When you’re babysitting, you want to do everything you possibly can to avoid hearing those two dreaded words: “I’m bored!” Rather than plopping the kids down in front of the TV and turning on yet another episode of whatever Nick Jr. or Disney Jr. show they happen to be obsessed with at the moment, be creative! Here are ten ideas for great activities for babysitters and kids to do together.
- Make a fort.
Get permission from the parents before raiding the closets and rearranging any furniture, then break out the blankets and start building! Dining room or kitchen chairs work well as anchors, and you can layer blankets to make your fort even bigger. Once you’ve got a respectable covered space, grab a flashlight and have story time, bring in some stuffed animals for a tea party, or if you’re watching very young kids, grab a pillow and get nap time started.
- Break out the chalk.
It’s amazing how much fun you can have with a three dollar box of chalk on a blacktop driveway. Write your names, teach the kids how to play hopscotch, leave messages for their parents, and draw to your hearts’ content. After the rain washes it all away, you can do it again.
- Don’t color — illustrate.
Take paper and crayons to the next level and work on the kids’ language arts skills at the same time. Read a favorite book or even a fun children’s poem, then take out the art supplies and draw new pictures for the story and a new cover for the book.
- Get cooking.
A simple kitchen project is a fun way to pass the time with kids. It teaches them about process, and everyone gets a snack (or even a meal) when you’re done. Look for simple recipes like rice krispie treats, no-bake cookies, simple cakes that can be stirred together in a single bowl and baked quickly, or even make-your-own pizzas.
- Play cards.
If the kids are older, teach them simple games like Go Fish and Rummy. Or, for younger kids who may not grasp the idea of a card game, use a standard deck to practice counting, colors, and shapes.
- Build with blocks.
Most kids have a set of wooden block or Lego bricks at home. Make simple challenges and contests with them: build a high tower, build with only two colors, make a house that looks like yours, and so on.
- Play with puppets.
If the kids don’t have any puppets, no problem! Grab some of your old socks (make sure they’re clean first!), then let the kids use markers to draw faces on them so you can all put on a silly puppet show.
- Head to the park or playground.
You’ll want to get permission from the kids’ parents before taking them anywhere, but as long as it’s OK, a playground outing or a trip to the park with a soccer ball in tow is a great way to spend an afternoon. The kids will improve their gross motor skills and get their wiggles out. They’ll also get tired, which will make bedtime a lot easier.
- Take a nature walk.
Not just a walk — a nature walk. Head out in the backyard or around the neighborhood looking for bugs, leaves, flowers, and birds. If you can, take pictures with a smart phone for later scientific analysis.
- Try a little role reversal.
Take some time to let the kids pretend that they’re babysitting you! They’ll enjoy the pretend authority they’ll get to wield, and you’ll get to show them what responsibility is like.
With a little ingenuity, babysitting can be a great time for both the caregiver and the children. In addition to making your time together more entertaining, doing fun activities during your babysitting time will help you develop a great relationship with the kids and a stellar reputation among area parents as a creative babysitter who doesn’t just turn on the TV and let the kids veg out.