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Long flights don't have to mean nonstop screen time. Dole out new playthings every hour to keep kids interested until it's time to land. Consider wrapping the toys in tissue paper with lots of tape to make the big reveal that much more exciting.
By Amy DiLaura
Personalized playing cards
Divide any deck into small sets for young ones, and you've got a memory game. Budding card sharks can learn basic skills like counting and, of course, taking turns, from mini hands of anything from Go Fish to Old Maid. Personalizing the cards with family pics makes the deck more fun.
Finger-twisting crochet kits
All-in-one kits with assorted colors of yarn plus instructions make setup easy. But you can also prep yourself with how-to videos on YouTube and pack any kind of yarn or string you have on hand. You'll be amazed at the bracelets, headbands, and scarves that even tiny fingers can craft.
Hangman hits the road
This travel-friendly version of the classic game includes a dry-erase board to write and rewrite the mystery words. Flippable letters are anchored, so you won't have to scrounge under seats for stray parts.
Best-ever activity book
Many kids love activity books and will happily sit for hours going through the pages. With the same wit evident in author Mo Willems's classic book Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, this book guides users through folding a paper airplane, making a paper microphone to sing into, and writing a puppet show.
Like the love child of a pipe cleaner and a candle, these sticky strips of yarn are covered in nontoxic wax and can be molded into anything. With 144 strips in dazzling colors, you'll be across three time zones before your child even notices.
Sticky-tacky tape activities
Kids can use the rolls of brightly colored tape to follow the pictures in the accompanying book, or free-form it. The tape is reusable, so it may keep them busy on the return flight, too.
Roll all nine cubes at once, then craft a tale to connect the images. Even pre-readers can get in on the action, because the cubes have pictures instead of words.
A water-powered sketch pad
Fill the Aquadoodle pen with water and it draws in red or blue, but only on the included mat – so no need to pack paper, and no leaky marker stains, melted crayons, or broken pencils at the bottom of your carry-on.
Pocket-size building blocks
These Tegu building blocks slip easily into a backpack or purse. The felt pouch and hardwood cubes are pretty and eco-friendly, and the blocks are magnetic, so you'll never leave one behind.
Carry-on creativity kit
This kit from Crayola is its own art table, with an activity book and four markers. Like all items from the Color Wonder series, these markers color only on special paper – not on seats, tray tables, or siblings' faces.