Zoom has been part of my life for more years than I care to count. It's an epic tool and zoom activities has allowed me to connect with thousands of people over the years while raising my kids. Somehow I can still be surprised at how it can be used.
My girl scouts (1st-4th grade) showed me a whole new way to use Zoom the other night. We passed a whole 60 min playing games on the whiteboard. I knew the whiteboard was there but had never really used it. These scouts played epic games of Pictionary and guess the word. I have no doubt that given more time we could have come up with more games in zoom activities.
Why this matters right now
I'm sharing this with you today because I know from experience that family zoom visit calls can be hard and draining on participants and staff. Having a game to play can help immensely. Using tools already in Zoom means there is hardly any prep.
From a storytelling perspective, games can also help families share stories and start conversations. Using the 5 Minute Game Script could be a good way to kick off a convo while playing a game.
While we are still hanging out in isolation and zooming our days away, bringing back the play is a great way to pass the time.
As I've been talking with people over the past few months, the past year, I keep hearing how drained everyone is. And yet they still want to stay connected and enagegd with their loved ones. Even when they can only see each other over Zoom.
Care facilities and staff are now facilitating family zoom calls and helping people stay connected while socially distancing. Trying to keep everyone engaged and not talking over each other can be really hard. It also takes practice. It's also so freaking hard.
So first, let's just acknowledge that it's crappy. It's not any fun. It really sucks. And it's where we are. So where do we go from here? We've acknowledged this issue. What do we do now?
Facilitation Matters in Zoom Activities
Facilitation matters in our zoom activities, group calls, and all the ways we are using video to stay connected. So even if you are getting on with grandma and grandpa, and there's like a couple of aunts and uncles or some cousins, it gets a little crazy.
So instead of having everyone talking all at once, I suggest having a plan. Yeah, it sounds a little crazy. You don't need to have an agenda. But know kind of why you're getting together, maybe have an activity you can do. Maybe you are doing a coloring page together, or you're playing with playdough together, which allows for some lulls in the conversation while everyone's working on something.
Another idea is to have themed conversations or a specific topic you want to cover, or in like dig into together a specific memory, if you want to bring in the storytelling component. But having something common to work on or work through will help facilitate and manage the conversation without having to be a drill instructor about it.
Other things that can work is playing games or utilizing breakout rooms if that's an option for you on Zoom. One-on-one conversations can get drawn out and those quiet moments are sometimes hard. Breakout rooms can help split up larger family groups and allow for multiple short one-on-one convos. Having a family round robin of one on ones could be a cool way to stay connected.
Activities to keep the conversation going
Hear me out. Zoom has this whiteboard you can use to color together or play Pictionary. No joke. You could also have everyone have the same picture to color and see what happens and what people do differently. It's really neat to see all the different ways people complete the same activity. Whether you want to go with crayons or online drawing boards, Zoom activities will never be a dull moment!
Do you know that playdough is a great sensory experience that could enhance motor skills and refine coordination no matter the age? If not, then consider adding this fun stuff to your list. You may try to custom your toolbox or plan ahead a series of instructions to arrive with color combinations to your symmetrical figures.
3. Playing a bingo card
This is one of those things that require planning ahead if you want to play with actual bingo cards. But if you want to work around quicker options, check the free options online and just share your screen as you generate results. No cheating!
4. Doing a crossword together
Zoom activities may bring back a fresh vibe to the classics. Shake up the session by adding crossword puzzles somewhere in your program. Online crossword games, Scrabble options, and words with friends can make it super easy to add in.
5. Playing chess online
It may just be a game of two but others could be involved as you assign timekeepers and scorekeepers as they wait for their turn. A ticking clock of a 10-min game could be a recourse to limit stalling for a chess move. Utilizing breakout rooms for different matches can help keep people engaged as well.
Finding a way to have an added layer of engagement will help with conversation and help stimulate storytelling. It'll also make the time last longer so it'll go by faster, and you'll be able to spend more time together even though you're doing it online. All these hints hope to make conversations enticing without compromising synchrony throughout our zoom activities.
As always, take my suggestions as just that. Options you can try out and see if it works for you. If you aren't sure how to adapt or use a suggestion, feel free to reach out and ask for help.