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Free Games to Play With Your Grandchildren on FaceTime

Dianna is a writer with a background in education and business. She writes to inspire and encourage others.

If you're a long-distance grandparent, connecting with your grandchildren over video chat is even easier with these fun and free game ideas.

If you're a long-distance grandparent, connecting with your grandchildren over video chat is even easier with these fun and free game ideas.

Connecting Long Distance Through FaceTime

We were inspired to create these games when we upgraded our phones from the dinosaur version we carried for years to the newer iPhone. We hadn't planned on purchasing new phones since our antique mobiles were sufficient, but our grandchildren motivated us by expressing how nice it would be to visit face-to-face via the FaceTime option on the iPhone.

Well, that got us thinking. How wonderful it would be to actually see them up close while speaking! And we discovered that you can walk from room to room—outside, downstairs, or upstairs—while chatting, playing games, and working around the home. It's the next best thing to being physically together!

Games That Are Both Parent- and Grandparent-Approved

Gene Perret is quoted as saying, "Grandparents are there to help the child get into mischief they haven't thought of yet." This is true of my husband and me when we are with our grandchildren, even over the iPhone. It's not always the case, but there have been a few times when having fun got us into trouble. Trust me, our antics and horseplay don't always go well within the confines of a living room—nor do they over the iPhone.

In order to appease parents (yes, we were reprimanded!), we invented some games to play while on FaceTime to keep our conversations at a moderate, civil, and semi-quiet speaking level. The best part: They are free and educational!

  1. The Guessing Game
  2. ABC Discover Me
  3. Noun-Question Matchup
  4. Word Lookup
  5. What Am I? Drawing Game
You can be really creative during FaceTime games with your grandchildren, like in this guessing game I'm playing. Can you guess what this is?

You can be really creative during FaceTime games with your grandchildren, like in this guessing game I'm playing. Can you guess what this is?

1. The Guessing Game

Our first creative iPhone game was a simple guessing game using toys, small household items, tools, and just about anything small that would fit within the phone's frame view. We took turns showing a small piece of the item over the camera and asking if the other person could guess what it was.

Example of How to Play

  • Grandchild: Here it is, grandma (small piece revealed). Can you guess what it is?
  • Grandma: A ribbon?
  • Grandchild: No.
  • Grandma: A piece of licorice?
  • Grandchild: No. (giggling)
  • Grandma: Can you show me a bit more?
  • Grandchild: (more is revealed) Do you know what it is?
  • Grandma: Nope. Show me some more, please.
  • Grandchild: Of course. (more is displayed, followed by giggling)
  • Grandma: I give up. What is it?
  • Grandchild: My pink gel bracelet. (the full item is displayed)
  • Grandma: Oh! I never would have guessed!
  • (laughter and giggling from both grandma and grandchild)

This is a fun game, and it can go on endlessly depending on how many items you can find and how engaged the child is (and if grandma or grandpa can keep up). We have discovered that the fun part is to find items that are unusual, colorful, and with some mystery to the shape.

Some Items We Have Used to Play This Game

  • Scissors
  • Postage stamps
  • Hairbrush
  • Crayon
  • Small screwdriver
  • Button
  • Toy erasers, animals, dolls, and vehicles

I must admit that my grandkids win most of the time on this game. They can come up with some clever guessing items, plus they have all those toys that they use to their advantage! Rest assured, as you learn to play this game with your grandkids, you will come up with some interesting items to display and guess.

Did you guess correctly? After a couple of wrong guesses, the full picture revealed a pink gel bracelet.

Did you guess correctly? After a couple of wrong guesses, the full picture revealed a pink gel bracelet.

2. ABC Discover Me

This game is similar to Highway Alphabet. Set a time limit to find the letters around the home. You must pronounce the letter and show it over the phone when you see it for points. This game can be very competitive and provides "active" fun.

Educational Concepts and Benefits

  • Letter and sound recognition
  • Some physical exercise

3. Noun-Question Matchup

  1. One person writes a noun, such as "cat."
  2. Meanwhile, the other person writes a sentence.
  3. You then share your writing to see if it makes a good sentence.

They usually do not match, and it is loads of fun to read them!

Educational Concepts and Benefits

  • Language
  • Grammar
  • Verbal communication
Your grandkids will need to turn to the dictionary if they don't recognize the vocabulary words in the Word Lookup game.

Your grandkids will need to turn to the dictionary if they don't recognize the vocabulary words in the Word Lookup game.

4. Word Lookup

  1. You say an unusual word (the funnier the meaning, the better!) and ask if your grandchildren know what it means. For example, you might say "malodorous" (which means "stinking").
  2. If they don't know the word and can't guess its meaning, use it in a sentence.
  3. If they're still not able to guess the meaning, then have them look it up using a dictionary.

Educational Concepts and Benefits

  • Language
  • Grammar
  • Reading comprehension

5. What Am I? Drawing Game

In this game, you describe an item to your grandkids, such as a cat, and see if they can draw it based on the imagery in your description. This is a really fun game because you never get it right, and the results are hilarious!

Educational Concepts and Benefits

  • Visualization
  • Reasoning
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving

The Rewards of Grandparenting Long Distance

The single most important thing a grandparent can do is to build a strong relationship with their grandchild. The bond between the two can lead to a satisfying relationship that not only helps both to understand the gap in ages, but also provides a mentoring avenue for the child.

We love talking with our grandkids, but in order to help them open up and feel comfortable sharing their lives, we need to find some common interests. I have discovered that playing games with them aids tremendously in building commonality, and it downplays the formality of a conversation, especially the aspect of being quizzed.

Games Help You Bond and Build Social Skills

Being comfortable speaking with an adult is a learned social skill, and grandparents can help build this skill by using games to make the communication fun. It opens up the relationship to one where the child can easily converse as needed about important events, discuss problems, and talk about the things they are passionate about in life.

Grandparenting long distance via video chat, especially using FaceTime, is a great technological advantage that provides continuity in a child's life. It conveys your love and interest while keeping the bonds that tie strong.

Take the Grandparenting Trivia Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Number of grandparents online.
    • Sixty-five percent
    • Seventy-five percent
  2. Number of grandparents who instant message.
    • Thirty percent
    • Fifty percent
  3. Number of grandparents who share photos online.
    • Eighty-three percent
    • Fifty-six percent
  4. Number of grandparents who are on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, etc.
    • Forty-five percent
    • Thirty-seven percent
  5. Number of grandparents who use search engines to find information.
    • Forty-two percent
    • Seventy percent

Answer Key

  1. Seventy-five percent
  2. Thirty percent
  3. Fifty-six percent
  4. Forty-five percent
  5. Seventy percent

Quiz source: Grandparenting.org.

Questions & Answers

Question: Do you have any suggestions for FaceTime play with a two year old? She has just learned to count to ten but couldn't do anything with any of the figures ie adding and subtracting. Her knowledge of words is fairly limited and it's quite difficult to understand what she's saying if the connection isn't great. Any help much appreciated (Rosie from Wells in Somerset, UK)

Answer: It is so great to connect with your grandchildren using technology. Younger children have shorter attention spans, especially infants and toddlers. My sister has a two year old grandchild and she uses toy puppets to tell a short story. Using visuals such as this will make it fun and keep them engaged.

Comments

Abby Slutsky from LAFAYETTE HL on July 18, 2020:

You sound like a very hands-on grandmom who is tech savvy too.As someone with a teaching background, I loved your ideas.

Khadiga on May 11, 2020:

Thanks to all your great ideas as we all now have the same issues of wanting and needing to connect with our grandkids over the internet. I have 3 grand kids age from 3 to 7 years and any games suitable would be greatly appreciated.

I have played with them using coloring activities where they draw a fruit face using other fruits as eyes, nose etc.. they love it.

Also I played with them the Guessing game although the younger one was unable to join.

Keep safe from Khadiga Egypt

Frances on April 24, 2020:

I have only just found this site, been talking to my grandchildren since lockdown but the 8 year old gets fed up after a while so wanted to make it fun for her. some of the games look great soon have her giggling.

Deb Arnold on April 17, 2020:

HeadBanz is fun

Ronda a k a Gammie on April 09, 2020:

This is wonderful, I do what I call Gammies games at least once or twice a week with my two granddaughters. . I have a lung condition and have not been anywhere for 29 days today and have not had anyone over I love doing this with my granddaughters makes my day and my week !

Mary on April 08, 2020:

This exactly what I was searching for this morning! Thank You so much! I have my first "class" on Facetime today with my grandson during this virus.... He is 6 years old! His Mom has 4 conference calls today and I will try my best to teach and play these games with him while she is working....PA to California

Dianna Mendez (author) on April 05, 2020:

Francisca, please do write out your game here -- I'm sure others would enjoy having another option to play with their children.

Jackie, I posted an answer above to someone's question on playing with young toddlers that may give you some ideas. Enjoy your children!

Jackie on April 02, 2020:

Could you send me or post some 2-year-old games? I've got one that's 3 and one that's 2.5....

Thanks!

Francisca Bonsel on April 02, 2020:

I have another game for 2 - 2.5 years.

Let me know if I can write it down for you,

Geovanna on March 26, 2020:

Great ideas Ill do it with my grandkids today! From Florida to Maryland!!!

Ruth on March 23, 2020:

This is just perfect for time with my granddaughters while helping out their parents trying to manage working from home. Thank you. My first Grammy Class is today...Englewood, Florida to Portland, Oregon !

Barbara Fine on March 19, 2020:

I am not one to write comments online, but this period of coronavirus isolation is a new era.......I see the last comments were 5 years ago.... more ideas like these are needed today!!! I am adding your great ideas to my Facetimes with my far away and isolated grandkids!! Hope all are well and stay well!!!

Dianna Mendez (author) on May 24, 2014:

Ruby, my grandkids and I have fun playing guessing games and they are pre-teen and teen-agers now. It is always their choice on what to play when we call -- sometimes I am surprised at what they can think of doing for fun.

RTalloni, Thanks for sharing on pinterest and for your comment. Hope you are having a wonderful day.

RTalloni on May 14, 2014:

Glad to see your great ideas highlighted again. Am now on Pinterest so in two clicks this will be on my Children's Activities/Books/Games.

Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on May 13, 2014:

Those games sound so fun and easy to do. Just got an iPhone, so excited now to try these features out. My family isn't that far away, yet, it would still be fun to interact with them this way.

Dianna Mendez (author) on November 08, 2012:

ExpectGreatThings, I hope your kids and grandma have hours of fun playing together. We always have a blast doing these fun games. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Enjoy!

Simonini, glad to know you liked the game ideas, they are so fun to play with grandkids. You will probably come up with even more creative ideas, you'll have to share! Enjoy your weekend and thanks for coming by here today. Blessings.

SimoniniKid from Beautiful Glen Ellyn, IL on November 08, 2012:

Can't wait to try these....as a Grandma who loves playing with her Grands! Plus, you've stimulated my own creative juices and teaching instincts to flow. Will be fun to see if I can also come up with even more clever ideas! Thanks for your ideas!

ExpectGreatThings from Illinois on November 08, 2012:

My kids would love playing these games with their grandmas. Thank you for writing this. I'll be passing it on to them!

Dianna Mendez (author) on October 13, 2012:

Honey, you have made my day with your quick wit. I love the fact that you work with your kids to help them enjoy life. I agree that the phones are difficult to navigate at times, but the kids have no problems with this at all Thanks for your added value here. Enjoy those grandkids.

H Lax on October 13, 2012:

Those iphones games seem fun; and, if I wasn't a Gramma myself; I'd pick you to be mine...lol! My grandsons are both autistic. I think that the younger could probably play those games with me. He works his way around my daughter's phone like a champ. The problem is it will probably takes me months to figure it out. I have a crappy Razor but I know how to work it....lol! Thanks for the comments on my hubs, also. I really enjoyed your hubs.

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 30, 2012:

Christy, just used FaceTime today to play games. It's a blessing. Thanks for visiting here today. Enjoy your evening.

Whonu, good to see you here. I appreciate your being part of the discussion here. Have a great evening.

whonunuwho from United States on September 30, 2012:

A really great hub and many fine ideas shared. Thanks so much for your wonderful ideas.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on September 30, 2012:

How cute - and practical too with families now so spread out! I can just see you playing the phone game about the bracelet :) What fun! I am glad you updated your phone so you have more 'face' time with your grandkids.

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 26, 2012:

Movie Master, we waited years before updating our phones, we like to be frugal in our spending. However, the new phone is useful in keeping connected with our grandkids. Thanks for coming by and you take care out there.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on September 26, 2012:

I love the idea of these games, I am bookmarking in the hope I will get a iphone one day!

thank you and voted up!

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 26, 2012:

Drby, I think we enjoyed our grandparents just as much in the past, but now we have the advantage of technology. Thanks for your visit -- always a pleasure to see you.

Vellur, yes, I think it is a great way to keep in touch with grandkids... you just can't miss out on a chance to bond with them. Enjoy your day, friend

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 26, 2012:

Great hub, iphone is a great gadget to have!! Face time and innovative games for bonding and learning. Another gem of a hub with great tips and ideas. Now am sure all grand parents will opt to buy the iphone. Voted up.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on September 25, 2012:

I dunno, Dianna. How did we grandparents ever grow up the right way without Skype and the iPad? How lucky our grandchildren are!

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 25, 2012:

Thank you for all of your wonderful support of the hub:

B. Malin

Lipnanacy

Unknown Spy

Alicia C

RoseMay

You are all so great!

b. Malin on September 25, 2012:

Loved your Hub Teacher...Lots of Wonderful and Useful Information. I'm not sure if I'm going to get an Iphone...But if I do, I've got this Hub Bookmarked! I've used "Skype" to communicate with the Grandkids as well as the Adult kids. Of course the Telephone and e-mails still work when all else fails.

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on September 25, 2012:

For someone like myself who refuses to use a cell phone and dislikes everything about them. For something fun like this, I might consider getting one.

Life Under Construction from Neverland on September 25, 2012:

Dianna, this is super cool!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 24, 2012:

Using FaceTime to communicate with grandchildren is a wonderful idea, Dianna, especially if the games that you describe are played. I don't have an iPhone, but I do have an iPod Touch. It is fun to communicate with people using FaceTime, but you've shown that it can have educational value too! Thank you for the ideas.

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on September 24, 2012:

I don't have an iPhone, didn't think I had the need for one plus I am not really technical minded. But after reading this I can see how useful it would be to interact with my grandchildren who are long distance. So thank you I need to rethink this.

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

Jackie, I can relate. You do appreciate the fun they have on the tech tools, but you wonder what they are saying about you too. Ha, ha, ha. Thanks for visiting. Enjoy your evening.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on September 24, 2012:

My son and his girlfriend are really into this stuff. They play games while in the same house or room and they text instead of talk, which I am sure many times is about me, lol.

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

Ruchira, I am glad to hear how others keep in contact with each other and have so much fun sharing ideas and games. Thanks for your support.

Ruchira from United States on September 24, 2012:

so sweet, Dianna.

My parents are in india so, my kid generally does these types of games over skype. It sure is fun to see the older generation and younger one mingle and laugh like crazy.

beautiful hub with many votes!

sharing it across

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

Teachable, we kept our old phones for so long and finally caved in for the upgrade. It was because we wanted to communicate with our kids in a more personal way. The games are fun and do keep us conversing much longer. I am glad that you found the hub useful and motivated you to upgrade the phone for a good reaons - family. Have fun on Family Game Night.. wish I could join you!

TeachableMoments from California on September 24, 2012:

Teaches, another great hub! I admit, I've never owned an iPhone! My phone dates back at least 10 years. However, by reading hubs like yours and watching family members interacting with loved ones with their phones, I'm starting to think now might be the time to upgrade. My family is very lucky to live so close to each other. My daughter sees both sets of grandparents at least once a week. However, sometimes I feel like the time we do spend together isn't treasured enough. We take for granted how easy it is to get together. Your hub reminded me how important it is to connect with our loved ones. You found creative ways to really connect with your grandchildren and to teach them valuable social skills in a fun way. In some ways your iPhone games are more memorable them my family sitting around the television on a Sunday night. Thank you for this hub and your clever ideas. I'm going to look into purchasing an iPhone for the times when family members are separated. Also, I think I'm going to spice up our next Sunday dinner by suggesting Family Game Night. Voted up!

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

Good day, Alphagirl! Thanks for coming by here. Enjoy your Monday.

Mae Williams from USA on September 24, 2012:

Great hub for grandparents to engage!

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

Tillsontitan, yes other similar types of technology will work with these games... just have fun! Thanks for your visit, comment and votes. Always great to have your on a hub. Be well and strong, friend.

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

Rtalloni, good to see you this morning. Thanks for your visit here and for leaving such a supportive comment. Have a great Monday.

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

Linda, you know what I'm talking about in this hub -- it's so wonderful to have this option to keep in touch with your kids. Love your games suggestions..now, that's fun!

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

Wow, you do have quite a distance to cover in keeping in touch with your granddaughter. I think Skype can be used with these games just as well... enjoy that sweet child. Take care and be strong.

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

Janine, Skype is also a tech tool that works well with these types of games. Anything to keep the conversation interesting and fun. Thanks for your support of the topic, your votes and your sharing. You are a great supporter and I do enjoy your positive contributions. Take care out there.

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

I believe your mom and kids would really love this type of communication. It is lots of fun. I appreciate your votes and visit. Be well and strong today.

Dianna Mendez (author) on September 24, 2012:

Dwachira, playing games is fun and it keeps us laughing - important at our age! Thanks for visiting and your loyal support! Enjoy your Monday.

Mary Craig from New York on September 24, 2012:

You always come up with great ideas and this is yet another one. It is difficult when you are far away from your grandchildren. You can use an iPad for Facetime too...I don't have an iPhone but an iPad is definitely on my list!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

RTalloni on September 24, 2012:

Such fun for those important times! Thanks for sharing your super ideas for using the iPhone to maintain your relationship with grandchildren.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 24, 2012:

Excellent idea for the guessing game! I use FaceTime often with my daughter who lives in Gainesville. We celebrated her birthday via FaceTime and she's joined us in many of Faith's events since she could be there. Aunt Michelle and Faith really enjoy their FT. Now for games, we like the talking cat, bird and toilet. :)

UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on September 24, 2012:

Lots of great tips and suggestions that I can use in the future....I am also in the boat of having my granddaughter leaving many miles away....I live in Virginia and she lives 5,000 miles away in Alaska.....we do Skype but using our smart phones seems like a better way to communicate. Glad to see you have figured out a way to bond with your grandkids....voted up and very useful.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on September 24, 2012:

Dianna, what an awesome thing. I have used FaceTime very sparingly, because my Aunt who goes to Florida over the winter doesn't have an iPhone, but we set up Skype and I am sure these types of games can be used over that as well. Thanks for sharing these games and love your different approach on using FaceTime to stay in contact with your grandkids. Have of course voted, shared and tweeted too!!

CassyLu1981 from Spring Lake, NC on September 24, 2012:

Love this! My mom calls often to talk to the kids, doing it this way would make it more memorable for all of them. Excellent :) Voted up and shared!

Danson Wachira from Nairobi, Kenya on September 24, 2012:

It is amazing how technology can enhance lives and relationships. Playing games and showing interest in kids activities really motivate kids and help them to open up their mind. Your grandkids must be very lucky to have such caring grandmom. Voted up and useful.