Grandparents and grandchildren don’t always live near one another, so being apart and communicating only by phone isn’t necessarily new for all families. But if you typically get to spend lots of time with your grandkids and aren’t able to be together in-person right now, here are some fun ways to connect beyond a simple phone call.
Staying virtually connected with younger kids
This idea works well any time of day, but it is especially nice at bedtime. You may have some books on hand that would work well for a virtual story time, or you can simply tell a story from memory that your grandkids would enjoy. If you’re feeling creative, make up a new story with your grandkids as the main characters. Record your story and send a video, or connect just before bedtime on a video chat to help your grandkids settle in for the night.
Commission an art project and ask for progress reports
Kids are spending a lot of their inside time creating art projects with paints, colored pencils, clay, and more. They’re also making amazing sidewalk chalk art to entertain themselves and anyone walking by.
Why not commission a piece of art for yourself? Ask your grandchildren to create something special just for you. Give them some ideas to get started – animals, insects, sports, or their favorite activity could be the theme. Tell them your favorite colors and ask for a piece in your own personal color palette. They can send pictures while the artwork progresses and present the finished piece on a video call or once you’re able to get together again.
Enjoy a favorite TV show
Game shows are perfect for virtual viewing together! A video call makes it possible for all of you to watch and play along at the same time. Ask your grandchildren about their favorite shows and invite yourself to watch along. You can also make the experience educational with nature shows or art programs. Shared TV time is a whole lot of fun with very little effort.
This fun activity requires that you have the lay of the land at your grandchild’s home. Have your son, daughter, or the parent-in-charge hide a treat or little prize somewhere in their home and then tell you where it can be found. Use a video chat to provide clues (you’re getting warmer, colder; look up, look down) to help them find their prize.
Staying virtually connected with older kids
Lots of older kids have a phone, and rarely a day goes by that they don’t use it to take pictures or video. Ask them to document a day in their life. This is something you can continue to do even after you’re able to get together again, and it can provide a personal glimpse into how your grandchild spends their time. Ask them to introduce you to their best friend, show you their favorite place to take a walk, or display something beautiful or interesting they noticed in their neighborhood. You’ll learn a lot about your grandchild, and they’ll feel special for having been asked.
Teach something, learn something
Do you have a skill you can share in an online lesson? Do you cook something you know your grandchild enjoys and would likely make for themselves? Perfect! Maybe you’re crafty and can demonstrate something like knitting or crocheting to help your grandchild pass the time, as well as learn something new.
It’s a great way for you to learn something new too. Have your grandchild show you how to download podcasts or music or movies. Ask them to show you how to make a friendship bracelet or slime, or to teach you a fun dance move. If you can’t connect in real time, they can send your “lesson” via video so you can watch it when you’re able.
Challenge each other to an online gaming match
There are countless board games you can play together online, like checkers and chess, card games, and other games that require an app download. Find a few that you both enjoy and let the games begin.
Write an add-on story
This activity is tailor-made for imaginative and creative older grandkids. Of course, little kids can play too – they just might need more help from mom or dad. Have your grandchild write the first sentence or two (or have them tell it to their parent for transcription). Then they need to send you their story via text or email. Now, it’s your turn. Add another sentence or two and send it back. Keep going until the story comes to an end and have your grandchild (or their parent) read it out loud in a video chat.
Conversation starters to have on hand
Of course, not every virtual conversation has to a be a game or require a lot of preparation. Just having a few questions beyond “How was your day?” at the ready can get a conversation started and keep it going too.
Conversation starters for younger kids
- If you could be any animal, what would you be?
- If you had a superpower, what would it be?
- Tell me about something you’re really good at / you really like to do
Conversation starters for older kids
- If you could meet anyone (famous or not, dead or alive) who would it be?
- Who is your best friend and why?
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you travel to?
Staying connected virtually may become even more common after we get through this current challenge. Plus, kids grow up, go off to college, and start jobs and families of their own – often in far-away places. When that happens, you’ll be armed with plenty of ideas and skills to spend quality virtual time with your grandchildren throughout their lives.