Category Archives: Especially for Grandparents


Stumped about what to get for your favorite grandparent for Christmas, Hanuka or  a birthday? Whether you are searching for the perfect gift for a new Grammy or for seasoned grandparents, here is an idea that will bring grandparents closer to their grandchildren. It help them learn to Skype or FaceTime and make video chats more fun.

100+Fun Activities For Skype With Children is a simple to read book chock full of ways to improve video calls with infants, toddlers and school age children. Find it on Amazon.




Toddlers Are Learning During Skype and FaceTime Calls

I love seeing and talking to my grandchildren on Skype. It doesn’t surprise me then that interactive video calls can also be a means for toddlers and children to learn, and to develop and maintain relationships with others.

In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics discouraged screen time for kids under 2 years of age. These guidelines were developed when the screen time was prerecorded video. This type of screen time is a sedentary activity, inactive rather than interactive.  These videos don’t react or respond to those viewing it. Children spending too much passive screen time were found to have poor language skills and to miss out on other activities that were important for development.

Skype and FaceTime are different. Lauren Myers, PhD and colleagues at Lafayette College have demonstrated that video chat provides for an interactive relationship with others. This is great news for grandparents and parents.

Children in Myer’s study quickly noticed the difference between live and prerecorded video. Children were more interactive with the FaceTime live video, rather than the prerecorded video used in the study. They learned social information – they preferred and recognized someone they had met via video chat.  They also learned cognitive information like new words and patterns.

The conclusion is that children will engage and learn from screen time interactions. Video chat with Skype and FaceTime can represent quality time with your children or grandchildren.

Contact me and share your video call ideas

Dyslexia, Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangouts

Dyslexia, a specific learning disability, is quite common in children. The prevalence is estimated to be between 10-15 percent of children in the US, although far fewer children are diagnosed.

The child with dyslexia may have difficulty in reading, spelling and performing skills related to the use of printed language. It is thought that dyslexia is an inherited trait which runs in families. It is not low intelligence or laziness.

Children who have dyslexia benefit greatly by reading with an adult. Being a child’s reading buddy is a wonderful role for grandparents or for a parent who is not in residence because of work travel, military assignment, or divorce.

Reading using video call apps like Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts you can help a child advance their reading skills. There are also several new apps that can be downloaded either free or purchased that also can make reading fun. Some apps are just for iPad users; however, Ustyme is one that has been developed for both iPad and PC use. Others include Rootz, and Caribu

In the United States schools have a legal obligation to help children with dyslexia. Best results are achieved when dyslexia is diagnosed early, in kindergarten or first grade.
Reading with an adult using video call apps can be great fun. Take turns with the child, each reading one page. Asking questions about the story helps develop comprehension and thinking skills. Learning the sounds that letters make and developing phonemic awareness is important for developing skill in reading. To learn more about the techniques that teachers and tutors use for enhancing reading skills search the internet for Five Big Ideas in reading.

To learn more about dyslexia explore the internet. Two sites I can recommend are:

Have fun reading and share your ideas with me

Skype and Your College Student

Using Skype is one of the best ways to stay connected to your college age children & grandchildren. My Mom always said “you never stop being a parent”. Those words have repeated in my mind many times over the years. However, in addition to the trials of being a parent we also get to enjoy the joys of seeing our children’s successes as they head off to college.

Along with typical college supplies, today’s students are bringing Skype to college with them on their smart phones and computers. Colleges are developing Virtual Advising Centers. Once the teen becomes a student on campus, virtual appointments can be scheduled with their assigned advisor.  Skype is also developing a Resident Advisor Program where students can ask questions and share information with other students.

Most high school students have learned to connect with peers electronically. Now you will want to transfer that skill to staying connected with family. Telephone calls are fine but they can’t compare with actually seeing the person you miss being with. Facial expressions provide clues to feeling that may not be expressed.

Show and tell is still a favorite activity for students as they go off to college. The dorm room, the crowd at the football game, and a new friend are all fun for parents to see on Skype. Younger siblings who miss their older brother or sister can connect in this  special way.

Most important is to discuss how, when and how often you and your student will communicate so that you are not disappointed, and the student has the opportunity to learn to become independent.

Skype and The Teen Book Club

Communicating with teens is not always easy. My friend Janet recently told me about the Book Club that she started with two teenage grandchildren who live in different households.

One of the best ways to connect with young children during a video call is to read a book. As children get older they will be excited to read a book to you. Discussing books that teens have read and enjoyed is a great topic for video chat.  Janet uses the Skype group call feature so that she and the two teens, who live in different states, can meet together to share their thoughts about a story. The Club meets every two weeks during the school year and more frequently during school vacations.

While checking Amazon and Barnes & Noble online I discovered Anita Silvey. This author has published several book guides for children and teens including 500 Great Books for Books for teens192x300Teens published in 2006. Both websites will give you ideas for books for children & teens. Also, check with the experts at your local bookstore and library.

Janet shared that one of the favorite reads for her online Book Club was The Book Thief, a book that I enjoyed myself but thought of as an adult book. When I researched the book I discovered that it has won numerous children’s book awards including the School Library Journal Best Book of The Year, Publisher’s Weekly Best Children’s Book of The Year, and Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children’s Literature.  Incidentally, the book was made into a movie which also was an award winner. Now Janet plans to watch the movie with the two teens the next time they get together. A Movie Club may be in the making!

Contact me and share your video call ideas

Celebrate The 4th With Skype & Facetime

The 4th, as the holiday is sometimes referred to, is often celebrated with family events. For families that are separated from their loved ones this can be a difficult time. Independence Day is a national holiday celebrating the date that the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. Although the separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776 the document providing for the legal separation wasn’t finalized until July 4th.  Although there is some debate about whether the Declaration of Independence was actually signed on the 4th that is the date that appears on the document.

Create new traditions that connect you with your family across the miles. Wave or display a flag when you say hello on Skype or Facetime. Talk about celebrating the country’s birthday and play or listen to patriotic music. Tablets & phones can capture outdoor events like parades, picnics and sporting events that the child is participating in or that you want to share with the child. For older children and teens create a trivia game with facts about this period in history.

F is for flagRead History for Kids: The Fourth of July for Kids by Ian Fraser, or F is for Flag by Trudi Strain Trueit, or any of the over 50 books written for children about this holiday.

One of my favorite Skype visits was listening to and watching my grandchildren’s excitement in describing the parade that they had just attended. They proudly displayed the beads and candy thrown from parade floats and waved small flags. Seeing the excitement on their faces was priceless.

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Show & Tell With Skype & FaceTime


Looking for activities to enjoy when connecting with grandchildren on Skype and FaceTime? Some of our family’s best video calls were an old fashioned show & tell session. A grandchild comes home from daycare or school with a work of art or project and my daughter will suggest they call Grammy so she can see it. Another child might score a goal in a soccer match and call Poppy to describe the feat. If parents can take a few minutes to share the child’s excitement with other family members there is a lot of energy and good fun in the call. Some advice to grandparents……if parents (especially working parents) know that they can make a quick video call they will do it more frequently. You will enjoy seeing the excitement in the child’s facial expression and well as hearing their voice. Over the years we have found that although longer calls with our adult children are wonderful, other shorter calls have been been such great fun!

Share Books With Sound With Skype and FaceTime

One of the activities all my grandchildren love to share on Skype is reading books with Dinosaur350sound. It all began when I purchased Dinosaur written by Mark Radar and illustrated by Casey Sanborn. Dinosaur, whose name is Stegosaurus, is searching for his friend Frog. There is a button to make the sound of Stegosaurus, a second button to hear Stegosaurus stomp as he searches and a third button to hear Frog. What child doesn’t enjoy a game of hid and seek!

“Grammy, read Dinosaur.” All my grandchildren began to request that I read this book. When they came to visit the book was there for us to read together and it was enjoyed as an old familiar friend. Since that time I have added other books with sound. Roger Priddy has written many including Noisy Trucks. Others include Polar Bear, Polar Bear by Bill Martin and Around The Farm by Eric Carle. Consider reading books with sound as they have great appeal to children 16 months to school age.

Watch Plants Grow With Skype & FaceTime

Spring is in the air. Skype and video call have helped me share a great miracle of nature with my grandson.  He and I have been watching a pineapple top that I planted in a pot on my lanai when he was 2 years old. He has been very patient, but not disappointed. Pineapples are easy to grow, especially if you live in a warm climate. My friend Ruth had several in pots on her screened porch and I was hooked. All of those pests, that seem to bother my other plants, ignore the tough, thick leaves of my grandson’s pineapple.

We have watched it grow together with amazement . The first year it grew a lot! In Florida we have a year-round growing season and it loves the sun and heat. I took my small tablet computer outdoors to show him the progress during a video call on Skype. I emailed pictures to him. When he visited last spring he brought his small, soft, toy monkey out to see the pineapple whose leaves had grown to about 2 feet long in just one year.

We are both excitedly awaiting his visit to Florida next month – he is now 4 years old. He has seen the exciting progress that nature has produced. A red flower tucked into the center of the plant now looks like a miniature pineapple. It is a beautiful sight! I have three preschool grandchildren who will visit in April and I have no doubt that they will all be excited to see the pineapple plant. With a video call they will be able to see that pineapple mature and we will all be able to follow the progress on future video calls after they return home.

Share the joy of watching plants grow with the children in your life. Share your stories with us. 

Communicate with Teens Using Skype & FaceTime

If the teens you want to stay in touch with are reluctant to communicate try Skype or FaceTime. My friend Barbara recently told me that her teen grandchildren were communicating less often than when they were younger. Then she discovered Skype and began to enjoy the video chats so much more than telephone calls. Being able to see expressions and changes as children grow – and grow up – is a precious gift. With video chats parents and grandparents who are separated from their children can continue to play an important role in providing guidance to teens if they continue to be available to communicate on tough issues.

In my book Learn To Video Call With Children I provide examples of open-ended questions that will get more than a yes or no answer. The questions are appropriate for all ages, including teens. Some examples are: Can you tell me what you know about that? What is the best thing that happened today? What is the worst thing that happened? What do you think you should have done?

Growing up isn’t easy. Many teens assume that parents and grandparents don’t understand them – and sometimes we don’t. It is not unusual to experience a disconnect with teens. Some key points that you can consider when video calling with teens:

1. Listen and try to understand without confronting, even if you disagree.
2. Keep your comments short and don’t lecture.
3. Ask questions to explore thoughts & behaviors before making assumptions.
4. Be willing to praise rather than criticize.

Here are some webpages with other suggestions:

Send me some of your favorite stories about communicating with teens using video call.