Have you landed your first babysitting gig but don't have any babysitting games to fall back on? Don't just plant them in front of the TV or a tablet. No matter the age group, there are lots of different games that can keep your wards entertained for hours.
Preschoolers and Kindergarten 3-6
Babysitting small children that are in school is a little easier, but you don't want to be known as the babysitter that just sits and watches television. Babysitting is an interactive job and many parents expect you to spend time with the kids. There are several fun games you can play with this age group, but be careful of what children in this age group put in their mouths.
Board and Card Games
Young children love board games, and odds are their parents have a few in the house. Opt for quick games like card games (Old Maid, Sevens, Hearts), Trouble, Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. Matching games and Feed the Pig are also popular for this age group. You can also make up card games like slap the ace or find the king. Be prepared to mediate any disputes that may arise while playing.
Similar to freeze tag but an indoor game, freeze dance requires some fun tunes and kids to freeze when the music stops. You'll want to turn on the music and have kids dance. When the music stops, they should freeze and maintain that stance until the music starts again. If they move, they lose.
Kids at this age are learning their letters and numbers. You can help to reinforce this by working on naming animals that are in the alphabet. Start at A and move all the way to Z, helping them out as you go if they get stuck. For example, X can be a hard one. You can also make the noises to get a chuckle.
Name That Animal
Young children love to pretend. Play a fun game of charades where you pretend to be an animal and they guess what animal you are. Then swap roles.
Playing make-believe games with them can take all different forms. They may choose to play a game where they are trapped by fairies and you have five minutes to find them. They may also play a pretend war game. Find out what they like and use that a guide for make-believe games. Be sure to dress the part. For example, you might wear fairy wings to be a fairy princess or you might wear a combat helmet. Getting into it will make it more fun for them.
If it is a nice day, move the games outside.
- If they have a kickball, you can play simple kickball by kicking the ball back and forth.
- You might also play baseball with a plastic ball and bat.
- Basketball is another option if they have a little hoop.
- Try making up an original ball game like throwing a Nerf football through a basketball hoop. The first to ten wins.
Another great outdoor option is Frisbee. If you don't have a Frisbee, try a paper plate. Lay out three hula hoops and toss the frisbee into the hoops for points.
Balloons are a cheap and easy way to keep kids entertained. But be careful that they don't put balloons in their mouths.
- You can play balloon badminton with a plastic racket. If it hits the ground on your side, the other team gets points.
- Another option is balloon volleyball. No net required, just hit the balloon back and forth and make sure it doesn't touch the ground. The other side gets points if it hits the ground on your side.
Elementary Schoolers 7-9
Thankfully, this age group still likes you. While they would be content to watch a tablet or play video games, you can get them engaged and stave off boredom through fun interactive activities. Plus, they are full of energy so use it.
Balance Beam Game
A roll of painter's tape is a great addition to your babysitting arsenal. Create a balance beam that kids need to try to walk on. Assign points for making it across the "beam". Add actions they must do while balancing to make it harder.
Don't have the board game, make your own with some construction paper and painter's tape. Each person gets to take turns calling out a body part and color.
Create an indoor or outdoor hopscotch board and see who can do the best. You can use chalk for outdoor games or painter's tape to create the board inside.
Clue Hide and Seek
Hide toys or random items in various places and give the kids riddles on how to find them. They will have fun working out the different clues and finding the stuff.
You start a story, then let each kid add a few sentences making it goofier. Not only will they be laughing but time will fly by.
Fold construction paper into fourths and put common letters on each. Allow kids to pick 7 letters randomly. These are the tiles. In a large area of the floor, put down a word. Kids will then use their tiles to build off your word, like scrabble. They can also help you to make the tiles.
Have kids find choreography for a song on YouTube. After learning it together, you can perform and score each other.
Using plastic cups and a large plastic ball, have kids bowl. They can keep score (each cup is a point and they get 2 rolls to try to knock them all down). This is fun indoors or outside on a nice day.
Older kids really don't want to play babysitting games with you; in fact, often they'd be perfectly happy if you would vanish. Unfortunately for them, you were hired by their parents to make sure that no harm comes to them in their absence. How do you entertain older kids who hate the idea of a babysitter?
Make funny faces or cross your eyes at your ward and get them to laugh. The one that holds out the longest wins.
Start with A and alternate until you run out of words that begin with A. The person that can't think of another A word loses. Do this all the way to Z. The bigger the word the better.
Start with one dance move. The kids need to mimic the dance move. You keep building off that dance move until they forget the moves. Thriller is always a fun one to try.
Pre-teens love a challenge. Try doing some hilarious dares.
Make up ridiculous tongue twisters and have the kids try them. The first one to fail to say the sentence loses.
Don't forget outdoor activities with this age group too. They love to play sports, skateboard and even take walks when they have someone to talk to. However, always clear any outdoor activities with the child's parents beforehand.
Typically at this age, you might be able to entice the kids with a game of chess or checkers. For an added challenge, modify an existing board game. For example, have kids try to think about a few ways they could modify Monopoly. Include their new rules and play the game.
If the parents have given their okay, you can also volunteer to play video games with them. Kids that don't have siblings often enjoy a babysitter that will play video games, and it can be lots of fun for you too. Make sure that the games they want to play aren't rated M for mature; run any games by their parents first to find out what is off limits.
Tips for Babysitting
Here are a few helpful tips to make your babysitting experience easy on you, and the parents you are working for:
- Always ask the parents before they leave what toys are okay for the children to play with, especially for babies and toddlers. It is your responsibility to make sure their children don't choke on toys or other items that may belong to older children in the home.
- Check to see if the children are allowed to go outside or not. Not all neighborhoods are safe, and you need to follow the parent's wishes.
- Choose games for the children to play that are age appropriate. That means making sure that the games are easy enough to play for younger children and challenging enough for the older kids.
- Double check with parents to see which video games are okay for their kids to play. Many parents play video games too, but they don't allow their children to play ones that are rated M for mature.
- Carry a babysitting game kit. A babysitting kit has games, toys, books and coloring books that are age appropriate for the kids you are babysitting. These kits can be lifesavers when the going gets rough. Find a nice bag that can be zippered shut and kept out of sight, just in case the kids get bored.
A Strong Babysitting Game
Babysitting can be hard, especially if you don't have the right toolset. Finding age appropriate games for all different skill levels can really save you in the long run. Whether it is just throwing a frisbee around or playing bowling with cups, kids will laugh and have fun for hours making for easy money.