Grandparents and Grandchildren Together: Here is a new fun, interactive website for both grandparents and grandchildren to enjoy together by interacting through the new website no matter how far apart you are…whether in the next room or in another state or country. Read this article about how grandparents and grandchildren can interact together with the new website, Grandparent Games

Visiting the grandkids: Interactive Web site lets grandparents stay in touch

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It used to be that all kids had to do to pay Grandma or Grandpa a visit was walk up the street or hop in the station wagon and take a short car ride across town. In today’s mobile society, though, it’s not unusual for extended families to live farther apart than they’d like — sometimes even halfway around the world.

It makes it tough to build a relationship.

If both sides own and are handy with a computer, though, Roger Schank has a solution. On Aug. 1, the longtime educator and author will launch Grandparent Games, an interactive Web site that will allow remote grandparents to stay in touch with even their very youngest grandchildren.

All you need to get started is a fast Internet connection, a Webcam and a microphone or headset on both ends so Grandma can talk with the child about what’s on the screen.

The author of more than 20 books on learning, language, artificial intelligence, reading and storytelling, Dr. Schank came up with the idea for the Web site several years ago when he learned he was about to become a grandfather. He lives in Florida while his daughter lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., so if he was lucky, he’d only get to see his grandson three or four times a year.

“So I figured, why not set something up where we can talk and form a relationship?” he said.

Grandparents, he added, are inherently teachers who enjoy helping their grandchildren learn to count, say their ABCs and read, so making the interaction educational made sense.

To that end, the Web site provides age-appropriate activities that are not only fun for kids but also can help jump-start their education. For instance, older babies can sit in mom’s lap and laugh at moving objects such as jumping monkeys and quacking ducks or learn their letters while watching alphabet animations (the letter “C” morphs into a cat). Older kids can build three-letter words and learn simple counting, addition and subtraction through a variety of reading and math games.

There’s also an “Explore the World” activity that offers tours of a virtual aquarium and zoo. All the while, both Grandpa’s and the child’s faces are visible on the screen.

So packed is the site with activities, said Dr. Schank, who attended the former Carnegie Tech and worked for Carnegie Mellon West’s Silicon Valley campus from 2001-04, that grandparents tend to get bored before the kids do.

The site isn’t for everyone. The target demographic, according to Dr. Schank, are those who were born in the late 1940s or early ’50s, are comfortable using a computer and whose grandchildren are likely also to be computer literate. After the free 30-day trial, membership costs $9.95 a month or $75 a year.

But in Dr. Schank’s mind, that’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to interact, regardless of location, with your grandkids.

“We’re forming a relationship,” he said.

For more information, visit

Article source: Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 23, 2008