Five ways to connect with grandparents

From playing chess and baking to doing crafts and reading together, discover the many ways kids can bond with the older generation

connect with grandparents

The expected second wave of the pandemic is here and many families are choosing to maintain physical distance between school-aged children and their grandparents in order to protect vulnerable family members.

For many grandparents, especially those who live alone, this can be a lonely time. Yet even if you cannot be physically together, you can help your kids connect with their grandparents over the winter months with games and activities you can do over FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Hangouts — or just using the good old-fashioned postal service.

Here are five fun ways children can connect with grandparents:

Read together

Storytime with the grandparents is a special experience for children, and it’s actually pretty easy to do over Zoom or FaceTime. Here are a few ways to try it:

  1. Have the grandparent read a poem or picture book, showing any pictures via video
  2. Read the same book together. If you don’t have two copies of the same book, you can try finding free eBook versions from the library using apps like Libby or Overdrive, or a subscription-based reading app like Epic.
  3. As your child to practice their reading by reading aloud to their grandparents.
  4. Have your child write a story or make a little “book,” and mail it to the grandparents for them to read back over video chat.
  5. For older children, start a family book club. Choose a novel to read together and pick a regular time to meet online and talk about the book.

You can help make this time special by having “teatime” together with proper china teacups and some special cookies, wear fancy (or silly) hats, or create your own unique ritual for reading hour.

Cook or craft together

Older children may enjoy cooking or baking with grandparents online. Working from the same recipe, have the grandparents demonstrate how to measure, prep, and mix the recipe over video chat. When it’s ready, show the results on camera and enjoy it together.

Similarly, grandparents can lead a craft activity or ask older children to show them how to do an activity they enjoy, such as making friendship bracelets or folding origami.

Write letters

Letter-writing may seem like a lost art, but even the most tech-savvy kids enjoy putting a letter in the mailbox and will light up when they see their name on a piece of mail. Young children can colour pictures to send to grandparents, while older children can write “real” letters or help put together care packages with cookies or other treats to show they care.

If your child is the crafty type, they can also learn how to create their own fancy cards with pop-ups or other paper craft embellishments. Buy special stamps, stationery, stickers, or colourful pens to make letter-writing even more fun.

Play Yahtzee!

 This easy dice-rolling game is fun for all ages, and can be played by several friends or family members at once. To play, each person takes a turn rolling all five dice, and has up to three tries to get the highest possible score. After each turn, the score is recorded. The winner is the person who has the highest score at the end of the game.

Each player will need five dice, but only one needs to keep score. If you don’t have an official Yahtzee! Set you can pillage your other board games for dice. Printable score sheets are easily found online via a quick Google search. There are several online-only versions of this game too, but most children will prefer to roll real dice. The real fun of the game, of course, is yelling “Yahtzee!” and doing a happy dance when all five dice turn up with the same number. Detailed rules and instructions are available here.

Challenge each other to a game of chess

In days gone by, far-flung friends would play chess by mail. Today, you can pick up the pace by playing online, or via video chat. You can find many online chess game options, like chess.org, which make it easy to play a game with friends. Many children will find it more fun, however, if they can see their opponent and touch and move real chess pieces. It’s easy enough to do over video chat if you teach them how to use a chess notation system.

To do this, help your child set up a chess board at home, and ask Grandma or Grandpa to do the same. Starting from the white player’s bottom left, number each horizontal row from one to eight, and each vertical column from A to H. This system provides each square with its own unique letter and number combination to make it easy to describe your move. For example, “I’m moving my pawn from G3 to G4.”

Here are three options to make it chess notation easy:

  1. Place strips of paper alongside two sides of the board, with one number per square on the vertical strip and one letter per square on the horizontal one.
  2. Label each square with a sticker, indicating both the number and letter (i.e. the white player’s bottom left corner would be A1, and the upper right corner would be H8).
  3. Print out an example of chess notation for reference, but leave the board as-is.

You can find more examples and illustrations of chess notation online by clicking here.