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Creative Babysitting Games for Older Children
If there’s a big backyard, or even better, a park nearby, there is an opportunity to create a game loosely based on CBS’ hit show Survivor. You’ll want a few older children, so perhaps some friends could be invited, depending on what the parents want. I have done this with three children ages twelve, nine, and seven before, and it worked wonderfully. Here are some ideas to bring together a game reminiscent of this exciting television program:
1) Have them pack up a small bag. You can tell them they only get to bring three items of their choice. Walk with them to the park.
2) Make them set up camp. Either bring materials to create a shelter or have them create a shelter out of materials they find lying around (just don’t take or destroy park property!)
3) Obstacle course challenges. The Survivor show makes its contestants compete in wild obstacle courses like this one or this one. While your little courses may not be so outlandish, consider using playgrounds to invent routines that the kids have to replicate within a particular time frame. Even better, the kids love to create obstacle courses themselves.
5) Eating challenges. Poor Survivor contestants are forced to eat the grossest things. Don’t make your charges gag, but blindfolding them and making them guess what they’re eating can be an interesting little game.
6) Mental challenges. Survivor is known for testing its contestants with all kinds of puzzles and mind games. You can have the kids answer questions about one another (something comparable to the Newlywed Game) or make or bring puzzles.
7) Auction. Here is a video showing one of the many Survivor auctions. You can bring the kids’ favorite treats or toys to auction off, as well as some silly items if you’re going to hide some of your auction items. Create play money using paper or dig up some Monopoly money.
8) And the Winner is…? If you think the kids can handle it, you could choose one winner based on whoever wins the most challenges. You can reward them all equally or reward the one winner with something simple like choosing the movie or dessert for the evening. More often, I find it’s better not to create that kind of competition between the children, but banding them together makes for a fun evening. You can say that as long as they all complete all the challenges, or score a certain number on all of the challenges, they all win a prize. This gives them the opportunity to get along and cheer each other on.
This one is more easily explained but takes some work to execute. The good news is kids love it. What you’ll have to do is create lots of clues and hide them all around the house. This is easier if you’re more familiar with the house, but all houses have similar hiding places so you could come up with clues either way. You could be direct with the clues, as follows: “The next clue is inside the refrigerator,” OR, to make it more interesting for older children, use riddles and clues. For example: “Look in the coldest place in the house” or “Check out the place you go when your belly is yelling at you.” Kids love reading the clues out loud, puzzling them out, and sprinting to the next hiding spot. Make sure to make lots of clues, because if you don’t, this game will be over really quickly.
Treasure ideas: Homemade tickets to an at-home movie night, freshly-baked cookies, a little bit of their favorite candy, or even simple prizes or toys from the dollar store.
Playing restaurant is always fun. Kids like having menus to order off of instead of having an ordinary dinner. They also enjoy taking on different roles—if there are enough children and they are appropriately aged, there can be a waiter/waitress, a customer, and/or a chef besides yourself. They can get dressed up and into their roles. Create menus and play money for the customers.
To amp the restaurant menu up, choose a theme. For example, if it is near Halloween, label spaghetti and meatballs “bat brain and ostrich eggs.” Have the kids guess what they might be ordering.
The Amazing Race
Here’s another game idea based on a reality TV show! When executed on this level, The Amazing Race babysitting game is similar to treasure hunt. Even better, it is a mix between treasure hunt and Survivor. Here are some ideas to create a game like this one:
1) Create lots of clues. Some clues should just take the kids to a new spot, while others can be challenge clues. Some of the ones I have used in the past include “All challenge” (everyone has to participate), “Individual challenge” (before reading the card, one competitor must volunteer to complete the challenge—each competitor must complete one at some point during the game), “Special challenge” (a punishment given to whoever loses the all or group challenge), and “Name challenge” (each competitor is given a challenge with his/her name on it, but they can switch them up BEFORE opening them.)
2) This game is better if you have plenty of space. Talk to their parents about feasible options. I played with three children in a neighborhood that is a giant circle with a clubhouse in the middle. The clubhouse has a park and swimming pool. This gave me the ability to introduce lots of exciting challenges and get the kids out of the house.
3) I use challenges and games similar to the ones above mentioned for Survivor: eating challenges, obstacle courses, puzzles and riddles, and outdoor games. If the kids are good sports, you can also give them fun dares like jumping in a cold swimming pool.
4) And the Winner is… Once you come to the end of this challenge-infused treasure hunt, there should be a prize or reward of some kind. Read my section entitled “8) And the Winner is…” under my Survivor game or the section “Treasure ideas:” mentioned in the description of the treasure hunt for ideas!