Babysitting activities tend to fall into three categories: Things to do that the kids already have at home; things to do that you physically brought with you; and things to do that are the result of creative ideas per you or the children. Then there are specific games for girls and games for boys. Finally, here are two fantastic lists to keep in mind: babysitting books and babysitting movies.
Let's start with activities originating from the children's home.
*Most kids have more games and toys than they know what to do with, and chances are, you can find one or two of these that have been tucked away long enough to become re-interesting to the children. Start here. Look for games high on a shelf that they haven't seen in a while. Classics like Sorry!, Chutes & Ladders, Candyland, Hi-Ho Cheerio and puzzles tend to remain interesting for ages 5 - 12, though little ones may become frustrated if losing. Oh, and don't be surprised when you don't recognize the latest versions! Younger children "pretend" that they're playing, and as long as they're old enough not to eat the pieces, this can be entertaining.
*Cards are an easy one—play War, or Old Maid, which are easy to teach and play and don't require special cards. Stay away from Monopoly, Life, and anything with tons of tiny pieces and complicated instructions, unless you are only sitting older children. Also you'd be surprised how many young children know how to play chess.
*Not buying the board game idea? Try building something. Engage the children with either their own building toys, like Legos, K'Nex, Tinker Toys and similar building materials, or if there aren't any, tell them you want to build a castle or fort. Though these may seem like games for boys, you'll be surprised at how interested girls will be, as well. And all a "fort" entails is the couch cushions and a few blankets. Kids will love building it and playing in it.
*Another good go-to activity is baking. The key is to keep it simple—choose recipes that are child-friendly that they'll enjoy eating! Some wonderful options are smoothies, Rice Krispy Treats (back of the box), no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies, and peanut butter candy. Ants on a log works for a healthier option. Kids will get excited at the idea of baking something for someone else.
These creative ideas are meant to be fun and entertaining, but aren't meant to stress out the babysitter! Always keep track of the time, and don't start a project you'll be scrambling to clean up in time.
*Pretend that you work in a restaurant and appoint the kids as chefs and waiters. They'll delight in creating a menu based on pre-existing items in their pantry and kitchen plus whatever you're baking.
*Propose a tasting party and pull things out of the fridge while they're in the other room. Cut food into a-typical shapes and ask the kids to taste the pieces and guess what they are.
*Try freezing nontraditional liquids to make popsicles. Lots of kids these days have those 9-minute popsicle makers, and without being wasteful, you can try everything from chocolate milk-sicles to ginger-ale-sicles—use your imagination!
*Lots of families recycle. Check out what's in the paper bin. There are multitudes of babysitting activities—art projects, crafts, and make-it-yourself games—that originate from nothing more than paper, glue and markers. See who can decorate and make the best paper airplane. Make a "Fortune Teller" out of a square piece of paper and they can fill it with numbers and names. Again, propose that they make something for someone. This gives children a little more focus, and you can provide some direction, based on what they want to make. Maybe it's as simple as a greeting card for their parents. All of these babysitting activities are typically interesting and fun games for girls and boys.
Activities Compliments of the Babysitter
Remember The Berenstain Bears and the Sitter? That bear woman had a carpetbag of cool babysitting activities for Sister and Brother Bear to do. You probably don't have Twiddly Winks or even know how to play it, so here are some ideas of items that will fit in a large purse or bag that may become helpful for entertaining children.
*Your favorite childhood book. OK, maybe you don't own it. You might want to buy it. If not, peruse the children's book store and look at the stories there. Pick up a book or two that you like, and try to buy gender-neutral. Younger children especially will become interested in "your" favorite book to read to them, especially if they don't already have it.
*A rubberband ball or two. Yes, kids have seen this before. But you can bounce it, throw it, and use it. Use it to make rubberband bracelets, see who can shoot rubberbands the farthest, and tie things together. Babysitting activities dealing with shooting small items may not be encouraged, so use your judgement based on the ages of the children.
*Magnets. They're small and cheap but so interesting! Show kids how you can move things on top of a table with the magnet underneath. Go around the house finding out what's magnetic and what's not--ask the children to guess whether something is magnetic before trying the magnets.
*A "magic" stone. This may just be the cheapest babysitting activity in use! You can either make up a story about it, or simply say it's really special to you. Then you can use it for guessing games, hide-and-seek, or as a prize for the child to keep the rest of the night.
*Ingredients for a simple recipe. Making play-doh, for instance, is fun and easy, and in case the parents don't have everything needed, just bring your own little packet.
*Babysitting movies, or at least one movie, depending on how long you'll be there. The list provided on this site promises to be a win-win for babysitter and children alike.
Whatever babysitting activities you bring with you become infinitely more interesting by the fact that you bring them back home with you. The children will beg for your return in part because of the cool items you brought.