Activities to keep your kids entertained on your long flight or drive
I was scared. In the face of a five hour plane ride alone with my busy three and one year-olds, I sought advice from family and friends. How does one single-handedly keep children content enough that they don’t entirely destroy any hope of peace on the plane? There were many good suggestions, but my favorite came from my wiser older sister, Kristen, who seems to have a good answer to everything kid-related.
Kristen’s tried and true approach to keeping little hands busy involves gathering lots of fun, small activities and wrapping them. Though it does take a bit of time to wrap and prepare the activities, it feels great to have “tricks” up your sleeve to pull out when needed. The novelty of the wrapping paper allows the use of “old” toys that the kids have already played with. Kristen has her kids open a toy each half hour. I chose to pull them out as needed. She says her kids will sit quietly for a full fifteen minutes or so with the upcoming “gift” in their hands, just waiting until it is time to open the next toy.
Step One: Gather Your Toys and Activities
I would recommend rummaging through the dollar store, the craft and dollar sections of WalMart, Target, or wherever you like to shop. I had success in the dollar section of Michaels, too. Don’t forget to include a few of your kids’ favorite toys as well. My sister recommended having a little bin or spot where you collect these treasures in the months or weeks preceding your trip.
Below I have listed the items that I brought along to keep my kids entertained, as well as the list that my sister shared with me. Hopefully it will help you as you prepare for your upcoming travels.
- “Make a Book Kit.” My sister says this is the activity that she has had the most success with of all of the things she has ever prepared for her kids. Obtain a pencil box (the plastic kind the kids use in school…they are $1 at back to school time, so I stock up) or big ziploc and fill it with things to “make a book.” Buy a $1 flimsy photo book and get index cards for the kids to use to make pages. Then fill the box with supplies: a few crayons, a pencil or pen, a few markers, tape, scissors (if you are comfortable with it), stickers (the cheap red, yellow, blue and green dots are fun to use as heads or smiley faces. I have bought the cheap rectangle and star ones too.), sticky notes, a small square of card stock with a shape cut out to use as a stencil (those fun shaped “hole punches” work great if you have them), a glue stick…any craft things lying around. We actually usually do this when we are going on long car rides but it keeps them going for a long time though it can get a bit messy.
- Coloring, activity, color-by-number, or “how to draw” books
- Foam stickers on a foam door hanger
- Travel-size puzzle
- A few small cars, animal figurines, princesses, or whatever your kids would like
- A new or favorite book
- Jet planes. My sister said that her kids love these. Her assessment was that they like the novelty of having a plane to play with on the plane.
- Play dough with a list of things they should make with it: fruits, veggies, people, animals, letters etc.
- Bendaroos. This was a big purchase, about $10-15 a couple of trips ago, but she just lets them use them on the plane rides so they remain novel.
- A small sheet of Toy story stickers, a white paper and instructions to use the stickers and paper to make a scene.
- Silly Face stickers. This year Kristen found stickers of different eyes, noses, mouths etc at Michaels and picked a couple of books of them up. She made a sheet asking them to make lots of different faces: silly, grumpy, happy, surprised etc with the stickers.
- Painting sheet. This was a 50 cent purchase I found in clearance a while back. They are pictures with little swatches of water color paint at the bottom that they use a q-tip to paint with.
- Magnetic books
- Skittle or M&M graph – a snack size Ziploc of candy and they sort and then count or graph how many of each color before eating.
- Snacks, to include in each wrapped package.
Step Two: Plan and Wrap
After I had gathered all of the “travel ammunition” (aka toys and crafts), I set them out in the order that I wanted my kids to open them. I labeled each gift with their initial and the number/gift order. It only took me one evening to wrap them all, and I felt it was worth the time investment. I fit all of the gifts into my backpack, with plenty of room to spare for other necessities.
Although my kids weren’t perfect on the plane ride, I felt that having organized activities for them to enjoy on the plane made the flight a lot easier. I got comments that my kids were really well-behaved, so I’m calling it a success.
What tips do you have for successful travel with little ones?
Welcome to ATeacherMom!I used to be a high school English teacher but I recently retired to raise my family. I now consider myself to be a teacher-mom. I am hoping to make my home the greatest classroom of all where learning is continual, innovative and most importantly fun.
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