Kids have boundless energy and short attention spans that can make babysitting a challenge. Whether you're a lifelong babysitter with years of experience and need some new ideas or a first time sitter looking for what to do on the job, having some great babysitting games and activities on hand goes a long way.
Just like teachers pass on their lesson plans to newbies, we're passing on these ideas from seasoned babysitters and camp counselors, so you'll have lots of fun things to do while babysitting that'll keep the kiddos entertained for hours.
Babysitting Games & Activities for Preschool Through Kindergarten Ages
Babysitting small children can be a challenge in of itself. Most of us remember some of the things we enjoyed doing as kids and can reenact them with older ones, but preschoolers takes a little thinking out of the box.
There are several fun games and things to do while babysitting kids in that sweet 3-6 age group, but be careful of what arts and crafts you're helping these children out with because they're lightning fast when they want to put something in their mouth.
Board and Card Games for Younger Kids
Young children love board games, and odds are their parents have a few in the house. If you can find a game they connect to, they'll ask you to play it for hours. We love these babysitting game ideas for smaller children.
- Opt for quick card games like Old Maid, Sevens, Hearts.
- Board games like Trouble, Candyland, and Chutes and Ladders all have interactive components that keep kids in this age group engaged.
- Matching games and Feed the Pig are also popular for this age group.
But, with any competition, be ready to cool some tempers if siblings start to bicker over cheating allegations and being sore winners/losers.
Similar to freeze tag but played as an indoor game, freeze dance requires some fun tunes and kids to freeze when the music stops. You'll want to turn on a bouncy playlist and have kids dance through the song. When you pause the music, they should freeze and maintain that stance until the music starts again. If they move, they lose. Last person standing wins.
Kids at this age are learning their letters and numbers; reinforce this by working on naming animals 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, and see what whacky ways they think animals behave.
Outdoor Babysitting Games and Activities
If it's a nice day, move the games outside.
- Kickball, basketball, soccer, and dodgeball - These are all games you can play with most recreation balls. If they don't have the standard equipment, pivot to using what they've got around the house.
- Original games - Try making up an original ball game like throwing a Nerf football through a basketball hoop. The first to ten wins.
- Frisbee is another great outdoor option. 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. For this babysitting idea, just make sure that you're the only one blowing them up.
- Badminton - You can play balloon badminton with a plastic racket. If it hits the ground on your side, the other team gets points.
- 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.
Babysitting Games & Activities for Elementary Schoolers
Most elementary schoolers today would be content to watch a tablet or play video games. Get them engaged and win a babysitter of the year award through these fun interactive activities. Plus, it gives you the chance to get them to use up some of that latent energy they weren't tapping into.
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 more challenging.
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 at navigating their way back and forth. 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'll have fun working out the different clues and finding the stuff.
Talking games can be great babysitting activities because they don't require any materials. 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.
DIY Floor Scrabble
Helping the kids create their own life-size DIY game can be a fun things to do when babysitting older kids. Fold construction paper into fourths and put common letters on each. Allow kids to pick 7 letters randomly. These are the tiles.
On 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 put together a huge performance, and score each other on creativity, musicality, emotion, and more.
Bowling might not immediately come to mind when you're thinking about what to do while babysitting, but this DIY version might be a hit. Using plastic cups and a large plastic ball, have kids bowl. They can keep score (each cup is a point and they get two rolls to try to knock them all down). This is a great activity that you can play both indoors or outdoors.
Some babysitting ideas require no prep, but if you have time to grab some dress up items in advance, this can be a winner. After akk, there's a reason whacky dress up day is still a thing schools let kids do during spirit week. Why limit them to only one day during the year to dress up like somebody else? Bring over a collection of old clothes, accessories, or costumes you have and let each other go hog wild.
Babysitting Games and Activities Pre-teens Will Like
Pre-teens are at that ripe age where they're testing out what adulthood looks like without really knowing what's involved. In replicating the adults around them, they probably don't want to play babysitting games with you. In fact, most of them would be perfectly happy if you ignored them altogether.
Yet, these kiddos aren't quite grown-up yet, and you can draw them out from their 'too cool for anything' stage with these fun games and activities.
Make funny faces or cross your eyes at your kid 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.
TikTok Dance Challenge
Dancing challenges are at TikTok's heart, and you and your babysitting charges can learn a few unique moves from eachother. Put together a few combinations and create your own TikTok dance to show their parents.
Truth or Dare Games
Pre-teens love a challenge. Try doing some hilarious dares or pulling from them the latest school drama with a couple of knock-out truth questions.
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.
Board Games for Older Kids
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.
Fun things to do while babysitting don't have to be super complicated. 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 having a babysitter that'll play two-person video games, and it can be lots of fun for you too. Make sure you run any games by their parents first to find out which ones are off limits.
Fun Babysitting Activities for Mixed Ages
When you're babysitting groups with age gaps, you might scramble for things to do that keep everybody entertained. But everyone can tap into their inner child when prompted with the right kinds of fun, and these babysitting activities are just what the doctor ordered.
Guess the Crayon's Color
You only need a box of crayons (the bigger, the better) and a good memory to play this fun game:
- Draw a crayon from the box and ask kids to guess the crayon's color. They'll start tossing out answers like "Razzmatazz, Purple Mountain's Majesty, Asparagus, and Sienna," to name a few.
- Pass the box around the table and let everyone get a turn.
- This game works best with larger groups, but you can adapt it for younger kids into "guess the color of my egg" where you think of a basic color and they guess different ones until someone gets it right.
This babysitting activity takes a bit of pre-planning, but will be worthwhile since it wears the kids out and takes up a lot of time.
- Just like the regular Olympics, you set up a few activity stations suited for your kids' age group.
- Think things like, 'jump the river' between two parallel jump ropes, corn hole toss, lawn bowling, hitting a paddle-board so many times in a row, etc. The possibilities are endless.
- You can act as the judge as you set your kids throughout their various events and give them points for how they place.
Just remember to have something to give them at the end of it all. A paper crown you cut out or a $1 medal you picked up at the dollar store will make the whole affair feel that much more real. And they'll be begging for you to come back to babysit them.
A non-newtonian liquid, Oobleck, is the name for a slime like substance that appears in Dr. Seuss' story Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Literally all this science experiment requires is cornstarch and water. If the people you're babysitting for have food coloring on hand, you can add a few drops of it to your mixture.
To make Oobleck, follow these simple instructions:
- Mix a cup of water with 2 cups of cornstarch into a mixing bowl.
- Add a few drops of food coloring if you have some on-hand.
- Thoroughly mix the ingredients together. If it's getting hard to move the spoon through the mixture, it's ready.
Have your kids test the Oobleck's properties by trying to force something through the liquid and see how much resistance it gives. But when they place their hands just barely on the surface, they start to sink. Think of it like safe quicksand.
Build a Secret Society
Put everyone's creativity to the test by building a secret society together. Draw up the different types of clothes your people would wear, the way they'd greet one another, and any rules they have to follow.
Then, you set up a blanket fort using pillows, chairs, and a sheet to host your inaugural secret society meetings. If you babysit these kid(s) frequently, then this can turn into a consistent part of your babysitting routine.
Bring a Strong Babysitting Game
Babysitting can be hard, especially if you didn't grow up with younger siblings and don't have a toolbox of things to pull from. Finding age-appropriate games for all different skill levels can really save you time scrolling through your phone with the kids staring at you in the long run. Whether it's just throwing a frisbee around or playing bowling with cups, kids will laugh and have fun for hours - and you just might have fun, too.