While mom and dad are away, it’s only natural for children to feel a bit guarded, especially if it’s their first time with a babysitter.
One way in which a babysitter can help put the child at ease is by coming prepared with different activities and games. Engaging little ones with fun craft activities, such as making a yarn necklace, or an old-fashioned game of hide-and-seek will help divert children’s attention and make those hours fun. Plus, it’s an excellent way to bond with the children.
Whether you’re looking to involve children in something engaging or help them learn through play, here are 30 babysitting games you can play with children.
Babysitting Games To Play On The Job
It’s challenging to keep children entertained when their parents are out. A few games and activities will help the children get comfortable with you and keep them entertained.
1. Hide and seek
Hide and seek, a classic children’s game, is excellent for both older and younger children to play inside the house.
The rules are simple; you need a seeker, and the others hide. Ideally, four or more children make the game fun, but you can also play with two or more children. The seeker closes their eyes and counts to fifty or any decided number while the others hide. After the countdown is complete, the seeker goes looking for the other players.
Another variation can be one where the person babysitting hides a specific toy, and all the children hunt for it together.
Puzzles are engaging and keep children occupied for several hours while their parents are away. When you are babysitting, you can pull out a stack of games the children already possess and love to play. They will jump at the chance to do so with you. Alternatively, you can bring a few with you. New games and activities might excite children.
Puzzles are engaging, educational, and rewarding. But it’s important to determine the child’s interests, attention span, and skill level when you pick a puzzle.
3. Animal movements and sounds
Children love animals, so a fun, easy game with a zoo theme can bring out their personality and help you break the ice if it’s your first day.
Take a square box, and write the name of an animal on each side. Ask one child at a time to gently toss the box like a dice and enact or make the sound of the animal written on the side that’s facing up. Throw in a dice to mix things up. The number that faces up is how many times the child has to perform that movement or sound.
Such games bring about multiple opportunities for learning while having fun, too. They also help build vocabulary, improve listening and social skills, and encourage them to follow directions.
4. Eye spy
Here’s a game that can be played by almost everyone and just about anywhere.
- One player starts. This player picks an object that everyone can see and says the first letter of the word out loud as a clue.
- For instance, if the player chooses “television,” they should say, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with T.’
- Whoever guesses first gets to choose the next object.
- Another way to play the game is not to involve letters. For instance, the player can say, ‘‘I spy with my little eye something that is red,” or “I spy with my little eye something that I can eat.” This way, you can easily tweak the game for younger or older children.
This interactive game helps children open up, develop social skills, cooperate with others, and build vocabulary.
5. Lip-sync competition
Ever spotted your child standing in front of the television and singing their favorite tune or making use of different household items as a mic?
If yes, the perfect game for a babysitter and children is a lip-sync competition. Set up karaoke on the television with kid-approved songs and let them sing away. To add to the fun, you can even bring out pots and pans or use a broom as an air guitar.
If you’re babysitting many children at once, you could organize an interactive game, such as charades.
To play the game of charades, divide the children into groups of two members each, and choose a couple of kid-friendly topics.
- One player acts out, without saying a word, the name of a movie, animal names, well-known actions, such as brushing teeth, the name of a famous person, the title of a book, or the title of a song.
- If the other teammate guesses correctly, the team scores a point. The team that gets the most points wins.
- Alternatively, you can play as singles. Each player enacts, and the first person to guess the word or phrase scores a point.
It’s an excellent game because it’s almost clutter-free, there’s no running around, no mess, and no one gets hurt. Plus, it works as both an outdoor and indoor game. The game can help stir children’s imagination and facilitate brain development.
This is a fun activity wherein everyone draws a picture on a piece of paper. Then you go ahead and swap your drawings with the person to your right. This person tells a story based on the drawing they have in their hand.
Not only is it an excellent game to help you bond, but it also helps children improve their interpretation and visualization skills and stimulates their imagination.
8. Freeze dance
Ready to jiggle and wiggle? Freeze dance is a wonderful idea to keep children in a good mood.
- Play age-appropriate music and let everyone let loose and dance.
- Once the music stops, you have to freeze.
- Everyone has to freeze in the exact stance that you are in until the music starts again.
- If they move, they lose. Play the music for about 30 to 60 seconds between stops, so little dancers get into the groove.
Dancing is an excellent way to improve coordination, build muscle, and develop listening skills.
9. Fun with chalk
Everyone loves chalk. It’s a lot of fun to write messages and draw all over the driveway. It’s a great way to go outdoors and enjoy the sun, as well as let a child’s creative skills shine. From fun learning activities to doodling, chalk art possibilities are endless.
Older kids can try twister, foursquare, or hopscotch, while younger ones can indulge in drawing and coloring. For an educational twist, get them to write letters and numbers.
10. Balloon tennis
When you can’t head outdoors, a fun indoor game that you could play to engage children and improve their hand-eye coordination is balloon tennis. Essentially, it’s tennis, but with a balloon instead of a ball.
The rules are pretty straightforward and depend on the number of children and the age of the players.
- To start with, you need rackets.
- You can either stick a popsicle to the back of a paper plate or use fly swatters.
- Next, to divide the room into two, you can keep two chairs a few feet apart and tie a rope between them. Ensure it is low enough so the children can hit the balloon over.
- Each child stands on either side of the court. One player starts by tossing the balloon to the other side, and the other players hit back.
- Let them continue as long as they’re enjoying themselves.
11. Paper plate ring toss
Bring home some carnival fun with the homemade version of this jolly game, paper plate ring toss.
You need paper plates, scissors, glue, paint, and paper towel rolls to play this game.
- Cut out the centers of paper plates to create a ring.
- You can have the children paint them for some added fun. Set them to dry.
- Meanwhile, take the paper towel tube and glue it to any sturdy base.
- Once the tube dries, voila, you’re ready! Get the children to toss the plate onto the tube.
This is a brilliant activity to help relieve boredom, build hand-eye coordination, develop gross motor skills, and improve spatial perception.
12. Pop the bubble
Bubbles never fail to fascinate children. Go outdoors with the children, blow bubbles into the air, and tell them to pop as many bubbles as they possibly can. All the children can pop the bubbles together or take turns.
Bubble games help develop visual skills, improve gross motor skills, and boost eye-hand coordination.
13. Bowling with plastic cups
Who said you need to leave the house to go bowling? You can set up your own mini-bowling alley at home with plastic cups or bottles as bowling pins and a regular-sized ball or tennis ball to knock the pins down. You can also go with the traditional triangle setup, stack the cups in different ways, or create a stacked pyramid.
Note: Children will nag you to play this over and over again. Be prepared.
14. Drawing game
In this game, you have to use 10–15 cards that contain instructions on how to draw pictures of specific things. You can ask them to draw a lion or draw an apple. For older children, you can set a timer to make the game more interesting.
15. 100 cup challenge
One of the things to do while babysitting, if you’re looking to make the children active, is to grab a stash of paper party cups.
- The challenge is to stack cups into the shape of a pyramid or a structure of their own creation.
- It’s the perfect way to awaken their engineering minds, and the challenge also helps improve their fine motor skills.
- If 100 cups seem a bit much, you can work around any number. If you’re babysitting just one child, it can be a competition between the two of you.
16. Paper Tetris
One of the most popular video games from the 1980s, you can now play a screen-free version of Tetris.
- You can download and print a Tetris-challenge template online along with the different shaped blocks.
- You and the children can cut out the blocks and jumble them up.
- From the jumbled pile, pick one block and place it on the button of the template.
- Remember, all pieces need to go from the bottom to top as if it’s falling from the top.
- Similarly, keep picking different pieces and place them on the template.
There will be a point where you will not be able to place a piece on the template. At this point, the game is over. The number of empty squares on the board is your score. The goal is to have the lowest score.
17. Build a fort
When your craft supplies run low, or you have no time to pick up things you need for games, a fort can come to your rescue. Gather the children, peek into the linen closet, grab a few sheets, and use them to build a fort. Fort building is a great way to improve team-building skills and pushes children to be creative. You can even encourage them to use pillows and other nonbreakable items. You can even go outdoors and create a cozy fort between trees.
18. Scavenger hunt
Whether you’re stuck indoors or spending the afternoon outdoors, steering children towards a game like a scavenger hunt can be an excellent idea.
Start by creating a clue to find an item or location, then have another clue waiting at that spot. That clue leads to the next spot, and so on. Keep a treat or toy for the winner at the final destination.
Scavenger hunts help children complete tasks and learn to work in a group setting, which will help them later on in life.
19. Tape shape game
Tape, owing to its stickiness, flexibility, and strength, has multiple uses around the house. Who knew just a few simple lines of tape can lead to a lot of fun, games, and activities?
- On a flat surface, use tape to create shapes, such as a triangle, rectangle, square, and more. You can also draw shapes on paper and use tape to stick them on the floor or carpet.
- Remember, the shapes need to be big enough for the kids to jump in, and there needs to be enough space between each shape to avoid any collisions.
- There are many variations to this game. You can have the child pull a shape card and run to that shape, walk around the cards, or hold up a card and let the child run to the matching shape.
All in all, it’s an exciting game that children can enjoy.
20. Obstacle course
On days when you cannot take children to the park to play in the jungle gym, create an obstacle course on the lawn! Obstacle courses provide endless hours of fun, help kids stay active, and burn off excess energy.
You can build different stations where each one contains a different challenge, movement, or activity that the child must complete to move ahead. You can even make use of stuff that’s lying around the house, such as jump ropes, kitchen tongs, blankets, and paper towel rolls.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Jump in and out of a hula hoop three times
- Do a ring toss
- Walk on a balance board
- Crawl under a row of chairs
- Somersault from one point to another
You can create simple courses for younger children and include a few zig-zags and more complex obstacles for older children.
21. Sack race
The sack race is a classic game that has been around forever. It’s one of the perfect games to play while babysitting. It’s pretty simple and so much fun. All the children need to do is get into a sack and hop around a racetrack in the hallway or on the lawn and toward the finish line. Whoever gets to the end first wins! You can keep an eye on the stop clock and make sure the children don’t get hurt.
22. Name that animal
Young children love to pretend play. In this game, each player takes turns to pretend to be an animal they think of, and the others have to name that animal. The child can slither like a snake, hop like a bunny, or crawl like a spider. You can play this game indoors or outdoors, but make sure there’s enough room for the child to move around without injuring themselves.
This game encourages children to think and use their imagination. It’s also a good form of exercise!
23. Pin the tail on the donkey
A crowd-pleaser that’s been around for ages, pin the tail on the donkey is a fun game that requires a blindfold and an image of a donkey on a large paper. Make sure you cut out “donkey tails.” Mount the image of the donkey at an appropriate height on a vertical surface.
Give each player a donkey tail with adhesive. Then, blindfold a player and spin them around five to ten times. It’s not necessary to spin young children. Next, the player has to walk over to the donkey and pin the tail on the donkey by attempting to stick the tail in the right spot. The child who places the tail closest to the right spot wins.
24. Pass the balloon
Pass the balloon is a game of agility and teamwork that requires a few inflated balloons or any round object.
- Create two teams, and ask them to stand in a line opposite one another.
- The first person in each team starts with a balloon between their chest and chin.
- They have to pass the balloon to the person next to them without using their hands, and that person should take the balloon only with their chest and chin.
- Continue until the balloon reaches the last person. If the balloon falls or bursts, the team has to start from the beginning.
25. Simon Says
Simon Says is an exciting game that never seems to get old! As the babysitter, you will be Simon.
- Get the children to gather around in a circle or line in front of you.
- As Simon, you have to begin calling out actions. You have to start with the phrase, “Simon says.” For instance, “Simon says, clap your hands.”
- The children have to follow this action.
- When you say a statement without the phrase “Simon says,” the children mustn’t complete the action. Any child who does the action is out of the game.
- As Simon, you can trick them into doing actions without uttering the phrase “Simon Says.” The last player left in the game wins and becomes the next Simon.
26. Hot potato
This activity will get everyone giggling instantly. Ask the children to sit in a circle on the floor. Give one person a softball or a potato, turn on some music, and ask them to pass the item around in a circle as fast as they can. As soon as the music stops, the person holding the item leaves the circle. This continues until only one player is left.
27. Touch-and-feel box
For this fun-filled game, you need a corrugated box with a lid. Cut a hole in the box – it should be large enough for a hand to fit in. You can even decorate the box with paint, stickers, etc.
- To start the game, you need to put an item inside the box and have one of the children put their hand inside and guess what is in it.
- They can ask questions about the item, and you can give them clues.
- Use simple objects, such as a bar of soap, or tricky objects, such as spaghetti!
As the game progresses, it gets super-duper fun!
28. Tape maze
Here’s another fun game with tape. Firstly, you need to have lots of floor space in a room. Use the tape to design a maze. For the younger kids, the maze can be simple, while for the older ones, you can add dead ends, zig-zags, and obstacles to make it challenging.
You can ask the kids to kick or dribble a ball through the maze without crossing any lines. Another interesting variation is helping children recognize the number by marking numbers along the route of the maze, which the child has to follow in the correct order from start to finish.
29. Balance beam
You can set this game up quite easily. Again, you need tape to create straight lines or zig-zags. Challenge your child to walk on the line all the way to the end. Zig-zags and spirals are always fun! You can spice things up by getting the children to walk backward, walk with their eyes closed, walk without footwear, jump the line, or walk heel-to-toe.
30. Floor is lava
A classic indoor game perfect for all age groups, it’s also one of the fun things to do while babysitting. The game can encourage children to use their imagination while having a good time. Anyone can play this game anywhere!
- When someone shouts out, “floor is lava,” everyone has five seconds to get both feet off the ground in any way possible.
- After five seconds, if anyone is still on the floor, they lose. If everyone is off the ground, you resume the game.
- For younger kids, you can keep pillows on the floor for them to jump on.
- Another version that fosters learning is using sheets with letters and numbers and placing them at random spots on the floor.
- Instead of using pillows or obstacles to avoid lava, call out a number or letter, and challenge your little one to find it.
The best distraction for children when they’re with a babysitter is a good game or activity. Forget Ludo or Snakes and Ladders; some of the activities and games listed here are creative, challenging, entertaining, and educational.