Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

It’s in the Bag: Creating a Babysitting Toolkit for Teens

Traditionally, teens turn to babysitting to make some quick, cold hard cash.  There are a couple of things you can do to help teens with their babysitting career while you promote literacy and get teens in using your library.

The American Red Cross offers a 1 day babysitting class that teaches teens basic babysitting skills like diapering.  In addition, they do CPR certification.  There is a fee associated with the class, which either the library could pay per person or pass that cost onto your teens.  In the past I have paid $28.00 a head for the certified training course.  The benefit do doing the class is that the Red Cross does all the work and the teen leaves with a certificate in their hand.  The downside is that there is no real focus on early literacy, which I think libraries would want to include.

You can also use your library resources to help teens develop a basic babysitting toolkit that focuses on early literacy.

You can include any or all of the following activities, or come up with your own.
The Magic Bag
Purchase plain tote bags at your local craft store and give teens the opportunity to decorate them.  You can use fabric paints, patches and more.  This will be their magic bag of tricks they will use in being a successful babysitter.  The goal is to walk out of your program with a toolkit ready and packed that they can take to each babysitting gig.
Puppet Play
Use your leftover craft scraps and make puppets.  Teens can place these puppets in their magic bags and use them to play with the kids they babysit.  Talk to teens about how they can use the puppets to bring storytelling to life and entertain kids.  When first meeting a new child using a puppet can also help break down barriers.
Use the basic puppet outline above and cut out 2 pieces in felt.  Sew the outside edges together for a very basic felt puppet.  Teens can use scraps to make clothing, hair, facial features and more.
You can also make stick puppets. Or, if you like, most craft stores have pre-made kits available that you can simply purchase to cut down the amount of prep time on your end.
Storytime
Take this opportunity to talk to teens about basic early literacy.  Give them at least 1 copy of a board book and a couple of good reading lists to take in their bags with them.  They are magic bags and there is nothing more magical than the power of story.
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Get the Word Out
Of course a teen babysitter has no business without customers, so allow teens the opportunity to create fliers to promote their babysitting business.  This is an excellent way to teach some tech literacy skills and help teens succeed.  Go over some basic design and layout pointers, the importance of word choice, and keeping oneself safe (Will they include last names?  What kind of contact information?)  Print off some copies for teens so they can take them out and post them.  Remember, if you save the entire image as a .jpeg teens can also post them on websites and social media sites.
Other things you can do:
  • Put together mini first aid kits or craft kits (another great way to get rid of all those left over supplies).
  • Have teens make a musical instrument to put in their bag; there are lots of great crafty ways to do the maraca.
  • Talk about snacks and show them all your fun snack cook books.  Let them put one together for a treat at your program.
  • Share your kids music collection and show them a couple of fun songs you do at story time.
  • Don’t forget to share some sheets with your favorite finger plays and rhymes!  Those would make a great addition to the bag.
  • Just for fun, have a baby doll diaper changing relay.  Or an raw egg relay to show how delicate you have to be while holding a baby; although I definitely suggest putting down tarps if you do that :)
Note:  This program would also be a great program to do with teen moms or with the child development classes in your local schools.  This is also a great way to collaborate with your children’s department and strengthen those relationships if your teen services program is separate.  You call also try and pair the two programs together in a 2 session series so that teens, and the kids they babysit, get the benefit of both sessions.