When the pandemic quarantine began in March, I figured I could do anything for two weeks. Then two weeks turned into four and four into eight, and here we are in October looking at a possible resurgence in numbers.
In March, one of the positive things was that we had summer coming and would be able to do outside social distance visits with our kids and grandchildren.
Now, it’s October and we are staring winter in the face. The outside social distance visits won’t always be possible or even desirable.
We are a fortunate group in this day and age to have the technology to Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet with our friends and families.
But, engaging children, especially younger ones, on the screen can be challenging. Their attention spans can be short, and they are often developmentally unable to engage in a conversation for more than a minute or two.
Here are some really fun ideas that you, your grands, and their parents will enjoy. I guarantee you will hang up from these virtual calls with a big smile on your face in spite of not being able to lay your hands on them.
The options are endless. Some suggestions for the younger set:
This is great game for all ages, but the littles enjoy it very much. You give them a choice of two things, and they have to decide which they’d rather do.
Some examples: “Would you rather ride on a magic carpet or on the back of a unicorn?” “Would you rather live underwater or in an igloo?” “Would you rather eat pizza every day or tacos?” If you run out of questions, google has tons of ideas.
In this game you find something on the screen – on either person’s background. The leader says, “Eye Spy with my little eye something _____ (insert color).” The players have to guess what the leader is looking at.
This game is a huge hit with my grands. You can make the items as easy or as hard as you want to, depending on the ages of the kiddos.
Some examples: “Find me something that smells yucky,” “something that smells yummy,” “something that starts with the same first letter as your name,” “something you made.” For the younger children it can be as easy as “find me a sock.”
Another huge hit. You can do traditional Bingo, or you can get on Pinterest and find tons of seasonal printable bingo pages. We just played fall Bingo and Halloween Bingo.
For the older kids, Apples to Apples or Pictionary are fun virtually.
Again, Pinterest is your best friend when it comes to seasonal craft ideas. With my grands, I find crafts and email their parents ahead of time with a list of materials needed. The younger kids will need help from Mom or Dad, but they really enjoy it. We’ve done painting, made wreaths out of paper plates and fall leaves, and colored pictures.
Play just as you would if you were there in person. You each have Play-Doh, Legos, blocks, whatever characters they’re into at the time, etc. on your ends and play! Each can build a Lego monster and have a battle. Color together.
Make things together with Play-Doh. One day, we had a birthday party for our grandson’s stuffed animals. We made cupcakes out of Play-Doh and decorated them. Then we sang Happy Birthday.
This is a good strategy with younger grands – they’re more likely to be in one place for a period of time while they’re eating and to engage in a conversation.
Here are two things to keep in mind when virtually engaging with young grandchildren:
Take their lead. You can try once to prompt them back if they get distracted, but that’s it. You don’t want it to be a forced engagement – it needs to be fun for them. More frequent, shorter calls are more effective and positive than longer calls.
Take cues from the kids on what they love and what they don’t. All of my grandchildren love to be read to when we’re together. I’ve tried over and over to read to them virtually, and it just doesn’t hold their interest. It’s one of my favorite things to do with them, but it’s just going to have to wait until after Covid, unfortunately.
As much as I’m not looking forward to this winter, I have to look at the bright side and be grateful for the technology and tools that we have available to us. Be creative and have fun. We can still make memories with our grands – even in the midst of a pandemic.
What games and activities have you done virtually with your grandchildren? What have found to keep them engaged, especially the younger ones? Please share with the comments below!
Leslie has started an online book group for women over 50. If you’re interested in further information on this, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.