For use with kids ages 5 to 10
No matter where in the world one lives, at one time or another kids are out of school for vacation. For working parents, that often means leaving the kids at home with a babysitter. And the sitter is faced with the task of keeping one or more children occupied for several hours.
Some sitters have the luxury of receiving a to-do list for the day that includes activities like going for a swim, playing in the backyard, heading to the library, sight-seeing at a a museum, or spending time with a play group a parent has joined.
But often, babysitters are left to come up with ideas to pass the day without many options. Not everyone has a backyard, or a playground nearby, or a car available to be able to take a drive and break up the day. In these situations, simple scheduling can make a difference in how the day is spent—without relying on television, online movies, or electronic devices.
It’s a basic concept, but one that is easy to overlook. Most kids enjoy planning ahead, especially when they have some say in the activity. The examples below are simple and can be adapted in any way you wish. But be sure to make sure all involved know what the plan is, particularly the parent(s) if certain ingredients or items are going to be needed. Mix it up however you like, and then settle into a routine. If one activity proves unpopular or unworkable, then find something else that works better and make it a regular event.
Each activity can be built upon and adapted as the weeks go by, even while sticking to some set schedules.
Make yummy foods together for breakfast, lunch, or just a snack, smoothie, or frozen treat. (Keep it healthy!) Ask the child to come up with ideas in advance, and let the parent know you would like to have certain foods on hand when possible. Find some kid-friendly recipes here, adjusting for any special food requirements the child may have: easy breakfasts; quick snacks; super smoothies
Time out for a card or board game on Tuesdays! Set a reminder timer if needed to be sure you make it happen. Have a comfortable spot for the child to participate with you, with or without siblings. If there are not fun games available, talk to a parent about swapping games with friends, or buying a few inexpensive ones. In any event, always have a deck of cards on hand to improvise. See a selection of kids’ card games that can be played with a regular deck.
Wonderful works of art on Wednesdays! Whether it is simple coloring or a creative project, plan for Wednesdays be a time to clear a table and feature some time for art. You can find plenty of ideas here. When feasible, involve the child in selecting the project in advance, and be sure to have materials on hand.
“Take 10” on Thursdays. Plan to take 10 minutes during the morning and afternoon to dance, exercise or just wiggle around to catchy music. Get some of that energy out. Here is a YouTube clip for young kids and there are plenty more online. Select music with the child, if you like. For older kids, make a playlist with the types of music you think would work, or ask him/her to give you some ideas.
Find a spot for an indoor “picnic” lunch or snack on Fridays. Spread a cloth on the floor and get the child involved in setting the scene to make it seem picnic-like. Build on the theme by making special place mats and make replacement ones as time goes on. Come up with ideas for finger foods that the youngster can help make, and consider playing word games while you eat.
Keep track of ideas that worked the best and be creative in finding new ways to come up with structured activities if these lose their freshness.