This post highlights 10 awesome activities kids can do on an airplane that will keep them occupied and entertained during long flights and even longer waits in airports.
Why are they so great? Because they are quiet, screen-free and relatively mess-free! All great qualities to have in products when you are sharing space with other airplane passengers.
We are getting ready to fly with all three of our kids for the first time soon! They have never been on a plane (except for when my first was an infant) and are beyond excited!
They are also a tad nervous about being launched through the sky in a metal tube. Thus, I think it best to have a few activities in my back pocket to keep them distracted.
We have used a great many of these products for long road trips. As either the driver or passenger on said trips, I greatly appreciate activities that are quiet, clean and screen-free.
Related Post: 10 Screen-free and mess-free car activities for kids!
Full disclosure, I do allow screen time on long trips and we will absolutely have our Kindle Fires charged and at the ready. But… I don’t like my kids to be glued to them for long periods of time. It messes with their brains and puts them in a crabby mood.
Thus, having a few other things to keep their minds sharp and hands busy is a must in my book.
Check them out for yourself and pick a few to try!
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1. Melissa and Doug Water Wow!
These Melissa and Doug Water Wows are great and only require a little bit of water. Make sure to have the water paint brushes filled up after you go through security but before the flight starts.
The “magical” water pen makes pictures appear as you swipe across the page.
Bonus: Once the page dries, the picture is back to normal and your little one can relive the fun over and over again!
2. Invisible Black Light Pens
These black light invisible ink pens are awesome! I even like to have fun with these! They will make you and your kids feel like you are staring in the next installment of Spy Kids.
The ink is invisible so kids can write on paper, on their arm, on their seat or wherever! It only shows up if you use the black light attached to the pen to reveal your drawing or secrete message.
3. Imagine Ink and Crayola Color Wonder
Similar to the Water Wow, these Imagine Ink markers and accompanying booklets provide a ton of fun for kids and are mess free! Kids will discover a world of hidden pictures and magically appearing colors while doodling with the Invisible Ink pen.
A similar product that we have used in the car with lots of smiles and success are the Crayola Color Wonder products.
4. Mad Libs
Okay, so these aren’t exactly quiet but… they are oh-so fun! Do you remeber them? I love them and so do my 8 year old son and 7 year old daughter who can read now!
Aren’t kids who are old enough to read and write the best?!
Mad Libs are silly and provide some really good belly laughs for both you and your kids! Plus, mega bonus… they’re educational! They encourage reading and teach the parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs!
Kids fill in the blanks with words that other participants provide and then read the story out loud for the other commuters to enjoy. Hilarious.
Perhaps these would be best for the airport waits rather than on the plane so you can spread out a bit and really yuck it up!
5. Magna Doodles
I have fond memories of Magna Doodles as a kid and was memorized by the picture creating magnet pencil, magnet stamps and the one-swipe erasing slide bar.
An added bonus is that the magnet pencil is connected to the board by a string, making this a mess-free and potentially tear-free activity should your child continually drop the pen.
6. Travel Bingo
The playing pieces in these games are magnetic or flaps connected to the board. Again, potentially meltdown free* should your kid lack the fine motor skills to keep track of itty-bitty items.
7. Magnetic Dry Erase Marker Board
If you are going to have a marker on an airplane that actually makes a visible mark, then I feel your best option is the dry erase variety. That way, if they decide to “decorate” the window, it will easily wipe away!
8. Magnet Boards and Magnets
Kids love these magnet boards! They really are fascinating and chances of them hitting the airplane aisle is minimized since they stay put on the magnetic boards.
Once again, this activity can be educational, too, as kids can practice letter sounds, number recognition, sight words, spelling words and making sentences if you choose to bring along a set of the letter and number magnets.
9. Reusable Sticker Pads
Reusable sticker pads are a great kid activity for flights. They are quiet and relatively mess-free.
Should the kiddos decide to adorn the seat in front of them, the window or their baby sister with a trillion stickers, they won’t stick permanently and will peel right off.
They stickers that come with these things are more like cling-ables or window decals, making clean-up of unwarranted toddler sticker attacks much, much easier to deal with.
And, if the child actually uses them correctly, they can place and replace them over and over again, using their imagination to create new scenes.
10. Wikki Stix
Some restaurants hand out these Wikki Stix in lieu of coloring place mats for kids. That’s where we discovered them first. They are basically like wax pipe cleaners that are bendable and can be molded into different creations. It’s like giving kids a blank canvas and asking them to shape and create whatever comes to mind!
11. Bonus idea: Podcasts or Audiobooks
If you have access to WiFi during you flight or, if you download them ahead of time, podcasts and audiobooks are a great option to keep kids entertained while traveling via plane.
If you have not entered into the world of podcasts then you are really missing out. They are AWESOME and there are so many great series for kids that will keep both you and them entertained.
Download an app on your phone that will let you listen to them (I use castbox). Make sure you bring along some comfortable, kid-friendly ear buds or wireless Bluetooth headphones for the kids, too. Other passengers most likely don’t want to listen to a children’s podcast.
Audiobooks are also a great option! Kids are more entertained by them than you might think!
We recently listened to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe followed by book one of The 39 Clues series and are getting ready to start the Harry Potter series during our morning and afternoon commutes to school.
There are two audio book apps that I use that connect straight to my local library. They are called Hoopla and Overdrive. No doubt there are others I have not discovered.
All you need is a smart phone and a library card. Audio books are also fabulous for parents who love to read but have no time (all of us). They make housework and commutes to work way more fun and exciting.
When I am plugged into a good audio book, I honestly look forward to longer commutes in the car, school car line and folding laundry. Did you hear that?! I said folding laundry!
Just a heads up, however. If there is a book you have in mind and it is a popular one, try to put a hold on it ahead of time so it will be available for your trip. Sometimes the timing isn’t perfect but you can usually finagle it to have the book when you need it.
Or, if you’d rather not wait, give Audible a try. Amazon’s Audible program allows you to have almost any book, anytime for one, low monthly cost.
I hope you and your family enjoy these flight activities! Comment below with any other travel gems I’m missing. Have fun out there and safe travels!