During these trying times, it’s even more difficult than usual to be with our family during Thanksgiving. Make them miss Grandma even more when you play these Thanksgiving games with them over the Internet.
This year we’ve gotten really good at video calls, wouldn’t you agree? It has certainly made our isolation much better to be able to connect with our far away family members, that’s for sure. I’m sure, by now, you probably have a routine for your video calls, but it’s a holiday and time to shake things up a bit.
We’ve compiled a bunch of games and activities you can use to keep your grandchildren engaged and having fun with you during your call.
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When is the Best Time to Call for Thanksgiving?
Don’t forget to bring up the subject of when to call as soon as possible with your family. Is it better to call on the holiday or on the weekend? Maybe your kids will want you to keep the grandkids busy while they are getting things ready. It’s important to schedule your calls, though, because there is nothing worse than calling when something really fun is already going on.
Thanksgiving Video Call – A New Twist on an Old Tradition
Many people make a phone call to their loved ones on or around a holiday, but this year, let’s start doing it with each grandchild. Give them some special Grandma and Grandpa time, instead of a quick hello on the family call.
On top of starting this, you can institute a tradition within a tradition. What does that mean? Simply put, it means that your Thanksgiving call, somewhat like what you would do in person, has a rhythm, a traditional agenda.
It could go something like this:
- Read a Thanksgiving story.
- Tell your grandchild about a Thanksgiving you remember when you were a kid, or one when his parent was a child.
- Play a game or do an activity.
- Sign off.
Read Aloud Thanksgiving Books for Children
When reading aloud to kids over the Internet, there’s a couple of ways you can do it. You can hold the book to read, then show them the pictures or you can buy a copy for them ahead of time, so they can follow along with you. It’s also a good idea to take video of your call when reading the book, so your grandson or daughter and go back and watch it whenever they like.
Here are a few Thanksgiving books I recommend:
- Taylor the Tooting Turkey: A Story About a Turkey Who Toots (Farts)
- How to Catch a Turkey
- I Am Thankful: A Thanksgiving Book for Kids
- Turkeys (Bullfrog Books: Animals on the Farm)
- Peyton Picks the Perfect Pie: A Thanksgiving Celebration
- The Night Before Thanksgiving
- Turkey Trouble
- Bear Says Thanks (The Bear Books)
Capitalize on Existing Thanksgiving Traditions
What do we think about when we think of how we celebrate Thanksgiving? I think about baking pies a couple of days before, preparing the feast while watching the Macy’s Parade and maybe watching some football or the National Dog Show. Then whoever has come over eats, eats, and eats. Afterwards, we play board games or sit around and chat or watch some more TV. What do you do?
Well, take those things and share them with your grandchildren, even if you aren’t there. You can time your call and watch the Macy’s parade together, or if you are into football, watch the game. You might want to make a Thanksgiving recipe book or cook one of your favorites together.
For example, if you love making pumpkin pie, why not teach it while you are online to one of your grandchildren? Maybe her mom can buy the ingredients and be somewhat close to loosely supervise while the two of you spend an hour or so making your favorite pumpkin pie recipe? I’m sure she would love it.
It’s just about imagining what you would regularly do on a Thanksgiving day and transferring that activity to the computer.
Thanksgiving Games and Activities
Take a Thanksgiving Tour
While you are online, you and your grandson can walk around, in and out of the house to see what’s going on. Is Dad basting the turkey? Is Sis playing a video game? Maybe Mom is outside playing catch with the dog. No matter what time of day, there’s going to be lots of people doing something. You can compare and contrast what’s going on in your house versus his. (5-10 minutes)
Using the Thanksgiving Word List
Download our Thanksgiving word list and use it in a number of ways:
- You can have a scavenger hunt around the house seeing how many things you can tick off the list. (5-10 minutes)
- You can play Pictionary or Charades with it. (up to 20 minutes)
- You can write a story or article about this year’s Thanksgiving, using as many words on the list as you can. (5 minutes and up)
Tonya or Tony Turkey Story
Together make up a story about this year’s turkey that gets away. Kids love to make up silly stories, so the more unbelievable and snicker-worthy, the better. After the story is written, you can type it up and send it to your grandson while he illustrates it. Then he can share it with the rest of the family later on, and you’ll both be creating a wonderful memory. (upwards of 15 minutes)
You can also download our colorful turkey memory cards, as well as send a copy to each of your grandchildren and then you can each play on your own set. (about 10 minutes)
The pilgrims have nothing on us. We’re going on a Turkey hunt. It’s always good if you can enlist someone to help you with this one. Maybe Mom can download a set, cut them up and hide them around the house for you and your granddaughter to find later on. If not, you can always hide them with your granddaughter and have Mom or brother or somebody else find them. (10-15 minutes)
Thanksgiving Gif and Emoji Story
As you are well aware, everyone loves using gifs and emojis. How fun would it be, especially with a pre-teen or teenager, to write some sentences or an entire story using them. When you are finished, you can send it to Mom and Dad and see if they can figure it out. It would be even sillier if they are video recorded as they try to figure it out. (15 minutes minimum)
Thanksgiving Show and Tell
The old school show and tell is always popular with kids. Ask your grandson to find one object (it doesn’t have to be his) in the house , that reminds him about what makes him happy or he’s thankful about. An example might be that he finds the beach towel that he got last summer while vacationing with his family in Florida. This can spark a conversation about how lucky he is. You take your turn as well. One each is a starting point, but I’ve found that the kids keep thinking of more and more things to be thankful about once they get going, so it can last a little longer. (5 minutes minimum)
Thanksgiving Zoom Call for the Whole Family
Even though we think it’s super special to have a one-on-one call with your grandchildren to keep connected to them, we also think there is plenty of room for a full-on multi-person, multi-family call as well.
Using Zoom.us, you can set up a multi-family free call in seconds. You just have to do it ahead of time, so don’t try and set it up last minute. You need to sign up with the service, and for your call you can have up to 100 people for 40 minutes. This is usually plenty of time for everyone to touch base!
A Few Steps for a Successful Zoom Call
- Determine a time (think of all time zones) and send it out to whomever you want to invite.
- Gather their email addresses.
- Sign up for the service and set up the call. Zoom will walk you through it.
- Have a plan on what you want to do.
Some Thanksgiving Ideas for Your Zoom Call
- Go around and ask everyone what they are thankful for this year. (Warn them ahead of time, so they are ready.)
- Have each family take center stage while everyone else can screen shot a photo of them.
- Have them all wear the same color, wear crazy socks and hold their feet up, or make turkey feathers and adorn their clothes.
- Have a toast to all on your sign off.
This year has been…unique. It’s really taught us how special family is and given us the gumption to figure out new ways to do our regular things, like celebrate Thanksgiving. Hopefully, you can take some of these ideas and really enjoy your grandchildren whether they are near or far on this special day.