A Guide to Video Chatting

Staying in contact with family can be only a click away with video chat. Whether your family members are living a few blocks away or on the other side of the world, using video chat allows you to experience face-to-face interaction, to celebrate milestones or just to watch children grow.

Literacy is a crucial component to a child’s development. Here are some simple and easy tips to incorporate the five practices (talking, singing, reading, writing and playing) of early literacy into your video chats.



Talking to children is the best way for them to make sense of the world around them, learn new vocabulary and build a relationship with you when you are not together.


  • Ask them questions that require more than yes or no responses (even if they are just starting to babble).
  • Talk to them about what they are interested in.
  • Use a puppet when talking to children.
  • Tell a story together about a pretend adventure or based on pictures you share.
  • Be expressive with your voice and facial expressions.


SingSinging and rhyming helps children break down words to hear individual sounds in the word. Singing is a great way to introduce new words and ideas.


  • Sing the same song every time you talk - your child will associate that song with you.
  • Turn any favorite tune of yours into a song.
  • Try a call and response song so everyone gets a chance to sing.
  • Share new CDs that you’ve found or songs you’ve heard.
  • Play an instrument!  Try a kazoo, a shaker or a drum.


No matter what your child’s age, reading together or shared reading is very important activities that will help them get ready to read or read more comfortably.


  • Use high contrast books that will show well over video.
  • Ask a lot of questions throughout the book.
  • Let the camera focus by holding the book up and making sure to not move it quickly.
  • Don’t be afraid to be silly and use different voices for the different characters.
  • Make the story interactive find ways to get involved in the story.
  • Try a book with sound effects, just make sure you get the speaker close to the microphone.


Reading and writing go together. It’s important for children to become aware that printed letters stand for spoken words.


  • Point to the text of a book when reading to the child.
  • Read aloud each letter of a word like monster: M-O-N-S-T-E-R.
  • Ask them about what they have drawn.
  • Get them to sign their artwork.
  • Label things in their drawing and ask them to help you write the words.
  • Make up a story to go along with their drawing.


Pretend play helps children think symbolically and develop oral language skills.


  • Keep a basket of props near your computer.
  • Wear hats or funny masks.
  • Use items near you that spark imaginative thinking.
  • Play a game of Peek-a-Boo or I-SPY.
  • Play word games like Hangman or Crosswords.
  • Play trivia type games and take turn answering questions.
  • Hold up toys that are of interest and use them to play while you video chat.

To learn more about early literacy and EPL's free resources, visit epl.ca/earlyliteracy.

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