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Babysitting at the Park

(25 Active Outdoor Games to Play)

Babysitting at the park can be a great way to mix things up. It gives you and the children a chance to get outside for some fresh air and extra physical activity.

What kind of activities can you do while babysitting at the park? The park offers all sorts of fun activities. Children can play sports, climb on gym equipment, do activities that train their hand-eye coordination, and more. It can also be an opportunity to teach them about the environment and various wildlife in your area.

In this article, I'll give you a list of some great outdoor games you can play at the park while babysitting, especially active games that can be played in areas where there's a lot of space.

1. Go Hide and Seek

Hide and seek is a classic that can be lots of fun to play at the park. Preferably you need somewhere with lots of objects to hide behind and not just an open playground.

I would just add a few disclaimers to prevent having children that you're babysitting get lost. Make sure they're old enough to know how to get around the park, and it should be an area they've been to before and are familiar with. You should have a meeting place where everyone will go to if they aren't found within 5 minutes or so. As well, as a rule, like if you call their name, the game is over and they can come out.

Be sure to stay safe while babysitting. Your own safety and the kids you're babysitting are both important! Check out my Babysitting Safety page to learn more.

2. Play Simon Says

Most children would have tried playing Simon Says at school already and they should be familiar with the rules. It's an excellent way for them to do something active while also working out their brains. For younger kids, it can be a great opportunity to learn various parts of their body like where their hands, feet, and head are.

3. Freeze Dance

Bring an mp3 player and some portable speakers and have yourself a dance-off! Have children dance to a song (be sure to pick kid-friendly ones) and have them freeze each time you stop the music. They have to stay frozen until the music starts playing again.

4. Play I Spy

If you're taking a break to sit down and rest between more active games, why not fit in a few rounds of I Spy? Pick out some object that you can see in the park around you, and then give clues to help the children guess what the object is.

5. Blow Some Bubbles

Bubble mix is easy to make at home with liquid dish soap and water, or you can also buy it pre-made instead if you prefer. Children love blowing bubbles and also popping them. So if you're looking after multiple kids, put one in charge of blowing bubbles and the other in charge of chasing them around and popping them. Then they can switch. You can make it a contest and see who can pop the most bubbles on their turn.

6. Play Badminton or Balloon Tennis

Badminton is all the fun of tennis, but without having to worry about balls rolling away when children miss a swing. It's a great way for them to practice their fine motor skills.

You can usually find a cheap badminton set at the dollar store for a few dollars. Alternatively, you can spend some craft time making a balloon tennis set at home before your trip to the park. Just glue a popsicle stick to the back of a paper plate to use as a racket, and blow up a few balloons to use as balls.

7. Play Charades

If you're babysitting multiple children, you can teach them to play charades. Write down the name of a few topics ahead of time, like the names of some of their favorite cartoons and animals. Then place the pieces of paper in a bag and have a child take one out at a time and act it out. If you are watching more than two children, you can have one use a stopwatch or your phone to keep track of the time for each round.

8. Tell Some Stories

Stories are most often told around campfires. When children need a break from physical activities it’s a good time to sit down and have storytime. You can tell stories yourself, or you can have children try to make up stories of their own to tell. They can even get really into it and act out the story.

Want to really brighten a kid's day while you're babysitting? Throw in a few random jokes. Check out my 310 Clean Jokes For Kids and pick a few of your favorites.

9. Draw With Chalk

Just because you're at the park doesn't mean you need to leave your creative activities at home. Some parks will allow you to draw with sidewalk chalk on the pavement.

Children can draw pictures, as well as set up their own chalk games like foursquare:

Or hopscotch:

Just be sure to check in advance and make sure that drawing with chalk is allowed in the parks near you.

10. Host A Scavenger Hunt

Give each child a small pencil and a list of items on a piece of paper that they'll need to find around the park. Then let them run off and see who can find all of the items first, or who can find the most within a set amount of time.

Try to make your scavenger hunt items broad or vague, or common enough that you're sure the children will be able to find an item that matches the description.

Some scavenger hunt item ideas include:

  • A flower
  • Something soft
  • Something hard
  • Something green
  • A big leaf
  • A colorful rock
  • A feather
  • A pinecone or acorn
  • A bug
  • A curved stick

11. Pick Up Some Garbage

Teach children to help keep their neighborhood clean and help the environment by picking up some trash! Give each child a trash picker and a garbage bag, and see who can collect the most garbage!

For some kids, just getting to use a grabber, or the competition of seeing who can pick up the most trash will be incentive enough. For the ones who are a bit less enthusiastic, you can tell they'll get a reward after they pick up a bag of garbage, like that you'll buy ice cream for them.

12. Play Ring Toss

Ring toss is a great game for children to work on their hand-eye coordination with. You don't have to buy a ring toss kit either. You can do a craft session before you head to the park to make one of your own.

Take four or five paper plates and cut out the middle to use as rings. Then take a paper towel roll and make four 1-inch cuts into it, and fold the pieces out to make a base. Glue or tape those flaps to a large piece of cardboard like a cereal box, or something else sturdy. Kids can color the paper plate rings different colors, and then you can head to the park to play.

Since the rings are made of paper, you'll want to do this on a day where there is little or no wind. Otherwise, it will be much more difficult.

13. Go Bowling

Bring some plastic cups and any kind of ball that has a decent amount of weight to it. You can set up the cups and then let kids take turns trying to see how many they can knock down. You can try stacking the cups in all different ways to mix things up a bit. Children of all ages will enjoy this one.

14. Make A Fort

If you're in a park near a walking path or other wooded areas, you can make a fort using some big sticks that you find. Be sure to only use branches and sticks that are on the ground, instead of damaging living trees.

Making a fort out of just sticks can be tough, so see if there's a spare bedsheet or two that the kids can use to make their fort feel a bit more enclosed. See how sturdy they can make their fort.

15. Run An Obstacle Course

Lay out sticks, rocks, and other objects that you can find around the park to make your own obstacle course. Get children to run around and jump over various obstacles that you put in their path.

When you're babysitting outdoors, it's extra important to dress appropriately. Read my article What to Wear When Babysitting (How to be Professional and Practical) for some tips.

16. Play Some Sports

You can't go wrong with the tried and tested sports like baseball, soccer, football, or basketball. See what kinds of sports equipment the family has at home and then choose from those options.

If your park has a basketball court, you probably won't be babysitting enough children to have a full game. You can play games like ‘horse’ or ‘around the world’ where kids try to make shots from different locations around the court.

17. Go For A Bike Ride

If the children are old enough to confidently ride a bicycle, you can take them on a bike ride. Stay off busy roads and try to stick to bicycle-friendly paths without much foot traffic.

For younger children who need training wheels, you can still take them to ride their bikes, but you'll probably want to put their bikes into the car and drive to the park instead. Younger children will need more supervision while riding their bike, and won't be able to just follow behind you like older kids.

18. Have A Water Balloon Fight

Check if your park has access to running water. If the park has public bathrooms, then there's a good chance that there's an outdoor faucet that you can use to fill up water balloons.

You won't want to carry balloons from home to the park with water in them already, because they'll be very heavy. But filling them at the park could be a good option.

Be sure that the children you're babysitting are wearing clothes that they're okay getting wet. And make sure you've got your own change of clothes at home because you'll probably end up getting soaked too.

After your water balloon fight is over, be sure to take time to pick up all the broken balloon pieces from the park before heading home.

Can you claim expenses like water balloons that you buy for babysitting on your tax return? You can find the answer in my article Can You Write Off Babysitting Expenses? (Tax Guide For Babysitters)

19. Jump In Puddles

If you're babysitting on a rainy day, the children might start to have a lot of energy built up if they've been kept inside all day. When the weather clears up a bit, it's a good chance to put on their rubber boots and a rain jacket and head to the park. As long as they're dressed for mud and water, let them jump and splash in puddles to their heart's content.

19. Play Tag or Marco Polo

Kids can play a standard game of tag, freeze tag, or other variations. Or one person can close their eyes to play Marco Polo. Just be sure the ground is clear of trip hazards, and it's best played at a walking pace instead of a running one.

Tag is best played in larger groups of children. If you're only babysitting two or three, maybe they can make friends with some other kids in the park to get a larger group together.

20. Make A Snowman or Snow Angels

If you live somewhere that gets cold enough for snow in the winter, the park might not seem like a great place for babysitting activities.When dressed appropriately you can still take kids out to make snow angels, roll big balls of snow, and make snowmen.

You can also throw snowballs, but it's best if they throw snowballs at a target like a tree instead of people, so nobody gets hurt.

If your local park has a large hill in it, you can also go tobogganing or sledding.

In colder temperatures, just be sure that kids are dressed in all their winter gear and be mindful of the weather and how long they're exposed to the wind. Check in with them periodically to see how they're feeling, or if it's time to go home and warm up. When you get home, make them a nice cup of hot chocolate with some marshmallows.

21. Play Frisbee

As an alternative to ball games, you can bring a frisbee or Aerobie ring to play catch with. Best played on an empty soccer pitch or other large field where you've got lots of space. You don't want to play close to fencelines and risk having it go into someone's backyard.

You can also find other purposes for frisbees. You can play frisbee golf and try to hit specific objects like trees or signposts from certain distances. Or you can play a modified version of ring toss.

22. Play On The Gym Equipment

Most public parks will have at least some equipment designed for children. Some more basic ones might only have a swing set and a slide. Others will have full jungle gyms including monkey bars, a fireman's pole, a rope bridge, and more. A park with an extensive play area can be enough to keep children busy for hours without bringing any extra games or activities with you.

Other parks might have outdoor fitness equipment that can be used by both kids and adults. A great way to burn some of that extra energy and really tire children out!

23. Bounce Balls Against A Wall

If there's any kind of brick wall or structure in the park, you can bounce a wall against it. Any ball like a tennis ball will work, but bouncy balls or rubber balls will make things even more fun and exciting.

See if children can make up new games of their own using just a ball and a wall. For example, one child can throw a ball against a wall and try to catch it. Another child can try to run and touch the wall before the ball gets caught.

24. Paint Rocks

Just because you're outdoors doesn't mean that you can't do some crafts too! Bring some paint and a newspaper with you to the park. Then have children look around the park and try to pick out a rock that they want to paint.

Set up at a picnic table and spread out the newspaper and have kids paint the rocks that they've chosen. They can draw faces on them, design them like animals, or anything else they want. Once they're done, they can do some other activities while the rocks dry. And then they can bring them home afterward, or leave the rocks where they originally found them to brighten someone else's day.

25. Take The Family Dog For A Walk

If the family you're babysitting for has a dog, I'm sure the parents would appreciate if you include it in your day out as well! Get everybody outside for a nice walk to the neighborhood park and back.

Just be sure to bring some doggy bags in case the dog needs to go to the bathroom on your walk. If it's a particularly hot day or you'll be outside for a while, you might want to bring a bowl for some water as well.

Conclusion

It's good to mix things up and get outside sometimes when you're babysitting, especially on days with nice weather. The park is full of lots of great activities that allow children to be physically active. It's also a chance to burn off extra energy, which parents will definitely appreciate when they get home.

Besides the games I've listed, there are plenty of other ones I wasn't able to include like jump rope, hula hooping, bird watching, playing marbles or jacks, and many more. If you still need more active outdoor games to play at the park next time you babysit, think back to your own childhood and the kinds of games that you enjoyed playing.

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