an activity you’re passionate about; you’ll have more fun. Hobbies also help structure the day, boost social connections, alleviate stress, and in general make all of you much more interesting to others. Some ideas, offbeat ideas and otherwise: cross-stitching, knitting, indoor gardening, hydroponics, leather crafting, word games, puzzles, glassblowing, beading, jewelry making, origami, model building, table tennis, wood carving, yo-yoing, magic, coding, stand-up comedy, theater, and do-it-yourself anything.