20 Video Chat Activities For Grandparents & Kids Of All Ages
Sure, you love and adore them, but being at home with your kids 24/7 can make you certifiably insane. But even if you’re sick of being stuck together, you have to consider the other end of the spectrum of social distancing — the grandparents who are all alone and missing their families. As the go-between, you’ll need to come up with some way for them to communicate. These 20 video chatting activities for grandparents and kids will make everyone feel like they’re all together again.
Now, let’s address the obvious. Grands, bless their hearts, tend to not be too tech-savvy. Myriads of memes have been dedicated to them not knowing how to Zoom, or how to get the video to work. And adding more tech might make them feel not just silly, but older and more isolated, which is the last thing that you want. Which is why you should make even more of an effort to connect the generations. “During this time of crisis, it is even more important for grandkids to connect virtually with their grandparents,” Babita Spinelli, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach, tells Romper. “For the elderly, staying indoors and isolated is even more imperative, but has heightened loneliness, sadness and anxiety for grandparents who long to see their grandchildren or used to being caregivers for them.” Plus, it can create feelings of loss for grandkids who enjoy the presence and participation of their grandparents in their lives.
So, yes, you already have so much to do, but don’t forget about facilitating contact between the grandparents and your kids. Keep it simple, keep it sweet, and you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.
1. Do Show And Tell
More than likely, grandparents are going to ask your kids, “What did you do today?” So make sure that they have something fun to share when they chat online. It might be a cool spring craft project that you made from leftover toilet paper rolls, or the gold star that your kiddo got from completing his writing assignment. Either way, it will be something that grandparents would love to see and be proud of.
2. Print Out Pics
You probably have several hundred (or thousand) pics on your phone. So get your printer ready and print some photos that your kids can share with their grandparents. “You can even put them in a photo album and talk about the fun you enjoyed together,” Dr. Fran Walfish, a family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent, tells Romper. It beats the alternative — trying to hold your phone up to the camera so that your parents can see the images on your smartphone’s screen.
3. Make A Movie
Being stuck indoors all day can bring out your kid’s creative side. If your child is using fun video apps to document the day, they can share their videos with their grandparents. Better yet — make a docu-dramedy challenge by having both grandparents and grandkids film fun and interesting parts of their day, and then show their finished products during a video call.
4. Go Gaming
Listen, not all grandparents are tech challenged. So if the grands want to play a video game with your kids, it’s game on. “If Grandma or Grandpa are up for it, connect via your Xboxes for some online gaming,” Toni Coleman, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach, tells Romper.
5. Travel Together
Going on a plane now for vacation isn’t exactly a reality. But that shouldn’t stop your parents and your kiddos from hitting the road. “Go on a virtual tour together to a city or historical landmark,” says Coleman. “Then discuss what you saw and how much fun it would be to visit when this is all over.” Your family will get to explore something new together, and it will give everyone something to look forward to post-pandemic.
6. Do Schoolwork
If you need a break from homeschooling, there’s a substitute teacher you can call to figure out fractions with your kids — Grandma and Grandpa. “Not only will it give you a break, but it can help grandparents to feel useful and essential to the family,” says Coleman.
7. Read Bedtime Stories
Have Grandma tuck your child in virtually by reading a bedtime story. From turning the pages of I Love You, Stinkyface to Goodnight Moon together, reading the stories gives your child and the grands a quality connection… and beautiful memories, too. “Almost anything you can imagine could be possible with a little imagination and some good technical skills,” says Coleman. And you never know — a new tradition can be born that continues well after the pandemic passes.
8. Start A Book Club
Reading is more fun when you get to share your thoughts and ideas. So have grandparents and your child pick a book and start a book club. “Pick a book of mutual interest or something they both would enjoy,” Dr. Lea Lis, a board certitied adult and child psychologist, tells Romper. “Read it together and have the grandparents offer rewards for completion of the project.”
9. Write Some Snail Mail
Sure, it might be faster to dash off a quick text to say hi, but there’s nothing like a handwritten letter to tug at the heartstrings. Take out some paper and pen (or construction paper and crayons) and help your child craft a cute letter to their grandparents. “They can become pen pals and write each other letters via mail,” says Dr. Lis. "Then read the letters out loud together while they’re chatting online, which can help your child practice their reading skills.”
10. Play Board Games
When it comes to online activities that both adults and kids like, there’s nothing like a board game. You can pick ones like Candy Land, charades, or even checkers or chess on Zoom. Just make sure that you both have the board games — and all the pieces — in order to play. Says Dr. Lis: “A structured game allows for more conversation.”
11. Live Vicariously
Just because kids and grandparents can't go out and do all their favorite things together in the real world doesn't mean they can't online. Have both parties learn to play Roblox, for example. It is easy any have dual player modes. This allows you to be in the same world together. It is basically like living in a virtual world with your own avatar. You can do things together like go into the pool, bake, or go to school.
12. Go Over Family History
Grandparents are a fountain of information when it comes to family history. During a Zoom call, let your kiddos ask their grandparents about some of the family history that they weren’t sure of, or may not even have known about (like the fact that Grandpa served in the Korean War), or how they met. It can create a connection to the past — and to their grandparents.
13. Have Date Night
Between work and homeschooling, you probably have so much on your plate right now. That’s why setting aside a Friday or a Saturday night for fun, fancy night is ideal — for the kids and their grandparents. They can do anything that you’d typically do on date night, like have dinner and watch a movie together. And let them get dressed up so that it makes the meal (and the evening video call) that much more special.
14. Plan Outings
Just because your local zoo is closed doesn’t mean that your grandparents can’t take your kids there. “Logging in on the same virtual tour of a museum where everyone can share the experience maintains fun outings grandparents may have planned for and enjoyed with their grandkids,” says Spinelli. “It also provides a weekend ritual distinct from a weekday.” Let them choose which place they’d like to tour virtually, whether it’s their local library or a museum in Italy.
15. Play Interviewer
No matter how much time they might have spent with their grandparents, surely there’s something that they don’t know, like their favorite childhood memory. During a Zoom call, your kiddo can play a version of 20 Questions and ask their grandparents silly stuff like “What food do you find disgusting?” to something sweet, like, “What’s your favorite childhood song?” Chances are, they’ll learn something new and spark new and exciting conversations.
16. Cook Together
Having a meal together might be one of the things that the grandparents miss the most. Create a menu that is somewhat kid friendly, and make sure that everyone has the ingredients (it might be a good idea to focus on pantry staples to ensure mealtime success). Then log on to the video call and start cooking! Grandparents can help their grandkids with measuring out ingredients and even offer culinary tips (and anecdotes) about mealtime when they were little.
17. Give An Online Lesson
If Grandma and Grandpa still don’t have a good grasp on how to Zoom, well, now’s the time to show them. Have your kid put on their IT cap and help troubleshoot whatever issue is plaguing your parents, whether it’s where to focus the camera, or how to get their audio to work. That way, you (hopefully) won’t have any tech issues for the next call, and the grandparents will be even more proud of their super smart grandkids.
18. Craft Together
Whether it’s painting or pottery, there are so many fun crafts that kids can do with their grandparents that don’t require them to be in the same space. All you need is to decide on a craft and cull together the materials. It’s a good idea to have a picture of the completed project ahead of time so that everyone knows what the craft should look like, but leave room for artistic inspiration (goofs and mistakes).
19. Play Music
Although it might sound more like a motley crew than a band of professional musicians, fill your Zoom call up with everyone playing instruments. Let Grandpa play the piano, and give your kids something that they can play — even if it’s banging on pots and pans. Sure, you might have a headache afterwards, but making music together is a fun way to spend time together. Just make sure that you have some Tylenol handy.
20. Do A Dance Party
You hear that Grandma could rock The Lindy like no one’s business back in the day. So see her show off her moves in an online dance party. Play some music from your parents’ generation as well as from today, and see who can really rock the dance floor.
Grandparents are going to grab any opportunity to connect with their grandkids, even if it means facing down their tech fears. Having something fun for them to do with the youngest members of the family will help stave off the loneliness, bring on the laughs, and keep the connection until you’re all reunited again.
Babita Spinelli, licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach
Dr. Fran Walfish, family and relationship psychotherapist and author of "The Self-Aware Parent"
Toni Coleman, LCSW, licensed psychotherapist and relationship coach
Dr. Lea Lis, board certitied adult and child psychologist