One of the activities all my grandchildren love to share on Skype is reading books with sound. 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.
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.
It’s so much fun to share your love face-to-face with those you are separated from. Skype and FaceTime can help you to give the best Valentine’s gift of all. It’s easy and it’s free! Almost all computers come with a video call application (app). Apple computers come with FaceTime and those using Microsoft Windows come with Skype. You can download Skype to any computer if you don’t have it.
Parents and grandparents separated from the children they love can talk about what love is and their love for the child. “Daddy loves you and I’m so happy to see you on this special day.” Read to the child one of many children’s books with a Valentine’s theme, here are just a few:
Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George by N. DiAngelo and Mary O’Keefe Young
My Fuzzy Valentine (Sesame Street) by Naomi Kleinberg and Louis Womble
Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine by Herman Parish and Lynne Avril
The Story of Valentine’s Day by Nancy Skarmeas
Don’t forget to blow a kiss when you say good-by. Even very young children enjoy catching your kisses and sending their love to you with a kiss on a video call.
Have you tried telling jokes during a video chat? With school age children this can be lots of fun. Keep them simple: Why do birds fly north in the winter? Because it’s too far to walk! Or, What is a volcano? A mountain with hiccups! I just discovered Rob Elliott’s book LAUGH OUT LOUD JOKES FOR KIDS. Elliott includes Question & Answer jokes, Animal jokes, Knock Knock jokes, Tongue Twisters and some funny questions to think about.
In the Knock Knock jokes section there are jokes with children’s names. If the child that you video chat with is named Anna, Samantha, Lee, Cameron, or many others, there is a Knock Knock joke for that name – Wow!! If you didn’t find the name of your child or grandchild the book will give you ideas so you can make up your own personalized Knock Knock joke.
Share your video call ideas with me – firstname.lastname@example.org
For those that are new to video chat consider using the Skype software. Skype, which is one of the most established video chat apps, has good access to support for users. It’s easy to find answers to your questions on the website Skype.com by selecting Get help at the top of the page, and then selecting Skype support. A page with a large search screen pops up. Just type in your question and click on the magnifying glass, or hit enter, to search for an answer. You can get Skype for your computer, without charge by selecting the link to download the software. For tablets and phones you go to the app store for your devise and download the app. You will be instructed to create a user name and password. Skype is available for Apple and Android devices.
When you are signed in to use Skype you can also easily access this same help page. To the right of your name select the three small dots. Then select Help and feedback. A pop up box will appear where you can select Get help . That also takes you to the Skype help page.
If you are new to Skype select the smiley face icon to Get Started. Find the list for answers about the latest version of Skype, and below that a list for frequently asked questions – FAQ.
You can find the answers on the help page about using Skype for messaging, connecting to Facebook, using different devices and much more………..
If you are a visual learner there are also short videos available on YouTube that will help you to enjoy using Skype.
Lillian Tibbles is a grandmother and author of 3 books about Video Chat with Kids.
Her latest book How to Have Fun with Kids & Grandkids Using Video Chat is available
in both digital and print format.
Preschool children are on the go, running, climbing, and jumping. Their attention span is often short. Don’t expect a two year old to stay in front of a web cam for very long. Their attention span is about 3-6 minutes. Some of the best video calls at this age happen when the parent can position the computer so the web cam scans a large area of the room. Watch the child select toys to play with.
Parents can encourage interaction by suggesting the child show the caller a favorite toy. Often children will come smiling toward the computer to let you see what they have. Cars, trucks, pull toys, dolls, dress up clothes and costumes are all enjoyed at this age and can be shared with the caller.
Don’t be surprised if you preschooler who has enjoyed chatting unexpectedly decides that they don’t want to participate in a video chat. Enjoy chatting with parents or siblings and the reluctant participant may just saunter back to participate when they are ready. I have discovered that even on a day when a youngster is reluctant to interact he usually comes back to wave goodbye and throw some kisses my way.
Share stories with children or grandchildren on Skype no matter how far away you are. Reading to children on Skype or Face Time demonstrates your enthusiasm for reading and can encourage a child to read and love books. When reading to children during a video call try using different voices for different characters or props to attract interest. Hold the book page close to the webcam after reading each page so the child can clearly see the pictures. Read poems and stories, and for older children, try newspaper or magazine articles.
Take a look at Pam Allyn’s book What to Read When for an extensive annotated list of more than three hundred book titles for children from birth to ten years. One of my grandson’s favorite books to read with me is Dinosaur. It has three sound buttons, stegosaurus’s sound, the sound of his stomping as he tries to find his friend Frog and the sound that Frog makes.
Sending a book that you have on Skype or Face Time to the child is a special gift.
If you have a favorite book to read on Skype contact me and let us know.
Virtual visitation or electronic-visitation with Skype or FaceTime has opened up a new way to stay connected with children following divorce. In the best of situations parents will focus on what is best for the child following separation or divorce. Research clearly shows that children do best when they have contact with both parents, and that they suffer when an adversarial approach is taken. Although virtual visitation or e-visitation is not meant to be a substitute or replacement for face-to-face visitation, it does open up many new opportunities for non custodial parents.
How Can You Get Started with Virtual Visitation?
It is important for parents to understand how the affects of divorce vary with the age of the child. A good developmental book like The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide, Caring For Your Baby and Young Child can be helpful. A summary of these stages in also included in my book Learn To Video Call With Kids. Know what books, and activities are appropriate to share at different ages. For example, you can connect with infants with just your voice. Infants can recognize the voices of their parents if they have heard those voices prior to birth. Older babies love songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider and Pat-A-Cake as well as books with big bright pictures. Playing peek-a-boo with a scarf or towel is fun for young children and hand or finger puppets can quickly draw attention to you on the computer monitor.
As children get older they love to “show and tell” about their activities, toys, or milestones like stacking blocks, riding a tricycle, playing dress up. You can share hobbies, play an instrument, celebrate birthdays and holidays and watch children open gifts.
Virtual Visitation Can Be Court Mandated
Like all other custodial questions it is better if parents can work out solutions together. When that isn’t possible courts in seven states now can mandate electronic visitation.
States that currently mandate virtual visitation include:
Utah, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Indiana. Legislative efforts and pre-draft bills can be found in other states. A good website that provides links to state virtual visitation and child custody laws is http://www.internetvisitation.org. The links can be found on their Legislation page.
Consider virtual visitation with Skype or FaceTime and enjoy seeing as well as hearing your child.
Contact me and share your video call ideas
My own recent visit to the dentist brought back a great memory of the day that our three year old grandson visited the dentist for the first time. He was so enthusiastic about the visit that my daughter suggested a Skype visit so he could tell us all about it.
He was smiling broadly when he appeared on the Skype screen. He chatted about every detail of the visit. How the office looked, and the earphones he wore to listen to music while his teeth were cleaned. With glee he showed us the the toy ice cream cone that he received as gift from the dentist as he excitedly popped the ice cream – a foam rubber ball – from the cone several times. Lastly, he showed us the Hulk tooth brush (one of his favorite characters) and the floss that he had received in a “goodie bag” from the dentist.
This was one of our favorite Skype visits because our grandson shared a first experience with us as we sat back and enjoyed listening. We are fortunate that our children often suggest a video call when one of the children is especially excited about something special, a new activity, or a new accomplishment. It can be some of their art work, a gift received, a trip to the park, or the first trip to the dentist. We have watched first steps and listened to first words – Skype has given us great memories to enjoy. Video call with apps like Skype, FaceTime or Google video can do the same for you.
Contact me and share your video call ideas
Communicating with children is sometimes a challenge, particularly when you are separated. Recently my friend Barbara told me that she sometimes found it difficult to find topics to talk with her grandchildren about while on Skype. Parents or grandparents can quickly learn to ask questions that will encourage conversation and get more than just a yes or no answer. In our family a favorite question is:
What was the best thing that happened today?
The following are ten basic questions that might help you get started during a video call:
1. I heard that you had a great day today – can you tell me about it?
2. I heard that you had a rough day today – can you tell me about it?
3. What do you think you should have done?
4. What will you do next time?
5. What happened next?
6. What do you like to do after school?
7. I see you have a new haircut, new shirt, lost tooth….tell me about that?
8. I feel sad about that; how do you feel?
9. Can you tell me about your dog?
10. And then what happened?
Don’t hesitate to ask children what they would like to talk about or share something that you did in your day. By age 3 many children have a vocabulary of several hundred words and can speak in sentences. Consider teaching a limerick, a song, or reading a poem or book that the child can enjoy. Don’t let the distance be a barrier to finding topics that you can enjoy together.
Contact me and share your video call ideas