I’ve been writing creative ideas for play for at least 40 years. I started as a kindergarten teacher, a parent, writing most of the original book when Amy was napping at age two, and, now as a grandparent, my eighth book was published called KIDFUN: 401 Easy Ideas for Play. Filled with easy-to-do ideas, using only “stuff” already in the home and no electronics, the book is written for anyone who cares about young children. It’s filled with suggestions to do on rainy days, in the car, bedtime, bath time, at the pool, etc. etc. It turned out the publication of this book was perfect timing during the pandemic.
Recently I realized that the ideal audience for KIDFUN isn’t parents, who have been so stressed with being teachers, in addition to all their other responsibilities. It’s grandparents, who always need ideas for virtual kid fun. Whether this has been temporary because of COVID or it’s more of the norm because of distance, virtual communication is often the only opportunity to interact with grandchildren. I have so many suggestions on how to make the most of that virtual time together with ideas included in KIDFUN.
Here are some examples, straight from my book.
BE A RUBBER BAND
If you notice the kids getting restless during a call (or in person), simply pick up a rubber band and ask them to mimic its actions. Hold it up in the air and wiggle it. Then stretch it – horizontally and vertically. Next, drop it (so they fall on the floor) and then pick it up but squeeze it and you’ll see the kids stand up and hug themselves. They’ll love it and, I bet, they’ll want to try it with them!
BALANCE PAPER PLATES
Right there on a Zoom call, challenge your grandkids to balance a paper plate on their heads with no touching allowed. You can sit there and talk while balancing the plates … or have them stand up and walk around. You can all do it, even during a virtual call. Try setting a kitchen timer to see who can last the longest. If you happen to have a balloon handy, try balancing the balloon on the plate, too! Be silly. It’s much more fun that way!
STORY TIME – RECORDED
When you have free time, read a storybook and tape it. It would be great if you both had the same book – in each house. You could read it and tape the story into your phone and send it to your grandchild’s parent and then, at night, when it’s bedtime, YOU are reading the story while he’s looking at the pages. What a special experience for your grandchild.
STORY TIME WITH STUFFED ANIMALS
A variation of this is to ask your grandchildren to bring his favorite stuffed animal, or doll, to your virtual call. Then, tell stories together. Most likely, the toy already has a name but there’s so much more to discover about it. Does anyone know its favorite ice cream flavor or favorite character? How about its favorite place to visit or favorite relative! I love to talk about favorite things with kids because everyone’s opinion counts. There are no wrong answers. Then after you make up a story about the toy, when your grandchild takes that stuffed animal to bed at night, he’ll have the biggest smile remembering all that little animal’s favorite things. Maybe he’ll add more to the story and tell you during your next virtual call.
This takes a little advance planning. Before your call, ask your grandchild to pick a color for Color Day and when you have your next call, everyone makes that color the focus. You can wear clothes with that color in it; eat a snack with that color, bring objects to view of that color, play games with stuff with that color, draw a picture using that color …. If today was Red Day, maybe next week you’ll have a Green Day!
Top photo: Sharla’s granddaughters, (L to R) Sari, now 10, Jaclyn, now 7, and Ryan, now 13. (Sharla, second from left says: “The photo is about five years old, but I just love everyone’s sense of joy in it!”)
Sharla can be seen monthly on PHL 17 TV’s “Morning News” program with a KIDFUN feature. KIDFUN: 401 Easy Ideas for Play, can be purchased on the Wordeee website, and on Amazon. For more information on Sharla, go to her website.