Are your kids going stir crazy at home? While people in some areas are beginning to be able to get out a little more, others are not. Or maybe you have a child (or yourself!) who has a medical condition that requires you to stay home and away from any potential danger of getting sick. Maybe you care for an elderly relative and can’t get out as much as you’d like. Or you could be in the middle of super cold, super hot, or even rainy weather that makes getting outside hard to do. There are lots of reasons why you and your children might be interested in virtual playdate ideas, so I’m sharing these 5 virtual playdate ideas with you today!
Thankfully, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms have provided a way to stay connected to friends and family even if you can’t be together in-person. This means kids can still see and talk to their friends. No, it’s not exactly the same as getting together in real life, but it’s the next best thing!
5 Ways Kids Can Connect with Friends Through Video
1. Board Games
Board games have always been a popular option for gatherings–and for good reason! They’re appropriate for any group size and are enjoyed by almost everyone. Now, video conferencing has made it possible to play games with friends and family even when you’re not in the same location. Yahtzee, Farkle, Bingo, and Charades are a few games you can play over Zoom or Facetime that are cost-effective and fun for all ages.
There are actually lots of kinds of bingo games for kids! Click this link to see some of them. You’ll find bingo games for preschoolers, alphabet bingo, animal bingo, holiday-themed games, and even Spanish versions!
And, on Only Passionate Curiosity, you’ll find an article sharing a printable Boredom Busting Bingo game. This one is a little different because it is actually a bingo board that includes spaces for things like “learn about food chains” or “make up a dance” or “make papercrafts.” Then, in the information included in the article, you’ll find links to printables for helping your kids learn about food chains, templates and ideas for all kinds of papercrafts, etc. This is a fun and educational way to play bingo!
2. Weekly Book Club
This one is exciting – especially for book lovers like me! An online book club is super simple to set up. You can coordinate with neighbors, friends, or other homeschool families to find kids who are interested in participating.
Once you’ve got a group together, have the kids choose a book (maybe have them vote on two parent-approved options) and discuss the details – days/times of meetings, which video platform to use, how many chapters a week to read, discussion questions or free-flowing convo, etc. Putting a plan in place will ensure everyone is on the same page (yes, pun totally intended).
Right now with everyone stuck at home, escaping to a new world – with your friends! – is a great way to feel less alone.
3. “Show and Tell”
Yep, I said “show and tell.” Just like we did in elementary school all those years ago. Kids love showing off their stuff!
Just grab a group of friends with kids and set up an informal weekly chat. Maybe (to get everyone “warmed up” and ready to be on camera) start with circle time and let parents take turns leading songs and stories. Then, let the kids hop on camera to show the group their most prized possessions. Let each child have a turn giving a little background about his or her treasure, and then have a Q&A time for others in the group to ask questions about their treasured objects (or pets….kids love their furry – or scaly – critters!). You can keep it to one kid per week or let everyone have a short turn each time you meet – whatever works best for your group.
Bonus – this is a fantastic opportunity to help your kids build confidence when speaking in front of others!
4. Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts are the perfect boredom buster for kids at home. Have them put on their creative hats and get together for a virtual “make and take” project each week with friends. You can find craft ideas online and have everyone gather their own supplies before each meeting.
Crafts can be chosen based on a class theme (sea creatures, fairy tales, dinosaurs, etc.). Or, kids can take turns each week picking a craft for the group to do together.
Our sister site, Only Passionate Curiosity, has some great arts & crafts ideas that are either inexpensive or free. You’ll also find educational printables, unit studies, worksheets, and other fun ideas!
Pro tip – designate a parent to send out a weekly supply list so everyone has time to gather what they need to participate. Be sure the list is sent out at least a week ahead of time!
5. Social Club (Around a Central Topic)
This one is probably my favorite. I have a child that can talk for hours and hours and hours about Minecraft. I try to give him my full, undivided attention, but let’s be real, it’s hard. My eyes glaze over because I don’t understand most of what he’s saying.
If you can’t get out and physically be with friends right now, forming an online group chat with your child’s peers surrounding a topic of interest is a great solution. It gives them an opportunity to “geek out” over all the details of their interest/hobby that we, as parents, don’t always fully get. And the friendships formed by kids connecting in this way have the potential to last long beyond these online meetups.
Kids can exchange letters, talk on parent-approved messaging apps, and/or continue to video chat (or see one another in-person, if local) once the social club has run its course and life has gotten a little more back to normal.
Bonus Ideas and Activities
We all know we tend to feel better when we do nice things for others. It just makes us feel good to help others feel good! So how about performing some random acts of kindness? You can do these together with your virtual group or on your own!
Some of these may not be do-able right now if they require that you leave the house and you’re not able to do that, but many of them are perfect for doing right at home! 30 Random Acts of Kindness for Kids includes some fun yet simple ideas for doing things to show your kids you care. (Yes, we do that every day by feeding them and keeping them alive! 🙂 But sometimes our kids enjoy an extra special reminder that we’re glad they belong to us!) If you and your children want to do some random acts of kindness for someone else, you’ll find great ideas in these articles: 50 Random Acts of Kindess (some of which can be done from home) and 50 More Random Acts of Kindness (That Can Be Done from Home).
The Wrap Up
Life looks different for many of us right now. While we can’t do anything to change the events of the past year, we can try to find the bright side and make the most of our current circumstances. While get-togethers aren’t happening as much, video conferencing has made it possible to connect face-to-face.
Which of these ideas do you think your kids will enjoy? Or do you have other ideas to share? Please let us know in the comments below!