This time of year, every parent gets anxious about their travel plans and keeping their young kids occupied on long plane flights. Besides packing a few great travel toys you'll want to have some airplane activities that won't break or get lost. Here are our top ten airplane activities for toddlers and preschoolers that won't increase the size of your luggage!
- Go on a scavenger hunt through the airplane magazine. On each page, pick one item that your child has to locate. For older children, hand them the magazine and say "can you find a picture of an airplane?"
- Put some fun pictures onto your digital camera (you're carrying it anyway). Good candidates are pictures of the people and places you are going to visit or pictures of a recent adventure (like the zoo). During the flight, you can relive the fun and tell stories about where/who you're visiting.
- When the flight attendant delivers drinks, ask for a cup, a couple ice cubes, and a straw. There are endless games with this combination. Ice is fascinating to toddlers in and of itself, and you can teach them to swirl it on the bottom of the cup, or catch it on the straw (airplane ice usually has a hole in the middle). Watch that the ice doesn't end up in their mouth though (choking hazard).
- Teach yourself some new finger rhymes (e.g. "where is thumbkin") before you go.
- Get your children playing with the neighbors in front of and behind you before the plane takes off. (Peek-a-boo and kiss-blowing are hard for even the most stoic travelers to resist). Your seat-mates will be a lot more understanding if your children have a difficult time later once they've seen them at their cutest, and you never know what fun entertainment they'll come up with.
- Extend snack time by challenging your child. "What is the is the smallest bite you can take" or "see if you can eat just one at a time (tricky for little fingers). Pack your snacks in Tupperware & the packaging becomes a toy when the snack is done.
- For young toddlers, screwing and unscrewing the top on a plastic water bottle is great fun (watch carefully as small tops are a choke hazard). Ask the flight attendant to bring you an empty bottle if you're not carrying one.
- Learning how to fasten and unfasten an "old fashioned" seatbelt, jacket zipper, and snaps or buttons on their clothing (or a carryon bag) can keep them occupied for a long time
- Have your toddler help you make up fanciful stories about what you will do on your trip. For young toddlers, they might choose between two options, while older kids will be able to fill in parts of the stories.
- Three words: Barf bag puppets
You've already killed quite a bit of time without breaking into your secret stash of travel toys and books. Our next post will cover our favorite airplane toys for toddlers