Friday, August 26, 2011

Flying with kids: my top 7 activities & toys to bring

LazyTown - Sports Candy FestivalOn our recent long-haul flights I've determined pretty well what toys and activities work for my kids (4 and 8 years old).

Now, it's possible that my kids are a little particular. For example, neither one of them likes any kind of hand-held electronic game, and neither one is interested in any kind of personal audio-player.

Also, once we're on board the plane, they are mostly interested in whatever movies or TV-shows are available on the in-flight entertainment system. On our recent trip with Iceland Air, for example, my 4 year old daughter watched innumerable episodes of the Iceland-produced kids' show Lazy Town.

Anyway, after this year's field tests, I will definitely bring along these 7 "entertainment items" on our upcoming trips:

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? (Caldecott Honor Book)Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp!

1. Books
Perfect when the kids want to just chill out at the gate, or when they're too tired to really do anything but a) whine, or b) listen to a story. Recent favorites include Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp! and What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?.

Crayola 24 Ct CrayonsMelissa & Doug Doodle Pad

2. Crayons and paper or coloring books
Simple, easy to bring, and usually good for passing at least fifteen minutes or so at the gate or on the plane. Remember that on most airplanes the tray table is not very roomy, so don't bring coloring books or paper that is too big and bulky.

Sticker Activity ABC (Early Learning: Sticker Activity)I Love Animals Sticker Book (I Love Sticker Books)
3. Sticker books
This is a great, non-messy activity at the airport or on the plane. My kids have gone through several of these, some where you place stickers in various landscapes, and some where you can created faces or creatures using the stickers.

Aurora Plush 12" Pal, Aurora Babies Pug PupPlush Baby Emperor Penguin 6.5"
4. Stuffed animals
My daughter does not travel anywhere without a selection of stuffed animals. I just have to limit the maximum number that goes into her hand luggage or it gets ridiculous.

Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway - Thomas the Tank EngineHot Wheels 10 Car Pack (Styles May Vary)
5. Trains, planes & automobiles
My son is a vehicle man. He usually brings along a toy airplane, and one or two small toy trains and cars that he'll play with by driving them on the floor at the airport, or on his seat and tray table on board.

Tiger Stage Puppet
6. Hand puppets
Yes, it seems my family has a thing for puppets. I've mentioned before how they can be used to maintain a sense of humor on long trips, and even to help coax kids out of a tantrum. Just one goofy puppet can make it so much easier to get your travel-weary kid to laugh. Really. My kids usually bring a fluffy tiger puppet along.

The Learning Journey Match It (Spelling)Infantino Where's My Tail Puzzle
7. 2 small games
We usually bring 2 small games with cardboard playing pieces along. One is an alphabet matching game where you match puzzle pieces together: the letter that goes with the word in the picture. The other one is a "what goes with this?" matching game, where you match together puzzle pieces with things like snorkel and dive mask, stars and moon. My daughter really likes these games, and they're easy to set up and play, and also easy to bring along in a ziploc bag.

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