A crucial tool in developing regenerative culture is enabling clear and collective communication between people. A high level of innovation is coming out of the COVID-19 crisis, as we quickly transfer to a collective working from home.

It’s not just workplaces that have had to switch, but all kinds of community groups. I help lead a cub scout pack (26 cubs, 8-11 year olds, boys:girls – 4:1). After an action-packed summer of hands-on camping activities, the shift to weekly Zoom calls was a tricky one.

In the last three weeks we’ve managed to develop a flow that I think will be helpful to anyone trying to engage with many children online at once. You can still play games! See a list of games below, and tips for making video call work. Any guidance we can share on this topic is helpful, because as we innovate we need to remember to include children in everything we do, including developing regenerative cultures.

Tips for working with children on video calls

  1. Where possible, people should be using a laptop or device that allows for a panel view.
  2. Log in 15 minutes early. It is good to give freedom to say hello to each other before the official meeting starts.
  3. “Mute all” will become your favourite tool. 20 kids talking at once will hurt your eardrums. Click the option that stops people unmuting themselves. Be aware, this master button mutes everybody, and you need to unmute the leaders again before proceeding with talking.
  4. The use of “thumbs up” “thumbs down” is very helpful for a quick collective response without unmuting everyone. Ask lots of “yes” or “no” questions.
  5. Have at least two people guiding the call.
  6. Structure your call with specific sections (eg: opening, introductions, game, personal badge reports, game, project for homework, game, close, free-time).
  7. Give everyone a chance to speak and talk about their week.
  8. Play games in between talking sections (see list below).
  9. Keep things short and interesting.
  10. Prep 4 people to prepare something extra to talk about (beyond their introduction), rotating this every week so people get more opportunities to be involved in a meaningful way (such as progress on personal badges).
  11. Have hands on activities they can do online together.
  12. Allow time at the end to let them be silly together.

Games to Play on Zoom

It’s amazing how the human brain has the capacity to innovate and adapt quickly. Here are 15 classic games that work in a Zoom situation with children:

Draw together

  • Say an object, and everyone draws it at once. For added fun, draw it with the paper on your head (see feature picture).
  • Do a crazy squiggle on your page -> now make a picture out of it

Pictionary: someone draws a picture and everyone guesses (send ideas privately through chat).

Kim’s memory game: A tray of 30 small objects is presented to the call. Participants look at it for 2 minutes. Then take the tray and participants write or draw as many objects they can remember.

Hangman: One person choses a word, shows the number of letters and then the kids guess what letters are in it. hands up for saying letters. Draw the hangman in a program like Paint in real time and screen share.

Trivia: Create a quiz either on paper or using https://triviamaker.com/ – e.g. about Scouting and Baden Powell.

Power of the group: Present an object (cork, paper clip, fork, etc) and get participants to write/draw as many imagined uses out of it as they can in 5 minutes (e.g. cork could be a stamp, doorstop, fire starter). Go through everyone’s at the end and see how many different ideas have been invented. Remind them that with collective thinking more ideas are revealed than if you just do it by yourself.

Fictionary: Find an obscure word in the dictionary and everyone writes down a definition of what they think it means. Definitions are read out and people vote as to which is the most realistic.

Time Capsule: Discuss what participants want to remember (good and bad) about this time of lockdown. Record them in a time capsule to open together later.

Simon Says: “Simon Says point to your (or show us your)”: head, eye, ear, elbow, right hand, armpit, toes etc.

Charades: Message via Zoom privately what they have to act out

Magic Play: Prepare 3 cups by labelling them 1, 2, 3. Hide a coin under one of the cups and shuffle them, get the kids to guess which one by holding up 1 2 or 3 fingers.

Treasure Hunt: One person shows the call an object. Then they turn off their screen and hide the object (still within sight) somewhere in the screen shot. Turn the screen on again and people have to find it. Thumbs up when they have found it.

Scavenger Hunt: Go and find something of:  *colour, *beginning with letter *cub scarf.

Scattergories: Have a list of things (link), choose a letter and get the cubs to write down answers they come up with. Points are only scored if answers are unique to the group.

Wink Murder: Message in private to the person who will be the murderer. That person winks intermittently at their camera and people fake die until everyone is dead.

This is just the beginning of a comprehensive list I’m sure. If anyone has games to add, please email me at hannah@bloomnetwork.org and we will add them to the list.

A big thanks to the leaders of Kamo Brownies who has been sharing their experiences of zoom calls with me. Together we are creating a wonderful world for children to continue their clubs together from their own homes.