Making friends is a lifelong adventure – and starting young is key! Playdates are a great way for toddlers to spend time with their buddies, improve their communication skills, strengthen their critical thinking, boost their self-confidence, and, of course, have tons of fun!
Even though our new reality might put in-person playdates on pause, we have a few ideas on how to keep the fun going online. Here are 5 activities for your child’s next virtual playdate:
The first thing to do when everyone is logged on and glitch-free is an ice breaker! Here is when a scavenger hunt comes in. Pick a specific color or texture and encourage the kiddos on both sides of the screen to go and find the corresponding objects within their respective homes. For example, you can ask them to “find something red!” or “look for something squishy!” To move things along and not get stuck on this one activity, we also recommend setting a time limit – just keep an eye out on the running around to make sure they don’t grab something too heavy or too sharp. Once the objects are retrieved, the kids can do a show-and-tell to present what they found! (If you sense nothing but enjoyment from this activity, go for round #2… or even #3.)
If you have musical kids on the call, then we suggest pulling out the instruments for a virtual jam session! Parents can step in as the conductors (one at a time to avoid confusion), while kids jam away on their musical toys. You could let them play freely or guide them along the way by saying “go slow!” or “faster, faster!” for example. To make this activity educational, one of the parents could turn the session into a little lesson and teach the toddlers about musical notes or a simple melody. Or if the playdate stars are mini singers in the making, they could also put down the instruments and sing their hearts out to a song they both know. No matter which route you choose, this virtual activity is great for bringing whole families together for one, big musical show!
Another way to involve entire families is an online cook-off – just B. ready for things to get a lil’ messy! Before firing up the stoves, make sure that everyone agrees on a specific, kid-friendly recipe and gets all of the necessary ingredients. Once all is prepped and laid out, set up both devices in each other’s kitchens and get cooking! To keep kiddos engaged, we recommend choosing a recipe that is quick to make – that way, no one has to take lengthy breaks as something stews for two hours. During the cook-off, you can also encourage the children to pretend they’re chefs in their own restaurants and ask them to narrate what they’re doing! This is sure to add an imaginative touch to this yummy activity.
This activity would require the modelling assistance of a parent, sibling, or family member – and it would require super stillness. The first step is for the chosen models in each home to get comfortable and sit close to the screen, clearly enough for the playdate pal on the other side to see. Then it’s time for the challenge: both kiddos have to draw the portrait of the family member in the opposite home! As with the scavenger hunt, you can always up the fun factor by setting a time limit for the drawing. When time is up, pencils go down! The final step is the result. Ask the children to hold up their mini masterpieces one at a time, so that the person who inspired the drawing can take a good look. If there’s one thing we can guarantee, it’s a whole lot of giggles!
To end things on a calmer note, we encourage you to go for the classic activity of storytelling. If each family has their own set of books, then you can just read one book at a time. If you happen to have the same book, you can also divide the reading by pages or chapters – this makes it more engaging for both children, given that they’re paying attention to what’s at home and what’s in the screen. Although one-on-one virtual playdates are easier to manage, story time can work quite well on a group call in case your kiddo wants to see many of their friends at once. When it’s time to wrap it up, you can either ask the kids on the call what they thought of the story, challenge them to come up with an alternative ending, or simply close this playdate’s chapter!