You love your kids to the end of the earth and back, but knowing you’re going to trapped in a confined space about 39,000 feet in the air is enough to make any doting parent question their sanity. Flying with the whole family can be daunting, but there are lots of ways to keep the younger set entertained – and you don’t have to resort to smartphones and tablets to do it, either.
Good, Old-Fashioned Books
Sure, this may be an obvious addition to our list of must-have travel games for kids but there’s a reason sturdy, paperback and hardcover books survive despite society’s rampant obsession with all things electronic There’s something special about the look, feel, and even smell of a good book. Bonus: they don’t require batteries or electricity so no chance that new copy of Harry Potter is going to blank out mid-flight. Encourage the kiddos to read more by allowing them to choose their own books – anything about traveling or your destination would be a great starting point.
Mess-Free Art Projects
Paints on a plane sound even worse than snakes and nobody’s got time to chase wayward crayons and markers as they skitter down the aisle towards first class. Luckily, someone out there has dreamt up a bunch of super solutions so you can promote creativity without surrendering to a major mess. Look into mini magnetic drawing boards kids can doodle on using an attached “pen” and magical pads that transform ordinary water into watercolor-like brush strokes so your budding Picasso can get to work.
It’s simple, it’s colorful, and the possibilities are practically endless. This classic sculpting compound can be transformed into almost anything. Bring a color contains and challenge your co-travelers to recreate items around the – planes, passengers, flight attendants, the food on their dinner tray, characters from the in-flight movie – and dream up new creatures like a sharkicorn or a hippopotamouse.
Before you dismiss this idea as too boring to hold your kids’ attention, hear us out for a minute. Flash cards are a great way to drill important academic concepts like math, state capitals, and presidents, there are also some fun alternatives. Make a custom deck of cards with trivia from a favorite TV show, “name that book” plot descriptions, or song lyrics, or cater to younger tots with image-based cards featuring flowers, dinosaurs, or Disney heroes and villains. It’ll feel like a game, but all that interaction promotes critical thinking and memory skills so you’re actually boosting brain power while en route to your final destination.
Little felt finger puppets are tiny enough to stuff in a carry-on bag but they pack a potentially big wallop entertainment-wise. One set and your little one can deliver a monologue worthy of a starring role in a Broadway play; two sets and you can help him or her stage their first musical or recreate historical events, special family moments, or ideas from deep down in their own impressive imaginations. If the miniature thespians find themselves struggling for ideas, spur on the creativity by throwing out some inventive prompts to serve as the basis for a genius new work.