These five, kid-friendly ways to stay in touch virtually with loved ones are especially welcome during COVID-19, but they will be valuable long after the pandemic.

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It’s been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic separated us from family and friends outside of our households. For many families, this means not being able to see kids or grandkids in person, shifting to Zoom and FaceTime until it’s deemed safe to reunite. Video calls are a great way to stay connected, and we’ve compiled a list of ways you can make the most of that virtual time together. A bonus? When the pandemic is over, these ideas work anytime when loved ones are a long way away.

Play Games Together

There are seemingly endless options for hosting an online game night with kids of all ages—many board games, card games and trivia game shows have apps that you can download for free and use with others (search the App Store or Google Play). Choose from virtual games like Scrabble GO, Words with Friends, Boggle, Scattergories, Monopoly, Uno!, Yahtzee with Buddies, Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune. For families with younger kids, try games like Lego Duplo World or My Very Hungry Caterpillar, based on Eric Carle’s book. And for a local (and more tactile) option, check out Interlochen Public Library’s “Yahtzee on Zoom” every Thursday at 11 a.m. Call 231.276.6767 to pick up your dice and scorecards. Check out for more information.

Share a Virtual Dinner

Pick a kid-friendly meal to prepare—think homemade pizza or nachos—and enjoy a family dinner together while video chatting. Try cooking virtually with older kids and preparing more complex meals together over Zoom, or teach little ones how to bake chocolate chip cookies for dessert!

Get Crafty

Crafting together while video chatting is a great way to engage with kids while encouraging creative expression. There are an infinite number of project ideas for all ages to choose from online, or check with your local library to see if they have any programs available. The Elk Rapids District Library, for example, offers a monthly Take and Make Kids Craft that you can pick up in the library lobby. For more information, visit

Read a Book

Reading to the children in your life not only keeps you connected but also helps build vocabulary, language skills and concentration. If you’re looking to freshen up your book selection, check the resources available at your local library—members of Traverse Area District Library have access to numerous eBook downloads, including animated talking books. TADL also has a comprehensive list of books for pre-readers, beginning readers and tweens (

Be Pen Pals

Sending text messages and emails to kids and grandkids is a great start, but why not kick it old school and send uplifting letters to each other? Or take the 21st-century approach and try out the TouchNote app—kids can send custom photo postcards from a phone (available on the App Store and Google Play).

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