8 Games for Entertaining Kids on an Airplane

8 Games for Entertaining Kids on an Airplane

No batteries needed for these boredom busters perfect to play 30,000 feet in the sky!


By: Heather Chaet

Picture it: You get settled into your seats on an airplane. You and your brood are headed to visit family for the holidays. You peek in your carry-on bag. Extra snacks? Check. Coloring activities? Check. The kids’ tablets and smartphones loaded with movies and games? Check. Books? Check. You lean back and get ready for a nice, calm flight.

Fast-forward six hours. Due to delays on the tarmac and other woes beyond your control, you are still on that airplane. The batteries on those favorite gadgets are kaput, the contents of the snack bag have dwindled to mere crumbs, and no one feels like reading. You can sense that the chorus of annoying whines will begin at any moment. To tackle that in-flight boredom, try some of these games that don’t require anything but a little imagination and brainpower.

1. Do some ice cube science. Ask the flight attendant for some cups of ice. Think of all the different places you can put an ice cube, and guess which one will melt the fastest. Maybe place one on a napkin, one in a cup by itself, another in a cup with water. Time the melting speeds with your watch, and see who guessed correctly.

2. Put on a performance of The Flying Sock Puppet Theater. Slip your socks on your hands, tap into those creative juices, and see what transpires. Are they zombie socks? Ninja sock warriors? Get Dad involved as the Sock Giant from Footlandia since his socks are super-sized.

3. Rely on the classics. For decades, folks have been playing games like 20 Questions and Hangman while traveling to Grandma’s house. There’s a reason they’ve lasted the test of time: They are the perfect boredom busters.

4. Play plastic utensil pick-up. All you need are a few coins and those little plastic spoons they hand out with the snacks. Spread the quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies on the tray table, and see who can pick up the most amount of money in 30 seconds while only using two spoons.

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5. Change those endings. Take a movie or a book your family has seen recently, and challenge everyone to come up with a different ending.

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6. Attempt swizzle stick origami. Request a handful of those red swizzle sticks. Pass them out to your kids, and see what shapes they can come up with. Join them together as swords for those sock puppets, count how many times you can knot one over and over again, or maybe even make a family of little figures. The possibilities here are endless.

7. Play I Spy: the catalog edition. The traditional I Spy is a little tough to do while keeping your seatbelts buckled. Instead, flip through those catalogs stowed in the pocket in front of you, and use the pictures to create a new way to play the game. Instead of just “I spy something blue,” make it even more fun with hints like, “I spy someone who looks like Aunt Martha,” or “I spy something Grandpa needs for his garden.”

8. Guess what’s in the (airsick) bag. This is a modified version of 20 Questions. You stash something small in an airsick bag. Each person takes turns trying to figure out what it is. Obviously, make sure the bag is, ahem, unused.

How do you keep your kids entertained on a long flight?



Heather Chaet documents her mini parenting successes, epic mommy fails, and everything in between for a plethora (love that word!) of publications and websites such as CafeMom, New York Family, and AdWeek. While her online persona is found at heatherchaet.com, Heather lives in New York City with her film director husband and one insanely curious, cat-obsessed daughter.

Image ©iStock.com/IS_ImageSource



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