According to Abraham Maslow, social interaction is one of the basic human needs. It comes after physiological and safety needs. In this time of pandemic and quarantine, we take care of our kids in the comforts and security of our home. We feed them food to keep them healthy; and different activities to keep them cognitively sound and entertained. While we spend so much time with them nowadays, they still need to connect to their peers. Like us, adults, virtual meetup is the only way possible these days.
I’ve made a similar list for the titas, now I am adapting one for the kids. I will be including similar virtual activities for kids, 8 to 11 years old, where chat and video conferencing platforms are to be used. Most are games, since well, we know our kiddos!
Virtual Activities for Kids 1: Celebrations
On top of my list are celebrations! I feel that birthdays are supposed to be shared with loved ones, family and friends. But since we are all staying at home, Zoom parties and recorded video greetings are hip these days. For my son’s quarantine birthday last April, we video-called family when he blew out the candles on his cake and he told me he felt so loved. But the highlight of his day was when he watched his friends greet him on video later in the day. He was giddy and happy!
Since school is starting for some of us this month, I also thought about other celebrations they can do online such as those they usually do in school like Independence Day (but this has passed us already), Nutrition Month in July, Buwan ng Wika in August, etc. Of course, the moms are supposed to connive and plan these out, but I am sure it will be new and exciting!
Virtual Activities for Kids 2: Online App games
App games have been around even before the pandemic and the kids have been having fun playing even when they do not personally know who they were playing with. This time, however, I think is the best time to play these games in real time with their real-life friends. While playing, I guess, they will also be able to catch up with one another and continue to hone friendships they formed before.
Examples of games they can play together are Roblox, Uno, Mario Kart Tour, Scrabble Go, among others. All these are free. You need to download it from Play Store or App Store. I would suggest 100% supervision in these games, though, since your child and their friends might be joined by someone you don’t know.
Virtual Activities for Kids 3: Online games on Zoom
On a tablet, a laptop or desktop, the kids can also play web-based games on Zoom. Use the share-screen and annotate features. Games like Scattergories, Chess, and others are available for free. You can play even without creating an account. Zoom also works on cellphones as long as you download the app but the screen will be too small. You can also easily find a variety of educational games on the web than in App or Play Store.
Virtual Activities for Kids 4: Make a music video
Apps like Tik Tok and Smule lets your child create a dance or a song video. Kids have a choice if they want to do it solo, with you or with a friend from a far. Like any other app out there, supervise your child when using them to avoid lurking strangers about to do something we’ll regret.
Virtual Activities for Kids 5: Doodle
For our artists and illustrators, Zoom, with the use of whiteboard and annotate features can be used to create digital art. Just make sure that both are using laptop or tablet, or else, only the host will be able to make marks. If your child is used to Paint, this can also be screen shared with annotate feature on Zoom. This is best done for “drawing playdates,” where kids who love to draw, virtually meet and create an artwork together. The result can be saved and kept for printing later. Have them both sign it and it will be a great memorabilia from this time.
Virtual Activities for Kids 6: Pictionary and Charades
If your kids don’t just want to draw, then turn it into a game. Play Pictionary! Like what I’ve written for the titas, teams or players should have their own pool of words to draw. Have your kids think of words to have other players guess. Draw this from a jar, then draw the picture on the whiteboard feature. Have the other players raise their hand, virtually or physically to guess. I think its best to have an adult facilitate the game for implementation of rules, time keeping and scoring.
Same virtual conditions apply to Charades, except for the use of whiteboard feature. Well, Zoom’s whiteboard can be used to keep track of scores. But with the players’ own pool of words to act out, they only need a space to use their bodies in giving clues.
Virtual Activities for Kids 7: Movie time
My son used to have regular playdates when he was a toddler and TV time was a fun time for the adults. The kids all tune in to the TV and it was amusing to watch them crack up at a funny part of the show. Missing their friends, movie time will also be an opportunity for them to watch each other on the small windows while a movie is playing on the shared screen.
Virtual Activities for Kids 8: House tour
For a group of kids who are just starting to have virtual playdates, this is a great ice breaker. I have seen my son do this on Facebook Messenger video call when it was the first time that a classmate of his called him. His classmate just asked where he was and he ended up showing the entire house to him. Later, I can hear that it was his classmate’s turn to show their house to him, on video. It was entertaining to watch them share their spaces with pride and joy. The kids can take turns to conduct a house tour while on video call with 3 or more of their friends.
Virtual Activities for Kids 9: Ice breaker, jokes and riddles
For titas and moms, we can sustain long conversations about anything under the sun. But for kids, I am wildly guessing that they cannot. They need guide questions so they know what to talk about, especially now that they have just stayed at home for more than 3 months. Riddles, jokes, quizzes and ice breaker questions can be found on printed books, or on the internet. They will need a list to keep the topics coming. They can do this on chat apps or via video calls.
Virtual Activities for Kids 10: Do stuff together, i.e. bake, Lego, crafts
As this is the new normal of these times, they can actually do anything together! We, the parents, we can match them by their interests and similarities and help them prepare for activities they want to do together. It can be baking, building Lego, making crafts or even conducting science experiments!
Some may think that virtual play dates are not necessary, but I think otherwise. My son is a shy one and locked up like this, (I bet, he is enjoying his time) will not help him develop his confidence and self-esteem. He needs exposure and plotting activities with friends, I believe, will help him be social while having fun. I hope you give one or two of these a try and I hope it helps your child and his or her friends ease the yearning to spend time together!