Connecting Long Distance Through FaceTime

We were inspired to create these games when we upgraded our phones from the dinosaur version we carried for years to the newer iPhone. We hadn't planned on purchasing new phones since our antique mobiles were sufficient, but our grandchildren motivated us by expressing how nice it would be to visit face-to-face via the FaceTime option on the iPhone.

Well, that got us thinking. How wonderful it would be to actually see them up close while speaking! And we discovered that you can walk from room to room—outside, downstairs, or upstairs—while chatting, playing games, and working around the home. It's the next best thing to being physically together!

Games That Are Both Parent- and Grandparent-Approved

Gene Perret is quoted as saying, "Grandparents are there to help the child get into mischief they haven't thought of yet." This is true of my husband and me when we are with our grandchildren, even over the iPhone. It's not always the case, but there have been a few times when having fun got us into trouble. Trust me, our antics and horseplay don't always go well within the confines of a living room—nor do they over the iPhone.

In order to appease parents (yes, we were reprimanded!), we invented some games to play while on FaceTime to keep our conversations at a moderate, civil, and semi-quiet speaking level. The best part: They are free and educational!

  1. The Guessing Game
  2. ABC Discover Me
  3. Noun-Question Matchup
  4. Word Lookup
  5. What Am I? Drawing Game
  6. Grandchild: Here it is, grandma (small piece revealed). Can you guess what it is?
  7. Grandma: A ribbon?
  8. Grandchild: No.
  9. Grandma: A piece of licorice?
  10. Grandchild: No. (giggling)
  11. Grandma: Can you show me a bit more?
  12. Grandchild: (more is revealed) Do you know what it is?
  13. Grandma: Nope. Show me some more, please.
  14. Grandchild: Of course. (more is displayed, followed by giggling)
  15. Grandma: I give up. What is it?
  16. Grandchild: My pink gel bracelet. (the full item is displayed)
  17. Grandma: Oh! I never would have guessed!
  18. (laughter and giggling from both grandma and grandchild)
  19. Scissors
  20. Postage stamps
  21. Hairbrush
  22. Crayon
  23. Small screwdriver
  24. Button
  25. Toy erasers, animals, dolls, and vehicles
  26. Letter and sound recognition
  27. Some physical exercise
  28. One person writes a noun, such as "cat."
  29. Meanwhile, the other person writes a sentence.
  30. You then share your writing to see if it makes a good sentence.
  31. Language
  32. Grammar
  33. Verbal communication
  34. You say an unusual word (the funnier the meaning, the better!) and ask if your grandchildren know what it means. For example, you might say "malodorous" (which means "stinking").
  35. If they don't know the word and can't guess its meaning, use it in a sentence.
  36. If they're still not able to guess the meaning, then have them look it up using a dictionary.
  37. Language
  38. Grammar
  39. Reading comprehension
  40. Visualization
  41. Reasoning
  42. Critical thinking
  43. Problem solving

Use Any Kind of Video Chat

I have an iPhone, so I use FaceTime when playing these games with my grandkids. However, other programs like Skype would work just as well! Any video chatting program should work fine.

1. The Guessing Game

Our first creative iPhone game was a simple guessing game using toys, small household items, tools, and just about anything small that would fit within the phone's frame view. We took turns showing a small piece of the item over the camera and asking if the other person could guess what it was.

Example of How to Play

This is a fun game, and it can go on endlessly depending on how many items you can find and how engaged the child is (and if grandma or grandpa can keep up). We have discovered that the fun part is to find items that are unusual, colorful, and with some mystery to the shape.

Some Items We Have Used to Play This Game

I must admit that my grandkids win most of the time on this game. They can come up with some clever guessing items, plus they have all those toys that they use to their advantage! Rest assured, as you learn to play this game with your grandkids, you will come up with some interesting items to display and guess.

Did you guess correctly? After a couple of wrong guesses, the full picture revealed a pink gel bracelet.

2. ABC Discover Me

This game is similar to Highway Alphabet. Set a time limit to find the letters around the home. You must pronounce the letter and show it over the phone when you see it for points. This game can be very competitive and provides "active" fun.

Educational Concepts and Benefits

3. Noun-Question Matchup

They usually do not match, and it is loads of fun to read them!

Educational Concepts and Benefits

Your grandkids will need to turn to the dictionary if they don't recognize the vocabulary words in the Word Lookup game. | Source

4. Word Lookup

Educational Concepts and Benefits

5. What Am I? Drawing Game

In this game, you describe an item to your grandkids, such as a cat, and see if they can draw it based on the imagery in your description. This is a really fun game because you never get it right, and the results are hilarious!

Educational Concepts and Benefits

The Rewards of Grandparenting Long Distance

The single most important thing a grandparent can do is to build a strong relationship with their grandchild. The bond between the two can lead to a satisfying relationship that not only helps both to understand the gap in ages, but also provides a mentoring avenue for the child.

We love talking with our grandkids, but in order to help them open up and feel comfortable sharing their lives, we need to find some common interests. I have discovered that playing games with them aids tremendously in building commonality, and it downplays the formality of a conversation, especially the aspect of being quizzed.

Games Help You Bond and Build Social Skills

Being comfortable speaking with an adult is a learned social skill, and grandparents can help build this skill by using games to make the communication fun. It opens up the relationship to one where the child can easily converse as needed about important events, discuss problems, and talk about the things they are passionate about in life.

Grandparenting long distance via video chat, especially using FaceTime, is a great technological advantage that provides continuity in a child's life. It conveys your love and interest while keeping the bonds that tie strong.

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