There are certain things that are always in my airplane travel bag like tons of snacks and enough wipes to supply the entire plane. But with every trip, I like to pack a little something new and exciting to keep the kids entertained during layovers and on the plane. In order to make it into the bag the item has to have enough staying power to entertain at least the majority of the kids, which is challenging considering the eight year age range in my family. It also has to be compact enough that it does not take up a ton of space. I am already getting on the plane with four children, that's quite enough extra stuff to tote around so I need my bag to manageable.
Ten + 1 Great Activities to Keep Kids Busy on Airplanes and During Layovers
1. Toss Up: A great little dice game in a super tiny case that is even small enough to fit in your pocket. Players roll the dice and rack up points as long as they are rolling greens, but just like a stop light, a red roll means stop and you lose all your accumulated points. No reading and a mostly luck driven game make this a game that multiple ages can play. As a bonus, kids practice math skills and take a roll at playing the odds. Never too early to learn to gamble, right?
2. Lightening Bugs: Part food and part toy, these yummy gummy bugs are a combination tantrum tamer. Small tweezers with a built in LED light illuminate the gummy bugs, causing them to glow when you pick them up and eat them. So cute!
3. Straw Shaker: Empty parmesan shaker + drinking straws= more than five back to back minutes of toddler entertainment. You'll likely get tired of picking up the straws before your little one is tired of feeding them through the holes, but it's a quiet game that packs well and makes a great restaurant toy too.
4. Historic Comic Books: In my house, literary critiques go two ways. Books with pictures=awesome and amazing. Books with just words= boring and terrible. Using this theory, comic books, no matter the subject matter are awesome. Shhh, don't tell them they are learning.
5. Knot So Fast: A fast flying, knot tying, and racing game that is easy to pack and quiet to play.
6. National Geography for Kids and Kids Discovery Magazines: Magazines are a great airplane grab because they are lightweight and if they happen to get left behind, you are not out too much money. These two magazines are my absolute favorites for kids!
7. Origami Kits: These were a great dollar aisle find! The kits included all the paper and instructions to make cootie catchers and paper airplanes.
8. Well Loved Board Books: Yes, you've read them enough time to know them by memory, but pulling out a favorite story at the right time can save the person in front of you from a toddler powered vibrating seat.
9. Lacing Beads: Just because it is a staple of the preschool classroom, doesn't mean it will work well on a plane. I brought these along and never even got them out of my bag for fear that the beads rolling and falling off the tray would send me into hives in aisle 12. Even experienced moms make rookie mistakes sometimes and I should have left this one at home.
10. Tricky Fingers: A great Discovery Toy that has been traveling with us for ten years. Kids move the beads into place to match a pattern on the playing card. This is great for big kids, but little kids are content just to move the beads around to make their own pattern. It's a great toy for all ages. It can be noisy if it is shaken, so take care to put it away before causing the whole airplane to break into hives.
11.Slap Bracelets: All my kids love to play with these. If I am really desperate, I can even entertain them (and the whole plane) with the mad slap bracelet skills I picked up in eighth grade homeroom.