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50 Ways to Entertain a Kid on an Airplane
Easy travel games, products and ideas that will help get you and your kids through a long flight
Samuel L. Jackson was terrified of snakes on a plane. But the tough guy never dealt with an energetic toddler on a five-hour flight to Grandma’s house. Now that’s scary.
But you don’t need to worry. All you need to do is print and save this list. You’ll find 50 fabulous ways to pass the time, without annoying fellow passengers or running into TSA restrictions (play-dough, glue sticks and ninja throwing stars are all in the “forbidden” category, no matter how much your toddler may enjoy them at home).
Pick your favorite lightweight, no-fuss options from the following list. Go ahead, have a good time on the plane. They aren’t charging you for that—yet.
Have an electronic fanatic under your care? Check out the Best iPhone and iPad Games for Little Kids!
5. Spin string through different farm animals with lacing boards.
6. Use beeswax crayons, rectangular crayons or glitter crayons (look for ones that won’t roll away) on a variety of papers stapled together: colored, tracing and textured.
9. Make necklaces with paper clips, and add beads for more silly pizzazz.
10. Surprise your child with new lift-the-flap board books, like this fun book set.
11. Mix up a silly cake (don’t forget the imaginary twigs and dirt) using a kiddie spoon, fork and measuring spoons from home. Bonus: It’ll taste better than anything the airline serves.
12. Keep little fingers busy with some Moon Sand.
13. Play dress-up on the plane with a small bag of old necklaces, bracelets, scarves and sunglasses.
14. Encourage dress-yourself skills with a zipper, snaps, and Velcro sewn onto denim, or bring along an educational toy like the Melissa & Doug Teddy Wear.
15. Wrap (and unwrap) toys with squares of tin foil—no tape required!
16. Go fishing with a stick, string and dowel. Create “fish” out of Post-it notes.
- Ned Matura
17. Pop a favorite (or even better, new) DVD into your portable DVD player.
18. Play who’s-that-relative with photos of Grandma, Grandpa and other favorite family members inside contact paper or plastic sleeves.
19. Bring the office along for crafty activities: Post-it Notes, highlighters, a mini-stapler, tape and mini binder clips.
20. String Cheerios on dental floss—a necklace you can eat after you make it!
29. Create a colorful collage with magazines; just snip out letters, animals and faces and connect with tape.
30. Cause a giggle fit with a wind-up seal or dancing robot from Z Windups.
31. Create dot art using Do-A-Dot Art Dot Markers.
32. Listen to favorite audiobooks or storyteller’s yarns, like those offered by audible.com.
33. Color your own carry-on backpack with fabric markers and a canvas backpack.
34. Transform your angel into a (temporary) rock star with rub-on tattoos. Count slowly as you wait for the tat to transfer.
37. Cook up a play campsite for a favorite doll with what’s on hand or what you can score from the airline attendant—napkin tent, coffee stirrer firepit etc.
38. Create a sculpture with bathroom supplies, like cotton balls, Q-tips, tissues and tape.
39. Co-author a book: Write down your child’s dictated story on a pre-stapled stack of paper, and ask him to supply the illustrations.
40. Toy with portable activity kits, like this no-sew stuffed animal kit.
45. Take getting-there shots for the scrapbook with an instant camera.
46. Create 3-D sculptures with Wikki Stix or pipe cleaners.
47. Make a bouncing ball out of three bags of rubber bands.
48. Spy on row 25 with a magnifying glass, binoculars and a notebook.