Keeping kids entertained involves more than just popping on the TV or switching on the video game console and letting them have at it. In fact, many parents don’t even allow their kids screen time, or heavily regulate it. Being an effective babysitter today necessitates having a whole portfolio of activities ready to go.
Kids are insatiably curious about the world, and a good babysitter should be using the time with their kids to engage their brains. Think outside the box when planning babysitting activities, because the kids sure will be doing so. Here are some fun, easy science projects you can do with your kids to keep them engaged and learning! Just remember, a good babysitter always cleans up before the parents get home!
Lava Lamps: A Babysitting Activity Win
What child doesn’t want a lava lamp in their bedroom? This easy science experiment is sure to wow your kids, and is cheap! Just rustle up a few common household ingredients and get mixing.
- One clean plastic bottle, per lamp
- Vegetable Oil
- A funnel
- Fizzing tablets (like an Alka-Seltzer tablet)
- Food Coloring
- Glitter and craft sequins in different colors, shapes, and sizes, for added effects
- A flashlight for effect
- Fill your plastic bottle to the halfway mark with water
- Add food coloring until happy with the depth of color
- Add any glitter or sequins, and give the mixture a shake
- Funnel approximately 3/4 cup of vegetable oil into the water
- Break your fizzing tablet in half and drop both halves into the bottle. Bubbles and blobs should start to separate and float. (If you want to make a more permanent lava lamp, skip this step)
- Turn off the lights and shine a flashlight on the bottle to watch the shapes glitter and sparkle as they drift.
The reason the lamp works is because vegetable oil is less dense than water. This causes the oil to separate and float. The food coloring, however, is the same density as water, so it mixes well. Adding the fizzing tablet creates a gas called carbon dioxide, which is also lighter than water. Gas bubbles to float to the top, and drag some of the color with them in the process. Once the air is released from the bubbles at the surface, they pop and coloring sinks back down to the bottom.
Go On a Color Adventure With Rainbow Celery
This novel babysitting activity is a great way to demonstrate how plants “drink” water. It’s also a great teamwork activity, and one that unfolds over a series of days. Be ready for your kids’ follow-up questions!
Materials (Enough For Each Kid)
- Child-friendly scissors
- Food coloring (bring various colors)
- Clear jars or vases
- Stalks of celery, with leaves
- Give each kid a jar, a stalk of celery, a pair of child-friendly scissors, and a bottle of food coloring
- Have the kids carefully cut an inch off the bottom of the celery stalk
- Fill the jars about halfway with water
- Have the kids add roughly 15 to 20 drops of food coloring to their jars
- Put the celery stalks in the jars to start “drinking” the colored water
- Tuck the celery somewhere safe to drink in peace (it will take approximately one week for the celery to change color)
You and your kids can gather daily to check on the celery. The stalks should be fully colored with the dye after about a week! Discuss which stalks have changed the most and why this could be, and how one could have developed a deeper or lighter color. Once you’ve completed the experiment, stand the stalks in a vase for a beautiful and colorful arrangement!
Mini Volcanoes: Because Explosive Babysitting Activities are the Best
Making a miniature volcano with your kids will make you their favorite babysitter in the world. These volcanoes are fun, easy, and inexpensive—and the result is positively explosive!
- Empty 2-liter soda bottle
- 100 ml warm water
- 10 ml dish soap
- 400 ml white vinegar
- Baking soda slurry (combination ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup water)
- Red food coloring
- Mix the soap, water, white vinegar, and food coloring
- Decant the mixture into your empty soda bottle
- Prepare your baking soda slurry, making sure it has completely dissolved
- Carefully pour the slurry into the bottle and caution your kids to step back. Your volcano will shortly erupt and spill out red “lava” for a dramatic photo finish
Explain that the reason the volcano erupts is because of a chemical reaction between vinegar (an acid) and the baking soda slurry (a base). These have a famously volatile interaction: the base decomposes when it is exposed to the acid, producing carbon dioxide gas. The force of the carbon dioxide escaping upward causes the homemade volcano to “erupt,” and the foamy lava spilling out is caused by the dyed dish soap.
Find a Great Babysitter With Nanno
These science experiments are great babysitting activities that are sure to wow kids, while also providing a teaching moment. But for many parents, the first step isn’t worrying about the activities—it’s finding a babysitter in the first place.
In comes Nanno. Nanno is an all-in-one babysitter and nanny sourcing platform. We connect parents with vetted, verified sitters in your neighborhood from our network of over 25,000 childcarers. The platform accommodates sitters for both last-minute and recurring schedules, and our extensive vetting process (multiple background checks, authentication processes, and behavioral profiling) ensures that your children are in good hands while you're away. Subscribe today and let’s find your family the perfect babysitter.