My five children have spread themselves halfway across the country. Which makes grandparenting a job and a half! Papa and I don’t take this job lightly, so we put a lot of miles on our car. But that still isn’t enough. Our second option is Skype. We push it to the limit. Skype has physical limitations, though I am sure I hold the world record for catching kisses blown through the camera.
Holding prolonged conversations with the 6 and under crew just does not work. Before I Skype, I come up with activities to catch my grandkids attention and get them talking. It took awhile for me to figure out how to do this, and as they change and grow, it constantly changes. But let me share some ideas. I promise to post more and often.
Peek-a-Boo—This works well with babies and toddlers, but won’t last long.
Simon Says—Easy to play. With young toddlers, don’t play with all the rules. They’ll do what Simon Says and whatever else you ask.
Touch It!—Ask them to touch their ears, their feet, the front door knob, the cat. As they grow you can add tougher stuff like, “Touch something purple.” “Touch a leaf.” “Touch three toys.” “Touch an object that smells good.” “Touch something that plays music.”
This is fun to do together. If you plan to do it, you might want to dress appropriately for whatever exercise you do. I wish this worked with walking on the treadmill, but the motor is too loud. I do walk and get steps in for my Fitbit as I Skype by carrying my Ipad. Be sure you have a good angle to set the camera so you can enjoy their attempts at jumping jacks while they laugh at you doing toe touches. Stretches are really hilarious, too.
This doesn’t work too well with Big Bro, but the girls love it. We go to the Café together, order herb teas and even *gasp* coffee! If you don’t have a tea set, no problem. Real tea cups or mugs work fine. Note: Grandpas out there, you gotta try this!
Hot Wheels cost $1 each at Kroger. Buy two. Guessing which car will win a race across the kitchen floor is golden! You can tip cookie sheets to make a race track, or use a stair rail. Girls enjoy this one almost as much as boys, but it definitely keeps the boys’ attention longer.
As children get older, there’s nothing like an overseeing eye as they do their homework. Parents so appreciate this one! First graders are often required to read out loud so many minutes a week. You can be the listener! That difficult math assignment takes just a little bit of help and the encouragement is what really gets the child through. I spent five minutes this week going over letter sounds with my newly-turned-four-year-old granddaughter. I had flashcards ready for her. She was surprised and thrilled to show me what she knew.
Reading a book together seems like such a great idea, but it’s tricky. For a picture book, if you turn the camera to face the book, then you lose face contact, but you can be sure the pictures show.
For toddlers, short board books with flaps that lift, or attached puppets work best.
Reading a chapter book, you run into the problem of losing the child’s interest without realizing it. Use so much expression that afterwards you feel literally tired (pun intended!)
Often when I talk with my grandchildren, they’ll give only yes or no answers. I’ve found the best way to start a conversation is to tell a true story about something that happened during the day. A funny or dramatic story often sparks their thoughts about something that happened to them. My two-year-old granddaughter spent a long time talking about her trip to the water park last summer when I told about getting accidentally sprayed by the hose.
More to Come
Some other sites with good ideas: