Thank Goodness for Zoom

Guest Blogger: Kylie Smillie
baby pretending to be on phone and computer

We have all heard the acronym TGIF, however COVID-19 has introduced me to TGFZ… thank goodness for Zoom! I may be in the minority having never heard of Zoom before this pandemic, however I have now been a fully-fledged participant in social Zoom calls, as well as work conference calls and training sessions. Zoom has enabled our workforce to continue functioning, as well as provided an outlet for us adults to participate in virtual happy hours and enjoy some grown-up time! 

Children rely heavily on social interactions for development of social behaviors, and as much as we adults must be feeling the boredom, our kids are definitely feeling the frustration too! It’s important during our current socially isolated climate that we discover new ways to combat their isolation and boredom by enabling them to engage in social activities!

Whether you are using Zoom or a different technology platform, here are 10 virtual activities that you can try with your kids (and their friends!) to keep them not only entertained, but help them maintain an ongoing social life too!

Charades – The age-old game of acting out a word or phrase for other participants to guess. If COVID isolation has diminished your ability to come up with charade topics, there are several websites that provide charades topics for kids including this one here

Scrabble – This game is already a virtual craze due to the popularity of Words With Friends. Versions are available over Facebook or multiple apps. Why not add a more interactive element to it by playing it during a video call?

Pictionary – Take turns drawing something for the other participants to guess. Tech-savvy individuals can share their screen drawing with their mouse, but if you’re more of an “old school pen and paper” kind, that will do just fine! Either way the internet has yet again made it easy for you by providing a random generator of child-friendly Pictionary topics.

Scavenger Hunt – Provide children with a list of items to find in the house and the first one back is the winner. Bonus: make it themed like ski trip items or a day at the beach! 

Talent Show – Encourage every child to prepare a 3-5 minute talent which they will perform to everyone during the video call. This could potentially provide entertainment for hours as children can get creative with their set and props. This could also lead into activities such as virtual crafts and costume making. 

Book Club – After picking a book, provide children with a chapter to read so they can all discuss the book together, or they can take it in turns reading sections of the book together. This could also be in the form of a play as many online resources are offering child-friendly plays for parents to download and print. Here’s a bonus idea: Assign roles to each child and have them act out a play/scene together!

Virtual Workout – There are thousands of these available online! My personal favorite when it comes to kid specific workouts are these ones, provided by Joe Wicks (a fellow Brit) who has been providing 30-minute PE classes on YouTube for children of all ages since the start of the pandemicThe great thing about these is that Mom and Dad can join in too!

Show and Tell – Much like they would do at school, provide children with an opportunity to prepare something to share with the group whether it be their favorite toy, a talent, or a craft project they have been working on.

Bingo – Virtual play through platforms such as the ones here are free for up to 30 players. Make it more personalized and create bingo boards around a movie or show that the group can watch and choose your own rules (or have a grown-up help you)!

Trivia Night – Assistance from an adult may be required to prepare for this one, however, it could bring friendly competition into the social hour and test general knowledge on child appropriate topics! If you are stuck for question inspiration, here is a helpful link to get you started.

Remember to consider time restraints when planning these games. Free Zoom accounts have a 40-minute time limit and often take time at the start for everyone to gain access and get connected. I would advise that you plan for a game that will take approximately 30-minutes. COVID-19 may have separated us physically, but thank goodness for technology and the feeling of community and social interaction it can provide! Rather than focusing on the negative impacts of screen time for our little ones, let’s take advantage of technology and make the screen time we do encourage the most beneficial for them and bring back some much needed social time!

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