I haven’t hugged my 6-year old granddaughter, Sophia since February 29, 2020. But every Saturday since then, we’ve spent an hour, sometimes 90 minutes on FaceTime talking, playing games, and doing art together. While these virtual visits aren’t a substitute for the real thing, they’ve definitely helped strengthen the bond between us. Here are six activities we enjoy doing together that you can share with your grandchildren.
Art Class: Ever since Sophia’s koala drawing won first place in her school district Youth Art Expo last year, I’ve been encouraging her artistic talents. During our weekly FaceTime calls, I ask her to give me art lessons.
Recently, she taught me to draw grapes, a pineapple, and a strawberry. We both got out paper, pen, and markers — then she gave me instructions one stroke at a time. After I’ve drawn my line, I hold up my work and she says “good job, Baba!”
When we finished our drawings, I saw an opportunity to incorporate some spelling and reading into our project. I suggested we write the names of the fruit under our drawings. I asked her to try and spell the words then print them under the fruit. She sounded them out and with some help from me on the spelling, she printed out “grape,” “pineapple,” and “strawberry.” She was beaming with pride when she finished.
Going on a picnic memory game: This alphabet-based categorizing memory game is one of Sophia’s favorites. It’s great for kids 5 and up, or for slightly younger kids who have learned their ABCs. You don’t need a game board or any materials, so it’s perfect for long car rides and now it’s great for FaceTime.
To begin, one person kicks it off by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing…” followed by something that you can eat that begins with A, such as “…apples” or “…artichokes.”
The second player repeats what the first person said, but adds a food that begins with B. “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing apples and bananas.” This game works on both memory and knowing the order of the alphabet. There are lots of variations: “I’m going to the zoo” then name animals; “I’m going on vacation” then name places that begin with A, B, C, and so on.
Rhyme Time: Sophia loves this game because she can make up silly words to rhyme with each other. The idea is to say a word and then ask the child to say a word that rhymes with it or ends in the same sound. You can prepare a list of rhyming pairs before you start playing or just pick words around you.
Opposite Pairs: When Sophia and I used to play in-person, she loved this box of 30 puzzle pairs of opposite words called Match It! Opposites For example, up/down, hot/cold, boy/girl, rainy/sunny. We take turns giving each other words to find the opposite.
Guess my snack: After we’d been on the call an hour, Sophia said she was hungry and wanted to get a snack. I said I’d get one too and when we came back, we had to hide our snack and then give clues to see if we could guess what each of us brought for our snacks. Using taste, texture, food category are all good ways to give clues.
Catch up on family news and photos: It’s always fun to share photos and news since our last visit. Sophia received a recognition award for being a “Caring Classmate” at her elementary school assembly on Zoom. I shared some photos I’d taken on a recent hike with beautiful fall foliage which led to a conversation about the characteristics of each season.
These fun activities are easy to enjoy with your grandchildren when you can’t be there in-person. I’m always looking for new ideas so please share one of your favorites in the comment box.