Providing a 3-year-old with hours of entertainment can by a difficult task, but with forethought you can make the day or evening a gleaming success. If you have never babysat the toddler before, find out a little bit about her favorite pastimes so you can plan some activities that will keep her attention and make the day pass smoothly.
Visit the library before heading over to your babysitting job and pick out a few toddler-appropriate stories to read together during quiet time before a nap or before bedtime. Three-year-olds often enjoy stories about animals and inanimate objects coming to life. Instead of a regular story book, you can also look for books filled with nursery rhymes or simple children’s songs. If you babysit a particular child regularly, you can create a story together over a few babysitting sessions. Decide on a theme for the story and then spend a few minutes each time adding to the story. During craft time, work together to draw pictures to illustrate your story.
Five-year-olds are brimming with energy. During daytime babysitting, give the child a way to expend some of that energy with some outdoor playtime. You can create a simple obstacle course from hula hoops, tricycles, blankets and balls, and then race along the obstacle course together. Other outdoor play games include rolling or tossing a ball together, playing hide and seek, or sitting together for a few calm moments to play I Spy.
Inspire a young chef with some simple recipes. You can work together to make crisped rice squares, make cupcakes and let the child help ice and decorate with sprinkles. For a make-ahead activity, prepare a batch of cookies at home and bring icings, sprinkles and other toppings to decorate together. You can even turn lunch into a fun activity by cutting up slices of fruits and vegetables and have the child help arrange food on each plate. Before undergoing any baking activity, obtain parental approval.
Encourage your young charge to explore her creative side with some craft activities. You can bring along a few large sheets of paper and some finger paints and let her create a masterpiece for mom or dad. Other craft activities can include making necklaces with fruit circle cereal, or creating pictures on colored paper with some glue and macaroni noodles or seashells.
For a little diva or fashionista, bring along some beauty accessories to occupy some time. You can give her a manicure and put on a light shade of nail polish, give her a light makeover with a little bit of lipstick, give her a new hairstyle and dress up with fashion jewelry and child costumes. Get parental approval ahead of time.
Play-Doh lets a 3-year-old explore her creativity and work on her fine motor skills. Before beginning the activity, decide on a theme for the craft. For example, you can work together to make jewelry, build blocks or create a zoo full of animals with Play-Doh.
Most toddlers love loud noises and some homemade musical instruments let him customize his noise-makers. Bring along some old containers, rice, tape and wrapping paper or paints. Fill a container with rice, replace the lid and tape it on tightly. Decorate the instruments with wrapping paper, markers or other decorative items and then play together in your own band.