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11 Ways: How to Entertain Kids on a Plane (Without Electronics)

Flying on a plane can make adults cranky, with all of the wait times and no room to move around. So you could imagine that kids are going to feel even more bored when flying. If you try to limit your children’s electronic devices, it can be even more challenging trying to keep young ones from getting upset.

Here are 11 ways for how to entertain kids on a plane without electronics such as iPads or tablets.

P.S. These are great back up ideas to have in your luggage in case your kids do use an iPad but you are worried about the batteries going dead and not lasting long.

grandmother and child boarding an airplane through ticket counter

You might also like to see our 52 Road Trip Activities for Kids, too. Almost all of the ideas are technology-free and perfect for traveling.

Craft Kits

There are all kinds of fun hands-on activities that kids can do without scissors or a lot of craft supplies. Arts and crafts can keep kids busy for quite a while, so this idea is definitely a win!

Friendship bracelets are easy to make and lightweight to carry. Younger kids might like making felt stickers (they could even put them on their luggage tag afterwards!), while older kits can enjoy learning origami and paper folding.

All of these craft kits, and others like them, don’t take up a lot of space and don’t require a lot of tools or supplies.

Colorforms

Colorforms are amazing stickers that cling to surfaces but don’t stay stuck on. Which is great if you are in a plane and don’t want your kid to attach stickers to the back of the seat and the tray table!

There are so many Colorforms to choose from. They come in a set with a variety of clings that attach to a story board and kids can make their own designs and stories as they play. Older kids (and some adults, LOL) might like this Retro Barbie Dreamhouse Colorforms set, but little kids might like something like Daniel Tiger’s Travel Set.

New Toy

A brand new toy always seems to get a kids attention! It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. In fact, go to the dollar store or thrift store and pick up a variety of inexpensive small toys that don’t take up too much room in your luggage. The new factor seems to make all the difference to keep kids distracted for a little while.

Just remember don’t get toys with lights, sounds or sirens as they will be a nuisance in the tight room of a plane with other passengers.

boy on plane giving high five to flight attendant

Coloring Books

A new coloring book can also keep a kid’s attention for quite a while. As well as a new pack of crayons and markers. If your kids are used to a traditional box of crayons or markers, surprise them with glitter and metallic markers for guaranteed interest and enjoyment on the plane!

Consider getting Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Markers and Paper so that your kids won’t make a mess on the seat back table since these markers will only color on the specialty paper, and nothing else.

Finger Puppets

Kids love to be silly, and finger puppets are definitely silly. While you might think they will act out a story with their puppets, they might have another idea of talking to their puppets or interacting with the flight attendants with the puppets. This 20-pack of animal finger puppets doubles as small plushies to play with even if they aren’t used as puppets.

Read

Whether you read to your child or they read on their own, a new book is sure to keep their attention on the plane. You don’t need to spend money to buy new books, you can borrow them from the library.

To help your child get excited about flying, bring books such as Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Airport or Maisy Goes on a Plane. Older kids will enjoy a book such as The Ultimate Book of Airplanes and Airports.

Of course the books don’t have to be about flying. They can be anything that your child will enjoy, from Harry Potter to Captain Underpants.

Another option is to look for Free Libraries at the airport or at your travel destination. If your kids can find an age-appropriate book in these community libraries, they can enjoy reading it while traveling and then donate it back to a free library after they are done.

Don’t forget about kid-friendly magazines, too. They usually have fun pictures to look at and most have games and activities to do.

Travel Games

There are so many travel-size games available that it might be hard to choose just one or two to bring!

A magnetic checker board offers you the chance to teach your kids checkers, a game which will take up a lot of time during the flight.

UNO is a great card game to bring along for flying as well as enjoying in the hotel room.

Memory games are easy to play on the plane, such as this Flip to Win Travel Memory Game.

If you are worried about game pieces falling down on the floor, consider bringing this handy tray cover for an airplane tray table. It has pop-up sides to prevent tiny game pieces or crafting materials from falling off of the tray table.

Activity Books and Word Games

There are so many fun activity books and word game books designed just to keep kids entertained on a plane! The good news is they don’t take up much room in your luggage. Here are some great ones to bring:

Asking Questions

Keep your kids entertained by asking questions that require some thinking and thought. A bonus is that you get to learn more about your children. They can even ask you questions instead in order to keep them entertained.

You can create a list of your own questions ahead of time or think of them on the spur of the moment, such as “would you rather” questions. Or get a great conversation starter card game which provides more topics to talk about than you can enjoy in one plane flight.

Old-Fashioned Observation Games

Try old-fashioned observation games such as “I Spy” or the Alphabet game to keep kids entertained for a few minutes.

Airplane Scavenger Hunt

Everything on an airplane might be new for a kid if they are not used to flying. Make up a scavenger hunt on your flight, asking your kids to find things such as the aisle, the pilot, a flight attendant, a pretzel bag, etc. Do this from your seat, and you can still find plenty of new items to find. This also gives you an opportunity to explain things about air travel.


Need more ideas for enjoyable air travel? Check out our helpful travel tips: