Games to play on zoom or video calls with your youngest grandkids
It’s a paradox of modern grandparenting: we have the technology to interact with our faraway grandchildren, but it’s still hard to connect. It’s hard to coordinate schedules, especially if you are in different time zones. It’s hard to get little ones to sit still, because they have better things to do than talk to Granny. And even if you clear those hurdles, it can be hard to keep a conversation going.
Though we can’t help with eliminating the time zone difference, we can share things to do on Zoom with grandchildren that can keep them engaged and interacting. With just a little preparation, FaceTime with grandchildren can be a regular time to play and connect.
If you’ve been following along with More Than Grand, you know one of the main ways I visit with my grandchildren over video chat is by reading them stories while they eat lunch. I’ve written more about that here. But not all children can be entertained by stories alone, and even my book-loving grands need a little variety from time to time! That’s when I turn to one of the following games during our video calls. When you are looking for Zoom activities with young grandchildren, try one of these simple games for children from one year on up.
Peekaboo As FaceTime games with grandchildren go, it can’t get any simpler than Peekaboo. I am consistently amazed at how entertaining they find it! All you need to do is cover the phone or laptop camera with your finger and exclaim, “Where’s Pops?” When you uncover it and shout “Peekaboo!” you are almost guaranteed a big grin. My grands also love moving so they aren’t on camera, so that I’ll sadly say, “Oh, my grandson is gone! I miss him so much!” Then he’ll pop back on screen with a smile and do it all over again. The best part is that you can play with the very youngest of children—sometimes as young as 6-8 months—but the six-year-old still enjoys it!
Hide and Seek This is another favorite childhood game that can be adapted into a FaceTime activity with grandchildren. If you have someone else at home, they can “hide” in another room and you can go around the house searching for them. Make sure you narrate with lots of “Is Grandma in the pantry? No, she’s not there—let’s check the living room.” If your grandchildren are old enough and familiar with your house, ask for ideas of where to look.
Another option is to hide objects around the house before your call. This can be stuffed animals, paper dolls you’ve printed and colored, toys, apples, etc. Then, when you are on video chat with the grandchildren, take your phone and use the camera go looking for the hidden items, like an Easter-egg hunt. Try to hide them in fairly obvious places, so they can be seen without moving things. You can make this easier or harder by how close you take your phone’s camera to the object you are searching for and how visible you make the hiding places.
Scavenger Hunt Scavenger hunts can be really fun on Zoom with grandchildren. Ask your grand to go find something and bring it back to show you. For the littlest ones, keep it simple: ask for a specific toy, a book, or a piece of clothing. As they get older, ask for something that is a certain color, or one that begins with the letter L. If you have multiple children or families taking part, you can make this into a race. Just make sure you keep the playing field level by sending younger ones off earlier, or making older ones find multiple items on each turn.
Memory Tray This is one of our favorite games for FaceTime with our grandchildren. Collect a variety of small objects that your grandchildren will recognize: small toys, household items, things from nature, etc. Then put a few on a tray—just 4-5 at first, especially for the youngest ones. Let them study what’s there, then turn the camera around so they can’t see the tray. Remove one item, flip the camera again, and ask them what is missing. This game is great because it’s easy to make it easier or harder. To make it easier: use fewer items, take time to name each item before hiding them, or coach the grandkids to the right answer. To make it harder: increase the number of items, make some items similar (multiple coins or toy cars, for example), take away more items each time, or ask them to list all the items they remember.
Simon Says Although the rules of Simon Says may be too challenging for the youngest grandchildren to grasp, they will love a simplified version of the game. Turn it into “Nana says touch your nose” and “Nana says jump up and down”. Then give them a chance to tell you what to do. As they get a bit older, you can introduce the complication of Simon Says, in which they are only supposed to follow directions if you say “Simon Says” at the beginning of your sentence.
Whether you use Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or another platform to connect with your grandkids, these games for the youngest will make your video chats more fun for all of you. Try to set a weekly time that you can play, and you’ll find you look forward to the games as much as they do.
Have you played any of these or any other games when you FaceTime with the grandkids? Let us know in the comments!