How To Make A Skype Test Call

One of the features that I really like with the Skype app for video call is that you can make a Skype test call to check the sound of your computer speakers. Once you have signed on to your Skype account find the listing for Echo/Sound Test Service or Skype Test Call in Sound Testyour list of contacts.  If you don’t see Echo/Sound Test Service or Skype Test Call in your list of contacts type Test CallEcho in the search box right above your contacts and that should bring it up. Once you see the test, double click on the green call button and it will bring up the sound test window.

Click the green call button Test Callto start the test. Follow the instruction and you should hear a recording asking you to record a message. Record a short message…as simple as Testing 1-2-3. Once you stop speaking wait a few seconds and the test will play back your message. You will be able to hear and evaluate the quality of the sound. If you hear your own voice you have been successful in setting up your sound equipment. You then can click on the red telephone icon to hang up the test call. Red Phone

If you have a problem with the sound check out the troubleshooting videos in SKYPE HELP. Select HELP in the menu at the top of the page. This will bring up a page titled Solving Call Quality Problems (Windows Desktop). There are also links on this page for Mac and Linux users. Scroll down the page to find Audio in the list and follow that link to some helpful hints to solve a variety of common audio problems.

Follow these links to for instructions for Linux and Mac:

Gardening with Children on Skype and Facetime

Looking for ways to engage children in a video call with Skype or FaceTime? Think about the many options available for gardening. We just celebrated Earth Day with our 3 year old by taking care of plants outdoors. One year ago in April I planted the top of pineapple Butterfly3in a small pot. Over the year my grandson watched it grow on Skype. As it outgrew the small pot we shared the fun of putting it in a larger pot and watching it grow even more. Last week when he visited us in Florida he got to water the pineapple plant along with herbs and other plants outdoors. By next April we hope to have our first pineapple to enjoy.

Children love to watch plants grow and through video call you can encourage and share the fun. For younger children you can start with a simple carrot, pineapple top or herbs. Edible gardens are fun to share during video calls and on special visits to your home. Plants that attract butterflies also attract children as they watch in awe as the butterflies appear. With older children gardening provides an opportunity to discuss weather and the environment, use of herbs, insects, water conservation and many other science topic. Here are some great resources to learn more about Gardening with kids:

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How To Select A Video Call Application

Skype, FaceTime, Fring, Tango, Movicha are all applications available to make video calls, and  there are others. Which Application or app is best for you? Apple’s Macintosh computers offer the application called FaceTime to make video calls to other Mac computers, and to an iPad or iPhone. You need an Apple ID and email address to make video calls using FaceTime. All new apple products come with the FaceTime application already installed so unless you have an older device you will not have to download the FaceTime video call app.

FaceTime has the limitation that it cannot be used to make video call to devices that are not Apple products. Unlike Skype which can be used with most computers, including FaceTime2Apple computers, FaceTime is only compatible with Apple devices. FaceTime is also limited to making calls over Wi-Fi or cellular, this limits where you can make calls. At this time group calls are also not possible with FaceTime. Most FaceTime users agree that it is very easy to use and the video quality is usually great, so FaceTime is a good app for users of Apple Products.

Many computers, that are not Apple products come with the Skype app installed. The big advantage of Skype is that you can call any computer with Skype including Apple Skype Logocomputers. If you don’t have Skype installed you can quickly download the app to your computer or telephone by going to Be sure that you are on the official Skype website when downloading this app.

Another advantage of Skype is that you can make group calls. While on a video call with any contact, you can add another contact-Skype says up to ten contacts. This is an especially nice feature when
celebrating holidays and other special occasions with family members that are in several different locations. Skype requires that you have their Premium Membership to make group calls.

Skype, Fring, Tango and Movicha all allow you to make video calls between Apple
and Android devices. When selecting an application to make video calls you need to consider the type of devices – phone, tablet and computer you have, as well as the type
of devices that the people you want to call have.

If all your calls are to other Apple devices FaceTime is fine. However, if you will be calling others who do not have Apple devices you will want to consider Skype or one of the other applications.



Video Call, Children and Music


Using music during a video call is a wonderful way to interact with children. Singing Pat a Cake, Pat a Cake got the attention of my grandson at five months of age. As I began singing he looked directly at me on the computer screen and smiled while his mother put his hands together and clapped. Repetition of favorite songs is so much fun for children.

Itsy Bitsy Spider is another favorite.  Playing games with songs and gentle touch will pull the child’s attention to the computer screen. Children as young as five or six months can play with a little assistance. A parent holding the child can gently move her fingers up the baby’s arms to stimulate the itsy bitsy spider climbing the water spout. Clapping baby’s hands together while singing Pat a Cake helps the child participate with you in a musical game they delight in. There is no shortage of great children’s songs. If need to refresh your memory look in my book Learn to Video Call With Kids where I list over fifty favorite children’s songs. Children’s songs can also be found on the Internet.

Two and three year olds can play simple instruments and a good quality child’s xylophone is great fun for the child to play for you during a video call. Older children who are taking music lessons can share a new song they have learned during your call. If both you and the child play an instrument, play a song together during your video call. You may be miles apart but you will enjoy the activity as if you were in the same room.


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Sharing Jokes and Riddles On Skype & FaceTime


Simple jokes are a wonderful way to get children giggling. With video call you can see the smiles as well as hear the laughter.  Both the library and internet are great resources for riddles and jokes. Below are a few to get you started.

Why does a flamingo lift up one leg?
   Because if he lifted up both legs, he would fall down!

Why do birds fly south in the winter?
Because it’s too far to walk!

What is a volcano?
A mountain with hiccups!

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
   Olive who?
   Olive you!

Have fun, be silly and share some giggles.


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Video Call and Hearing Accessibility

One in five computer users are believed to have some hearing loss. Add the large number shutterstock_80960722of aging boomers to the mix and those needing assistance with hearing while using  a computer is likely to rise.

Video call is helpful for those with hearing problems as it allows for face-to-face contact, lip reading and sign language. Winks, smiles and other facial gestures, which can be seen with video call, are helpful in understanding speech. With Skype, ichat or
FaceTime, students and adults can communicate easily with sign language.Mixer

speakers buttonThe quality and volume of sound can be adjusted on computers and hand held devices such as phones.  On computers look for the speaker button located on the task bar – often on the bottom of your screen. When you click on this icon the volume mixer should open, or you may have to select it, but it looks similar to the picture on the right. You can raise or lower the volume of your speakers using the slide bar on the volume mixer.

Skype has a great feature where you can make a test call to check your computer speakers and quality of the sound. In your Skype contacts you will see Echo/Sound Test or Skype Test Call. Once you see the test button double click on it and it will bring up the sound test window. If you click on the green call button you can start the test. You will be asked to record a short message. When you stop speaking your will be able to hear your voice recording played back and hear the quality of the sound.

The sound can also be improved for some with a headset – speakers worn right on the ears. Some headsets plug into the computer, others are wireless. There is a wide range of hearing assistive features that are available with all computer products. You can search online on the following sites for some great ideas for hearing accessibility:




Video Call And The Best February Holidays Ever

Depositphotos_2527527_m-balVideo call is a must for parents who travel for work, and for military families. It’s also great fun for grandmothers like me. February’s holidays and special occasions are times to share with your little ones on Skype or FaceTime .

If you want to have the best Valentine’s Day ever make a video call and ask what the child thinks love is – get ready for some wonderful definitions. Watch younger  children open Valentines and send craft supplies to older children and watch them make Valentines. Read The Story of Valentine’s Day by Nancy Skarmeas to toddlers and young children.

February also brings Presidents’ Day and Flag Day. This is a good opportunity to ask children if they know why we celebrate Presidents’ Day.  Wear red, white and blue; display a flag that can be discussed. Send a small flag that the child can wave. Read President’s Day by David Marx.
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Skypito – Keeping Children Safe Online

shutterstock_92398804SmRiding a bicycle can be dangerous so we teach our children about safety and provide safety equipment such as a helmet. Protecting your child when they use this wonderful video call technology should also be a priority.

Designed by EasyBits in conjunction with Skype, Skypito is an application you can download free of charge. It is designed for children two to fourteen years of age to help them feel independent while using the computer, at the same time, it is a safety feature which gives parents control of the child’s contact list.

Parents preapprove, with a password, those individuals with whom a child is allowed to chat. The child friendly graphics and games make this program kid friendly. It
requires the regular Skype program to be downloaded as well. Explore Skypito at

Just as there are telephone scams, there are also online scams—be aware and take precautions. Keep your child safe.

Opening Gifts on Skype or FaceTime


“Grandma, I love it!!!” This gift, a puzzle for our three year old grandson, was a big hit. Excitement could be seen in his broad smile as he jumped and clapped his hands.

Have you ever sent a gift to a child and then wondered what he really thought about it? A telephone call or a note thanking you for a gift is very nice to receive.  However, it isn’t as much fun as actually watching the child open the gift. I’m still a fan of the written thank-you note, and an email thank-you is just fine. However, nothing is quite as satisfying as the excitement of seeing someone open a gift that they really enjoy receiving.

Opening the gift during a video call also gives young children an opportunity to identify with the person who purchased the gift. With a video call you are right there in the room enjoying that time together.

Be prepared as the reaction may not always be what you expect or hope for. I once sent pajamas that I thought my two-year-old grandson would love. What I learned was that the stickers on the package were much more interesting to him than the PJs. As a result of that observation, I added stickers to other packages that I mailed and I didn’t send clothes to my other grandchildren until they were older and could appreciate that gift.

The reaction to the puzzle was a real treat. We also watched our grandson put the puzzle together with a little help from his Dad. When he finished he said “can we do it again?” It was a priceless moment and memory.

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Play Hide and Seek on Skype or FaceTime

I just love all the great video call ideas that I get from friends and family. My friend Carol recently shared her experience playing Hide and Seek with her 3 year old granddaughter Meghan. Hide and Seek is a game where one player attempts to conceal their location while other players attempt to find them.

This is a favorite game for children of all ages. Hide and seek can be played indoors or shutterstock_143948665weboutdoors, with several children or just one. With older children and multiple players outdoors would be more practical. A tree or other landmark is designated as Home Base. As the person who is It searches, all players attempt to reach the safety of Home Base.

With a young child remaining in one room that has some favorite hiding places is just fine. Setting down some rules is a good idea. For example Megan knew in advance that she would be hiding in the family room only. Grandma would be It – the person who attempts to find the child.

Meghan’s mom signed onto Skype on her mobile phone in Pennsylvania. Carol was sitting at home in Florida. Meghan was excitedly waiting to play one of her favorite games with her grandmother.

To begin the game the person who is It covers their eyes with their hands and slowly counts to ten – grandma began to count while Meghan scampered to one of her favorite hiding places. The person who is It is not allowed to peek until the count is done. Once the person who is It is finished counting they shout Ready or not here I come!  

With a little help from mom – moving the mobile phone to look behind the sofa and under a table, grandma was able to search for Meghan. Finally two little feet where spotted behind a curtain and Meghan squealed with delight. Of course, she wanted to play again and again.

Don’t let the distance stop you from enjoying playing games with the children you are far away from. Be creative – have fun with video call!

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