Babysitting 5 year olds.. what to do?
January 20, 2012 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Tips for babysitting two 5 year old boys?

I just got offered a job to baby sit twin 5 year old boys for 5 hours on Mondays. However, I've never really babysat before. I'm pretty good with kids, however, I'm not sure exactly what to do with them for 5 hours. I will be spending the first time at home with the mom, so I know I can ask questions and stuff then. But what are your tips to keep kids busy during the time beside the usual arts/crafts, active games, playing outside, and reading?
posted by fuzzysoft to Human Relations (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Never underestimate the power of legos to amuse young boys (or grown men for that matter). Also these kids sound like they are exactly the right age to be introduced to Calvin and Hobbes.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 12:20 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Kids, especially at that age are pretty good at amusing themselves, so I'd just go with the flow. Also, it's really fun to just sit down and have actual conversations with them (instead of just trying to keep them entertained)--assuming they aren't too hyper. Ask them to talk about things they like and things they like to do, and then ask why they like those things, and for them to show you.
posted by greta simone at 12:26 PM on January 20, 2012

Minor kitchen-science experiments, cooking, making forts, books about bugs and monsters, big trucks, silly words in familiar songs, anything poo and wee, bottoms and snot.

I have a five year old daughter and these are perennial favourites amongst her and all the five year olds I know.

Also...the card game "Spot It".
posted by taff at 12:40 PM on January 20, 2012

just ask them what they wanted to do. when i spent time with my ex's kids (ages 9 and 5), they always had things in mind that they wanted to do—and wanted me to do with them.
posted by violetk at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2012

Outdoor activities, if they live in an area where that is possible (i.e. they have a yard, or there is a park nearby). Also, I'd use the first visit to figure out the kinds of things they are interested in, before going out and buying a ton of supplies.
posted by purlgurly at 12:59 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I came in to say two things: Lego, and Play-doh. My mom used to make Play-doh for me at home... This recipe is similar to how she made it.
posted by brand-gnu at 1:00 PM on January 20, 2012

Do they have a library near home? That could be a fun regular outing.
posted by purlgurly at 1:01 PM on January 20, 2012

Outside as much as possible regardless of the weather.
posted by zeikka at 1:18 PM on January 20, 2012

Goop! Its just cornstarch & water, but so much fun to play with!

(Also, when they get older you can teach them about Newtonian fluids!)
posted by Krushchev at 1:26 PM on January 20, 2012

Bring a CD/MP3 player of your favorite, funkiest, booty-shakingest (Mom-approved of course!) music and have a mini dance party. When I babysat my 5-year-old brother this was always a fun activity. My 3-year-old son enjoys this as well.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:29 PM on January 20, 2012

Best answer: - A pile of Legos... yes, that's a definite go-to solution. It will keep a pair of 5-year old boys immersed for hours.

- Videos are of course a dubious area, but if you make the right picks and discuss your choices with the parents, this may be a really good thing. Here are some ideas for ones with educational slants (an old of mine). Keep in mind that not all kids videos are loud, mainstream, and full of cut editing (a pet peeve of mine)... there are some programs like Little Travelers and Fantasia which are low key and educational/artistic at the same time.

- Try some adventure walks outside, keeping an eye out for interesting bugs, plants, or rocks, and go with the flow with what piques their interest.

- Treasure hunts indoors or outdoors. If they can't read yet, you can put hand-drawn pictures of the next clue's location, then they look there and find another one, etc, etc.

- This would need more coordination and some money, but you can set up a sandbox in the back yard or garage, and show how to make roads, quarries, forts, etc.
posted by crapmatic at 3:13 PM on January 20, 2012

I agree with the lego ideas above. Also, you may get an idea of what sort of a schedule the mom keeps when you spend the first day with her. Hopefully she already has their day somewhat organized so you can just keep up that sort of routine. 5 year old's imaginations are really starting to explode so try to figure out what kind of things they are interested so you can plan activities around those themes that will take up some time. You don't need to buy or bring fancy things to do that just start with their ideas and build on them. Lots of 5 year old boys aren't into drawing or writing so you may need to focus on more building/constructing type activities.
posted by scrubbles at 5:13 PM on January 20, 2012

Best answer: Even at 5, my son appreciated having a routine. Have a rough plan/outline for your time there, keep it consistent week to week, and things will probably go more smoothly. For example - first hour is something super active, like dance party or outside time, followed by snack, followed by some reading or LEGO time, etc... Might take you a couple of weeks to figure out what works, but I find that it's nice to have a system.
posted by hms71 at 7:18 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

the best part about babysitting twins is that they play with each other. they barely need you! you csn probably help them out with getting their toys and watch them play.
posted by sabh at 7:50 PM on January 20, 2012

Aside from Legos (which I should note, not every 5-year-old has the motor skills / attention span to stay interested in for more than 15 minutes or so), 5-year-olds also like to play with puzzles (simple ones, think 50 pieces or less unless the kid REALLY likes puzzles), toy cars (especially if there is some sort of structure for the cars to "play" in, like a car wash), marble runs, play dough (with cookie cutters to make crazy shapes) and motley collections of cardboard tubes and boxes (these work really well with the marbles and the cars). Also, do not forget that boys also like dolls and dollhouses. They just call their dolls "action figures" and their doll houses "castles."

5-year-old boys tend to like non-fiction kids' books about sciencey things such as dinosaurs, bugs, rocket ships, and the solar system.

5-year-old boys love to help bake cookies (It's like a chemistry set! Then it's like play dough! Then you eat it!) and if no one has taught them to do so yet, somebody should.

5-year-old boys like to collect things, especially on nature walks. 5-year-olds are old enough to be taught to identify basic types of plants and trees, and like to take home rocks and leaves and pine cones. The parents of 5-year-olds generally like to corral these collections and keep them off the dining room table, so label a shoe box with "Walk Box," and put the nature collection in there.

5-year-old boys simply cannot sit still for long without getting antsy, so be prepared to alternate sit-down activities with silly dancing, running in circles, jumping jacks, and, whenever possible, a good ten minutes at a playground.

5-year-old children are awesome, because they're still young enough to discover all sorts of things in the world for the first time, and are just old enough to talk coherently about it. If you let them, 5-year-olds will remind you what it was like to be 5, which is the real secret to figuring out the coolest ways for you and the kids to have fun.
posted by BlueJae at 7:03 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My kids love when the babysitter comes because she does what they want to do the whole time like read the books they select and play the games they want. The boys might be happy to show you their toys and what they like to do. I would hold off on big guns, messy projects until you know them all better. Incorporate cleaning each thing up as they finish with it - as in let's put this puzzle away before we get out that game - so it isn't all out at the end of the time. Don't incorporate electronics/television unless you have the parent's okay and even then keep it as a last resort. I hate when I'm paying a babysitter and they put on the television.
posted by kimmae at 8:17 AM on January 21, 2012

Response by poster: Oh man, all your answers are great! What turned out to be super successful are lego, play doh and books! They will be entertained by these the whole time. However, I am totally taking the suggestion of treasure map and I'm making them one in the future when I've some more time. They will absolutely LOVE it! And of course, they will have to work as a team to solve it so they both win. (: We never use anything electronic-for 5 whole hours! I love it. Thank you for all your suggestions! It has been going great.
posted by fuzzysoft at 6:36 PM on March 1, 2012

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