Keeping a Toddler Happily Busy on a Long Flight
Regular readers are probably tired of hearing about our upcoming trip, but it’s finally almost here, so I thought I would share some of the things I’m packing to keep 23 month old Annabelle happy during our 26 hours of travel. Fortunately 8 of those hours will be made up of layovers, so running around and using up energy should fill the time quite easily. For the other 18, here’s what we have:
Homemade Felt Activities
I had so many more ideas for mini felt boards, but these two were the only ones that actually reached completion in the midst of everything else we’ve been doing to prepare. Both are on quarter sheets of felt. The first is probably a bit old for Annabelle right now, but I’m hoping it’s interesting anyway. I used a compass to make half circles, varying in size by one centimeter, in the colors of the rainbow. When stacked in order, you get what’s pictured at left. I didn’t intend to make an entire scene, but after I finished the rainbow, that empty space was just calling for something, so I made the little sun and cloud. All pieces are fully removable.
The board on the right is a simple sorting exercise. I used fabric glue to secure one square and one triangle as a control. The rest are loose, to be sorted into a line beneath the first. I used a textured felt to create a richer sensorial experience.
I also have stickers galore, all depicting real things, so they should be interesting to name and discuss in the tough moments, keeping Annabelle in good spirits if needed. My secret weapon for the flight home is a sheet of stickers made in a photo booth that are actually recent photos of Annabelle, the daddy, and me. Those should be extra exciting.
I also have plenty of fresh, white paper and a brand new drawstring bag of beeswax crayons.
I have packed just a few books that I think will be of interest. Some are new, and the others are old favorites that have been tucked away for a while. I loved Lyle’s idea of bringing along finger puppets to act out a favorite story, and had planned to make some using felt, but just plain ran out of time. I’ll have to hang onto that suggestion for our next long flight, which we’ll be taking before we know it! I purchased one new book especially for the trip: Gabriella’s Song, which is set in Venice. Annabelle has been walking around repeating its opening line, “Ah, Venice!” and I think it’s getting both of us more excited. I also picked up a small Italian picture dictionary, which we’ve been reading for a couple of weeks now.
From left to right, there’s a magnetic book with wild animal magnets to match1, a magnetic fishing game, an I spy bag, and the Melissa and Doug Magnetic Farm Hide and Seek2. I also purchased the Plan Toys Classic Airplane3, since I figure you can’t fly without a toy airplane, and one small storybook and animal set from Green Start.
Not pictured is a small drawstring bag filled with a few of Annabelle favorite, and smallest Schleich animals. I also tossed in these sets of sorting cards that I had stashed away from my days in the classroom. I don’t offer cards often, because at Annabelle’s age, I prefer she have more concrete items to manipulate and play/work with, but these take up virtually no space and I figured the photos alone might be of interest when something new is in order, if not the actual sorting activity.
For the most part, we have chosen things that are relatively inexpensive, and almost everything is new. I like that it’s all gender neutral, because I can lighten our load for the return trip if anything turns out to be a flop for Annabelle, but is attractive to the handsome toddler we’re visiting.
So that’s what we have planned. I would love to hear your best ideas for portable toddler activities. What do your children like to do on the go?
P.S. Please forgive me if I take a bit longer to respond to and return comments this week. We’ll be headed out shortly, so my participation will lag a bit behind the usual, but I’ll be back!
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- Thanks to Charise for this great idea! She brought the On The Farm version along on a recent trip with her toddler, but we have plenty of farm animal books and figures as it is, so I went with the wild animals instead. ↩
- I have written before about lead in paint on Melissa and Doug toys. Following that, a friend and I both tested some of our own toys for lead and the result was negative. I still don’t buy them often, but they do make several things that serve a purpose for us and I don’t see comparable items from other companies. So, now that Annabelle is more or less finished mouthing things, I have picked up a few of their toys. I’m not sure how comfortable I am with that decision, but I do think this will come in handy during our travels. ↩
- When it comes to wooden toys, this is a company I feel perfectly comfortable supporting. We have many things from them, and I love every one. ↩