Air travel with young children can be very challenging. Not only do you have to worry about packing the essentials like a diaper bag, stroller, crib accessories, etc.
You also have to worry about entertaining your child for however long your flight is.
I know some parents don’t like to use screens as their sole form of entertainment. That is understandable.
According to Medline Plus, too much screen time can make it hard for kids to sleep at night. Too much screen time also leads to attention problems in children.
In this article, I have put together a list of 20 plane activities you can do with your toddler or preschooler.
Before we dive in, note that some of the activities will be more suitable for older toddlers while others can be done at any age.
You know your child best and what they can do.
Now, let’s jump right into the list.
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1. Coloring pages
This is one of our go-to activities. Most kids love to color, so get as many coloring pages as you can find from Etsy.
You can find themes related to flights such as airplane coloring pages. If your kid likes a particular animal or object, get coloring pages about that thing too. This activity can be done by 2 to 5-year-olds.
2. Drawing simple objects or figures
This one is for older toddlers and preschoolers (3 years to 5 years old). Challenge them to draw something cool they see inside the airplane.
It can be a person or a thing. They can color their picture when they’re done. That should keep them busy for a while.
3. Green kid’s crafts
If you don’t know about this company yet, you’ve been missing out.
Green Kids Crafts create cool DIY science craft activities for kids ranging from 2 years to 12 years old (perfect for toddlers and preschoolers).
You can either buy individual boxes or get a monthly subscription.
As a science teacher myself, I can’t recommend their science craft activities enough.
An airplane trip would be the perfect time to open up one of their craft boxes and dive into the activities together.
If your kids love dinosaurs, try out their Dinosaur Activity Box for ages 2 and over. I also love their reptile box as well. There’s a box for every animal & scientific interest your child may have. Go on and try them out.
They take every activity to the next level by including a 12-page magazine that has comics, games, puzzles, and more. Your child will never be bored again on a plane.
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4. Decorate with stickers
You can find so many sticker books on Amazon for little kids. I like My First Early-Learning Sticker Books because they’re geared towards 1-year-olds to 3-year-olds.
Kids are given different prompts. They have to find the sticker that matches the prompts. Just keep in mind though that the stickers are not reusable.
If you want to keep things open-ended, then get these 150+ reusable stickers from Melissa and Doug.
5. Get a quiet book
Quiet books are great for kids, for so many reasons. They are similar to busy boards but in a book format. All quiet books are made of felt fabric to reduce the noise level.
Kids get to learn useful skills such as undoing and redoing buttons, tying a shoe, color & shape sorting, zipping up a pant, telling time, and so much more.
The skills your toddler will learn depends on the type of quiet book you buy. I like this quiet book from Etsy because it teaches so many skills on each page.
6. Create a picture story about your journey
This is an opportunity to help your older toddlers (3 to 4 years old) practice storytelling. A picture story is just a pre-written story with spaces to fill in the blanks.
Kids are encouraged to use words from a word bank or draw a picture to fill in the blank.
An example of a story prompt could be “ I am traveling to ______ to visit ______”.
With help from their parents, kids can write the name of the place they’re going to and who they’re visiting. Add more fill-in-the-blank prompts to create a full story.
When they are done writing, have them decorate their story with drawings, and stickers to bring it more to life.
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6. Dry-erase board and makers
Give your kids a blank canvas like a dry-erase board, and watch how creative they get. There are so many things you can do with the board.
They can draw, practice their numbers, write, and play games. The possibilities are endless.
7. Do simple fun math problems
This might not sound like a fun activity for kids, but if you set it up well, you could turn it into one. Teach addition using some of the things you have around you on the plane.
Use snacks, toys, makers, toys, etc. to teach simple additions like 1+1 or 2+2.
Here’s an example: ask your kids. If I have 2 animal crackers and mommy gives me 2 more, then how many do I have now?
They will learn to count, learn addition, and play with things around them.
8. Get a busy board
I love busy boards like this one from Etsy because they teach kids life skills such as tying their shoes, undoing and redoing their buttons, etc.
These are skills that toddlers need to learn to help them become more independent. Why not teach these skills while keeping them busy for hours on the airplane?
This is one of my favorite busy boards from Etsy
9. Read a book
Keeping kids busy on a plane doesn’t have to be complicated. You could simply bring along their favorite books and read with them.
Have your kids pick out 3-4 books they would like to read on a plane. It would help if these books are brand new ones they’ve never read before. Books about airplanes could be fun for them.
10. Walk up and down the aisle
When your kids get tired of being in their seats, take them out when it’s safe to do so. Have them walk up and down the aisle for exercise.
This introduces them to different sections of the plane. It also helps with blood flow and circulation.
11. Play games
Playing games will help you pass the time on a long flight. I like to play simple games with my kids on a long plane ride.
Some of our favorites are “I spy with my little eye”, riddles and puzzles. For the riddles, I come up with simple ones like “what is something that starts with A that you can eat?”. Those are always fun.
Give your kids a chance to come up with riddles as well.
As for the puzzles, I like these jigsaw puzzles from Melissa and Doug made just for kids (3+ years).
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12. Create your own story book
Reading stories can be fun, but why stop there? Wouldn’t it be more fun to create a storybook from scratch?.
I discovered this site called Bookemon sometime last year, and I thought it was the best thing ever.
With Bookemon, you can create your own children’s book, publish it, and sell it all on the website. Your kids can start earning money from a young age from their work.
If you have an imaginative kid who likes to make up stories, an airplane would be a good place to write your own children’s book.
13. Watch a movie
I know some parents like to limit screens when possible, but watching a movie doesn’t have to be a negative thing.
If you’re the parent who is okay with using screens, then you can let your toddler watch a movie.
To make it educational, choose a movie that you know has a good moral story. Prepare a simple movie worksheet ahead of time to help your kids analyze the story in-depth.
Having a structured activity around a movie will help improve your child’s cognitive and recall skills.
To make things easy for you, I have created a FREE movie worksheet just for you. Click here to download it now.
14. Create sculptures with play-doh
Let your toddler mess around with some play-doh. They can build anything in their imagination, and even make a story with “play-doh people”.
When I was younger, my sibling and I did this with clay. We built little clay people and created a whole story behind each character.
If you want a more structured play, challenge them to build something you ask them to. It could be anything they see on the plane.
You could also hide small toys inside the play-doh and ask them to find them.
15. Dolls, stuffed animals, action figures
Pack some of your toddler’s favorite dolls, stuffed animals, and action figures on the trip. This will keep them entertained for a long while
16. Suction toys for plane window
Suction toys are a great way to keep your child busy if you have a window seat on a plane. Kids will love playing with them while watching the clouds outside the window.
The Squigz by Fat Brain Toys on Amazon is a great open-ended suction toy for toddlers of all ages. It’s kind of like Lego but a squiggly version.
Kids can build unique structures with the Squigz and be kept entertained for hours.
17. Look and find books
Look and find books are great to keep toddlers busy on a plane. They are books filled with pictures and a prompt on each page.
For example, a page could have the prompt “find the blue butterfly”. Your kid’s job would be to concentrate and look hard to find the blue butterfly.
For adults, this would be an easy task but it often takes children a long time to find each object. An easy search on Amazon will give you plenty of Look and Find books to choose from.
18. Lego blocks
Give your toddler some Lego blocks to play with. Let them get creative and build whatever their imaginations come up with.
19. Interactive puzzle toys
Puzzles are a great way to teach concentration in kids. It takes patience and time to build a complete image from pieces of little puzzles.
Make sure you get the right puzzle for your toddler’s age. Something too easy will be boring for older toddlers and something too hard will be overwhelming for younger toddlers.
There are so many cool Montessori-inspired puzzles out there. Here are some of my favorites
20. Interactive drawing tablet
If you don’t want to bring chalk, markers, or a whiteboard with you on your travel, you can get a drawing tablet. These tablets are designed for kids without the bright screen of computers & cell phones.
It comes with an attached pen which kids can use to write or draw whatever they want. It also has multicolors to decorate your drawing with.
I recommend this TEKFUN LCD Writing Tablet from Amazon if you want a drawing tablet.
To wrap things up, I want you to know that this too shall pass. The plane trip won’t last forever. Do all you can to entertain your child. If they cry, it’s okay too. Parents on the plane won’t judge you.
It’s a very good idea to have lots of snacks on hand for when they get restless.
You also want to have brand new toys and games with you. The newness of the toys will add to their excitement to want to play with them.
If you have a very young toddler, using noise-canceling headphones will help with their ears popping.
I hope I’ve given you some great ideas on how to keep your toddler entertained during your plane travel.
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