Help your child find ways to stay connected to friends and family from a distance, with these fun virtual playdate ideas for kids!
We are definitely living in extraordinary times these days, with social distancing and quarantine being the new norm around the world due to the exponential spread of the scary virus, COVID-19.
But for kids, especially little ones, it’s hard to truly grasp the realities at hand. They are just innocent children looking to stay in touch with friends through play.
Even when you break up the day, and let your kids burn off energy outdoors for a bit or let them problem-solve alone. What do you do when the neighbor comes running over to play when you’re trying to teach a 4-5-year-old about keeping a safe distance?
It’s tough, but you just have to keep at it.
Social Distancing When You Have Little Kids
Here are a few things you can do to help kids practice social distancing during quarantine or shelter-in-place :
Teach your kids WHY keeping away from friends is sometimes necessary
Yes, it’s hard to get little kids to listen…especially if they already are struggling in the day-to-day. But it’s important to go over the basics of serious situations, like the current times, in a way they can understand.
- Break it down in simple terms that make sense to them – use social stories and language they can understand.
- Help them understand how germs spread with a simple science experiment.
- Remind them that it is only temporary until people feel better or doctors find a vaccine.
Show your kids HOW far apart they need to be to keep everyone safe
Sometimes visuals can work wonders with little ones who don’t always hear what you say. Show them what it looks to actually keep their distance.
And keep in mind, even if your outdoors, this is NOT a time to have playdates. But if you find you are out and about on a walk and people are also out, teach your kids to still keep their distance, despite what others are doing. Viruses are airborne and can still pose a danger.
Use a broomstick or pool noodle to show them how far apart they need to stand from friends and neighbors when playing outside or on a family hike.
Continue to reinforce the importance of handwashing for 20-30 seconds by singing Happy Birthday two times or any of their favorite songs. You can also use a cool timer to make sure they get the timing right!
Finally, give them ideas of WHAT they can do to play with friends from a distance
Below are 12 virtual playdate ideas for little kids. These are simple games toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary-age children can play online via video chat using something like FaceTime, WhatsApp or Zoom.
As long as you have an iPhone, iPad, or computer, you should be good to go!
Virtual PlayDate Ideas for Little Kids
Try these fun online play ideas to help your kids spend time with friends from a safe distance.
- Read Books Aloud
- As simple as it sounds, having the kids read to their friends over the computer is a great way to keep in touch while practicing so many skills, like language and speech. Pick a book theme each week or just have your kids choose their favorite classics.
- Tell Jokes
- Let’s be real. Kids love being silly. What better way to have some fun together than a few knock-knock jokes?!
- Play Dolls & Dinos
- Let your kids parallel play across the screen with whatever favorite toy characters they enjoy. Dolls, dinos or robots.
- Try BINGO
- Although they may need a little help with the set-up, letting your kids play BINGO together over the computer is an easy way to help them stay connected while having fun. Grab a kid-friendly BINGO theme or use a free printable you can both easily access.
- If your child is in preschool and used to having a designated show-and-tell day, why not carry on the tradition, while you’re stuck at home? This is such a great way to bring routine back to their day too!
- Magic Show
- Whether it’s a magic show, play or puppet show, kids love a good performance. Easy entertainment perfect to try over the screen.
- Charades is another easy playdate idea for kids to do virtually. Have them act out an animal, action or verb and see how much fun they can still have.
- Why not go back to basics and just have the kids sing together for some instant entertainment!
- Read lips
- Another fun virtual playdate idea is to have the kids try to read each other’s lips. You can even make it a little educational by having them choose a sight word from their list and practice guessing sounds.
- Ask questions
- Let your kids ask each other questions in a fun interview-style to help them learn a little more about each other: what’s your favorite color, when’s your birthday, what do you want to be when you grow up?
- Draw portraits
- If your child loves drawing like most little ones, have them draw portraits with their friends. You could also turn it into a Pictionary type play and have them guess each other’s artwork. It will add lots of giggles and fun to their time together.
- Play musical instruments
- Have an instant music lesson while playing with your favorite musical instruments. Just be sure to grab some earplugs as it will be sure to get a little loud!!
I hope these ideas will bring you a little peace knowing there are still safe ways for your kids to play during social distancing times.
So the next time your neighbor comes running into your yard, you can simply explain, “Sorry we can’t play right now. It’s social distancing time. But we can try FaceTime later,” to help ease the situation and keep everyone safe.
Be sure to click to grab a PRINTABLE LIST of all these virtual ways to play.
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.