Today I’m sharing my ultimate kids activity pack, perfect for traveling or whenever you want to entertain your kids in a small space!
If you’re like me and have kids who won’t sit still, these activity pack ideas will be super helpful. I have her three young children (ages 7, 5, and 2) and we travel a lot. Since we travel a lot on planes and long distances in cars, we’ve created these DIY travel activity packs to keep you busy, entertained, and quiet for hours at a time.
My kids play with it on long trips, but it’s also useful when going out to eat on holidays or in situations where they might get bored!
My eldest is 7, so he’s gotten pretty good at keeping himself entertained on long trips (enjoying unlimited screen time is a dream come true for him!), but my energetic 5-year-old My son and my toddler are just a handful!
Let me introduce you to my kids activity pack….
I first discovered similar children’s activity packs on Pinterest. This one uses a zippered binder and I adapted that idea to suit my kids and budget.
Most of the Busy Books and Busy Binder I’ve come across were created for educational purposes, such as teaching children the alphabet or animal names. My children’s activity pack includes some educational activities, but the main aim is to keep children happy, entertained and playing independently for as long as possible!
I’m based in the UK so I’ve recommended buying everything to go into my busy binder from UK stores, but many of these items are very common and can be purchased from Amazon, Stationery You can buy it at stores, affordable stores (such as Dollar Tree). I think the trick is finding a good binder. Then everything else will fall into place!
This children’s activity pack can be customized according to your child’s age and interests. You can create her Busy Binder on a real budget, or you can go crazy and create something amazing. Here are some ideas for creating kids activity packs on a budget.
What is a Busy Binder?
Busy Binder is a compressible folder filled with activities for kids to keep them entertained on long journeys.
Using compressible folders is a great way to keep all of your child’s activities together and prevent everything from getting lost, cluttered, or falling apart. I find it much easier to use folders and the kids find it so much fun!
If you shove everything into a bag, things can get lost or forgotten, making things a little disorganized. Put it all in a binder and the kids can have it on their lap and be happy for hours and barely have to move. There’s no need to rummage through your bag when you’re on a plane or strapped into a car seat.
If you can keep your child’s activity pack a secret until they board the plane, they’ll love it and earn you extra brownie points!
You can fill a binder with a plastic wallet and place activities inside that wallet. If you have paper-based activities (like drawing or coloring), put them in your wallet or cut a hole and insert them in a folder.
There are also pockets and pencil cases with binder holes, so you won’t have to put them in a folder and lose them.
I used three different styles of binders for each child to show them how they could create binders in different ways.
This kids activity pack can also be made without a binder, but putting everything together in a binder seems like something really exciting for kids.
How do you create a Busy Binder?
To create a Busy Binder kids activity pack, you’ll need:
- Binder/Folder (suggested below)
- some plastic wallets
- Activity booklet (information about printing your own activity book further down)
- coloring book
- sticker book
- crayon, pencil, or pen
- small toys
What binder should I use?
You can use any type of binder you like, from basic folders you probably already have at home to fancy zippered conference folders with different sleeves, wallets, and compartments.
It’s easy to get carried away and spend a fortune on airplane kids activity packs. We’ve tried to stay within a reasonable budget, but it’s completely up to you. If it’s something you use regularly, I’d say it’s money well spent to avoid a toddler meltdown or kid whining on a long trip. You can use it over and over again, so when your child outgrows it, you’ll probably end up using boring adult binders. It also makes for a great start to the holiday, as the kids are so excited to sit on the plane and open their activity packs.
When looking for a binder, look for one with the following features:
- Comes with a zipper so things won’t fall out
- Hard case or clipboard feature allows your child to lean against the binder and draw
- Internal pocket for pens and crayons
- Comes with a handle, making it easy for children to carry
Here are some options for different binders….
This rose gold ring binder is perfect for little girls.
I ordered this for Alba (2 years old) and it’s a really good option for toddlers who want toys as well as paper and pens. This is much deeper than a regular binder, so it has space for toys as well as organized sections for paper activities.
This is an affordable option and comes in purple or blue. There are no pockets or compartments inside, but you can put everything in the plastic wallet.
This doesn’t actually have ring binder functionality, but it has so many compartments that I don’t think it’s a problem. I use it for my eldest son who is a little more organized! I used it as a laptop case before, so I’m reusing something I already had. They come in a wide range of colors and patterns and are very convenient.
IKEA Mala portable drawing case
One of the best options for creating a kids activity pack for airplanes is IKEA’s Mala portable drawing case. It’s only £10 if you go to IKEA or order online! It’s actually on sale for £18 on Amazon, but you’re better off ordering it directly from IKEA as IKEA’s delivery charge is only £4.
What should I put in my kids activity pack and where should I buy it?
We’ve found The Works to be the best place to buy activity packs for your kids. There are lots of options and you can all order online, with free shipping on orders over £30 and next day delivery for a little extra (I think I paid £2 extra).
Amazon has lots of great options too!
Sticker books are recommended for young children. All sticker books too! A really good option is the Galt Reusable Sticker Book which can be used over and over again.
My daughter also likes scratch art (it gets a bit messy so keep one on hand to sweep the scratched stuff into a cup!)
I think clay is better than Play-Doh because it doesn’t stain easily.
Watercolor books are also a great no-mess option.
I’m thinking of adding a tablet as well. If you don’t have a tablet, the Kindle Fire is perfect for your child. You’ll want to choose one with plenty of storage space so you can pack plenty of movies and TV shows.
We have these headphones for all of our kids and they love them.
Can I create my own activity booklets?
Activity books such as word searches, dot-to-dot, spot-the-differences and coloring games are available at many discount hardware stores including Home Bargains, PoundShop, The Works, The Range and Wilko.
However, if you have access to a printer, you can print them yourself using templates from Etsy.
If you go to Etsy and search for “Busy Book Printable activity,” you’ll see lots of options.
If you already have a printer, paper, and ink, this is a much cheaper way to fill your Busy Binder with activities. Especially if she has more than one child, because you can print multiple copies using the same download.
What is the best activity for a toddler on a plane?
There is never a “best activity for toddlers” because every child is different. Two of my children, hers, loved to sit and color when they were toddlers, but her third child could barely hold a crayon until she was 4 years old. (He is now good at drawing. He doesn’t need to worry if he has a child who doesn’t draw!)
In my experience, sticker books are a great game for young children, especially on airplanes. It won’t be messy (unless you stick stickers on it and start going wild!) and will keep you busy for years. Many sticker book activity packs require children to find the correct sticker and place it in a specific spot, encouraging them to take their time and think things through.
Activities for toddlers on the plane include:
- Stain-resistant (avoid felt-tip pens, paint, and glue)
- Avoid too many small parts (avoid Legos, otherwise you’ll spend the whole flight picking them up from the floor)
- Don’t make too much noise (avoid toys that repeat the same irritating phrase over and over again!)
- No batteries required (and they won’t run out quickly!)
- Not too bulky or heavy
Our favourite activities for toddlers on a plane include:
- Clay (not messy like clay, just be careful where it rolls)
- scratch art
- sticker book
- Find the xxxx (Slightly similar to Find the xxxx, but different content)
- iPad show
- iPad games
- drawing and coloring on iPad
- Small toys such as cars, dwarfs, dolls, stuffed animals, etc
- Arts & Crafts Pack
And last but not least, don’t forget to take off, land, eat snacks, go to the bathroom, and go up and down aisles. Realistically, these are the activities that take the most time.
I think the only people who want to get on a plane and have long lines for the bathroom are parents of young children. Just standing in line, chatting with people, people-watching, and stretching your legs can be great entertainment!