How to set up a virtual play date for young children 


There’s nothing quite so joyful as watching children playing and interacting, gradually developing the social skills that will set the course of their life into adulthood. 

Life in isolation offers fewer opportunities for social engagement. Thankfully, you can set up virtual playdates for your child, inviting friends and family to join in –using the same technology that has allowed our centres to connect with children at home 

Children are incredibly adept at navigating the online world but they still need your help to set up dates and also ensure privacy and security settings are in place. 

We’ve summarised some of the most popular sites for children’s play dates and some of the games they can share virtual time together. Not only are they able to keep in touch with friends but a successful virtual playdate helps to develop the same social skills that apply in real life – consideration for others, sharing, and empathy.

  • Messenger Kids
    This Facebook app is easy to use and has reasonable protections in place. Up to eight people can be involved in a free video call which is more than a big enough crowd for youngsters without becoming overwhelmed or feeling left out. Find it here.
  • Google Hangouts
    Google Hangouts has been used successfully by a number of our centres for virtual activities and story time which children at home. It’s great for one on ones and group chats for up to 10 people. Find out more about it here. 
  • Caribu
    For a limited time Caribu is offering free access to Caribu, a video-calling app that combines children’s books, activities and games. Heavily promoted as a way to keep children in touch with grandparents, sharing story time and a range of activities, it also brings little friends together virtually. Read more about it here



Being virtually connected doesn’t have to mean being a slave to the screen. These simple games that are played in real life can work just as well over video. 

Show and Tell 

Each child takes a turn to show off a craft activity, drawing, favourite, pet or the results of a baking session with question and answer to follow. 

Simon Says 

Play it just as you would in real life, with each child getting a chance to play Simon. 

I Spy 

This favourite road trip game can be even more fun in a virtual world with lots of different objects to spy in each child’s screen. I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ….. 

Musical wobbles 

A variation on musical chairs and statues. One child is in charge of stopping and starting the music and spotting the wobblers. The last child standing takes over as master of music. 


The perennial parlour game, charades can be played virtually without too much difficulty. Children take it in turn to act out a character, animal or TV show and the others have to guess 



How to celebrate the little and big moments while self-isolating

Despite large gatherings events and special occasions being put on hold due to COVID-19, there are some things that never get cancelled – such as love, joy and laughter. 

It’s still important to celebrate the little and big moments while self-isolating, and we’ve seen some inventive ideas come out of our centres at this time.  

Greenwood Frenchs Forest, for example, used Skype to celebrate the birthday of a four-year-old who was staying home. They brought together children in the centre to call in, with children on each side of the computer having a cake and candles to sing happy birthday.  

If you are keeping your child at home during a special occasion for them, it’s worth making a call to the centre to see if something similar can be arranged.  

For other special occasions, whether they’re big or small, here are some other ideas to make it a fun time without a party crowd. 


Create a party house 

Like many big moments in life, half the fun lies in the preparation. Spend time with your little one transforming your home into a party house, putting up streamers, blowing up balloons and maybe even tackling a DIY garland for some extra pizzazz. Make you own banner to pin to the wall, cutting out the letters to work those fine motor skills.  


Get baking 

The kitchen is one of the best places to combine creative fun and education – think maths and chemistry as you measure out ingredients and cook up a party feast. You couldn’t ask for a better science lab, melting solid butter into a liquid, blending butter and sugar to form a delicious cream, beating runny egg whites into a sweet solid mass of meringue, or the drama that baking soda adds to hokey pokey.  

If baking isn’t your forte, there’s nothing wrong with a packet cake mix and a little imagination to make a memorable impact. 

Find some great inspiration for fun novelty cakes via the Australian Women’s Weekly website right here.


Virtual Party 

Zoom, FaceTime, Google Hangout and Skype can all be used to bring your child’s friends and relatives together virtually. Try to keep numbers to a sensible size so that nobody feels overwhelmed or left out. If close friends and family have sent gifts, save the unwrapping for a moment that can be shared on video. 



In the absence of little friends at the party, you’re it, so it’s best to plan out games ahead of time. The usual fare like pass the parcel, musical chairs and treasure hunt will be perfect if there are other family members to join in. For a smaller crowd, try hide and seek, tag, charades or adopt a theme of your child’s choosing and spend the entire day in character. 


Party entertainers 

Organising a party to please your little one can be hard work but there is salvation if you don’t mind spending a little. There are plenty of party entertainers who have gone online to deliver virtual parties, just have a quick Google to find some Aussie favourites 


Mix it up!  

What better way to cap a memorable birthday than to have a sleepover, with all the family sleeping together in the living room or – if you have a tent and a yard – camping out at home 

The best way to speak to children about COVID-19

COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation, which has – understandably – caused anxiety among families. Young children often pick up on this anxiety and need their own support, both while in centre and at home. 

Our educators are trained to guide and support children through difficult situations. To support this while you’re at home, we’ve included UNICEF’s recommendations on how to speak to children about the virus and best practices, while also protecting and supporting them. 


Ask open questions – and listen carefully 

UNICEF suggests to begin by inviting your child to talk about the issue, in an effort to understand more about how much they already know – and go from there.  

“If they are particularly young and haven’t already heard about the outbreak, you may not need to raise the issue – just take the chance to remind them about good hygiene practices without introducing new fears.” 

If they have heard about the virus, use age-appropriate language to explain more about what’s happening out there. As UNICEF reminds us – “children have a right to truthful information about what’s going on in the world, but adults also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress.” 


Use drawing & stories to open up conversations 

One great option is to use this e-book about COVID-19 to chat to your child about the virus.  

Created by Manuela Molina, a psychology expert focused on children’s emotional intelligence, the book supports and reassures children under the age of seven. It’s available in 20 global languages and printable so that children can draw on it at home.  


Practice good hygiene  

Make it fun! UNICEF suggests encouraging regular hand-washing by singing along to the Wiggles, or following a dance to make it fun. Click here to find the Wiggles hand-washing song. 

You can also demonstrate proper ‘cough etiquette’ to children, I.e. covering coughing or sneezing with their elbow.  


Offer reassurance  

By seeing lots of troubling images on the news, along with intense news headlines, it can increase stress and anxiety for children.  

UNICEF suggests making opportunities for children to play and relax, when possible; along with keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible, especially before children go to sleep. 

“If you are experiencing an outbreak in your area, remind your children that they are not likely to catch the disease, that most people who do have coronavirus don’t get very sick, and that lots of adults are working hard to keep your family safe.”  

It’s important to point out the helpers in particular; the doctors and nurses working at hospitals, the scientists working to develop a vaccine, and the volunteers helping get groceries and essential supplies to those who are unable to access these services.  


More for children 

For a comprehensive breakdown on how to speak to children of every age about COVID-19, at every stage of their understanding about the virus – click here for a handy guide from Early Childhood Australia. 

If you also have older children, they might like to read this guide from Headspace on how to maintain a healthy mindset during this time. 


Look after yourself 

As, of course, children will pick up on your reactions. If you are in a challenging or dangerous situation, please consider contacting one of the resources listed here at White Ribbon, or if you have questions about your health, call one of the state or territory public health agencies below for more information.  

  •     ACT call 02 5124 9213 
  •     NSW call 1300 066 055 
  •     Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) 
  •     SA call 1300 232 272 
  •     VIC call 1300 651 160 
  •     WA visit or call your local public health unit