Children often require structure, especially when their parents are away from home. When babysitters come over for a few hours, some parents may prefer that the children maintain their routine while being entertained. A list of planned activities can help the time pass faster and prevent behavioral issues. Whether you are a neighborhood babysitter, a friend or relative, keep this list of fun activities and games handy, for when you need to keep kids’ boredom at bay.
Group activities such as puzzles require children to use problem-solving skills and work collectively as a team to accomplish a common goal. Choose an age-appropriate puzzle, so that it’s not too easy or too difficult for the child to complete. Take turns putting each piece of the puzzle together.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture publishes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends that children engage in at least one hour of physical activity every day. Head to the backyard or neighborhood playground to let the kids run and play. If you’re babysitting multiple children, prepare a list of fun outdoor games, such as “Red light, Green light.” To play, create physical distance between you and the children. When you say “green light,” the children should run toward you. When you say “red light,” they should freeze in place. Whoever reaches you first, wins. Because the children will expend plenty of energy and work up a healthy appetite for dinner make sure to bring along plenty of water to keep them hydrated.
Turn Snack Time into Group Time
Kids love to help adults with everyday activities, including preparing the afternoon snack or evening meal. Try cutting celery stalks into 3-inch segments and letting kids coat them with peanut butter. Give them a handful of raisins to attach to the peanut butter, explaining with a smile that they’ve just made “ants on a log.” If you need help persuading children to finish eating their vegetables, try rewarding them with homemade cookies! Just be sure to inquire about food allergies before planning a food-related activity.
Arts and Crafts
Children love crafts and also enjoy getting a little messy, so put away the crayons and coloring books, and break out the finger paints or watercolors. Look for paints that are child-approved, non-toxic and washable, so that a little mess is not a big deal to clean up. When possible, choose a craft based on an upcoming holiday or season, such as a “turkey” handprint for autumn. The palm of the child’s hand could be painted brown, to represent the turkey’s body, with each of the child’s fingers painted different colors to represent the feathers. After the hand-art dries, the child has a truly hand-made gift to give to his or her parents, to welcome them back home.
Watch a Movie
After exhausting all of the activities for the evening schedule, and if there’s time left before bedtime, help the kids wind down by playing an age-appropriate movie. Dimmed lights and cozy pajamas may be just enough to help the kids doze off. However, propose your movie selection to the child’s parents ahead of time to get their stamp of approval.
With these fun-filled activities for kids, you’ll surely to be asked back to baby-sit, both by the parents and the child.