We love to travel. we don’t get to do it as much as we like or get to go as far as we once did but we still want to instill a love of travel, of exploration and geography in our son. Between the trips we do make, playing with maps and pretend play travel like this I think we are getting to our goal. I like making props because I find they support more complex pretend play, and keep the activity going as well as the questions and learning going as well! It’s easy to sneak in letter and number learning too.
- Gather your materials. You will need some chairs and your child. Really that’s all you need, but we also used some paper,crayons, a marker, painters tape ( protect your chair finishes) our passports , an atlas and a backpack.
- Start by making your boarding passes. We chatted about what to add, I asked him where we should be going and we grabbed the atlas and found our destination and decided on our seats ( letter and number recognition! ).
- He decorated the boarding passes while I made
- The seat numbers and pilot sign.
- And a ticket counter sign.
- Next we arranged the chairs
- Added the seat numbers ( in order so it took some talking and figuring out)
- Played- we acted out getting our tickets at the counter, showing them our passports, saying out name etc..
- Find your seat
- Fill the rest with friends
- Next I pretended to be a flight attendant and passed out snacks- he’s sharing with Brother Bear.
- Have fun by no means should you follow all our steps, make your own but don’t be afraid to use props with your pretend play travel. After we played like this my son played independently with his stuffed animals many many times, acting out things we did as well as many new scenarios.
Books for Pretend Play Travel!
Planes by Byron Barton is a basic little board book that kept my son’s attention as a 14 month old long enough to read it. It’s bold colors and basic text are perfect for introducing planes to babies and young toddlers. We used to read this before going on trips with our son when he was tiny and always took it with us as well.
The Little Airplane by Lois Lenski is the exact opposite to the previous book. I have been around airplanes all my life and I learned more about them from this picture book than I have from anywhere else before. To say this book is detailed is an understatement , it goes step by step how a prop plane works, and what a pilot does during the flight. The retro pictures are both a favorite of mine and my son’s, they take you back and make you feel like you are in another place and time. This book will be too long for young toddlers, there is a lot of text.
Angela’s Airplane by Robert Munsch captures children’s fantasies about flying planes and adds in a cautionary tale about what could happen if the fantasy became reality. Angela finds her way onto a plane and starts pushing buttons, before she knows it she is in the air alone. The plane crashes but she is ok, and promises to never fly another plane. Do you think she keeps that promise? My son adores this book and while you may think that the crash would be scary for kids it’s not , the ridiculousness of a 5 year old flying a plane makes the crash equally as fictional though effective in opening a dialogue about touching buttons you shouldn’t!This post contains affiliate links
The Activity Mom says
Love it! Our hallway is frequently a train or bus with similarly lined up chairs, but we never even thought of an airplane. Will have to give it a try. Thanks!
I am a stay at home mom with a 3 year old and 2 year old. I love all your activities and we frequent your site for lots of great ideas. I have to admit, I am sometimes uptight and don’t do any painting projects….I’m a little nervous. I am trying to be better and would like to try some painting, I know my kids would love it. Any help/suggestions????? What kind of paint do you buy???
Holli- I think you are in good company, I get asked this question all the time. If the weather is nice paint outside if you are worried about mess, get cheap shower curtains or sheets at the dollar store for drop cloths. I use crayola washable kids paint, it really IS washable. Wear old clothes ( you too) so if paint does get on them it’s no biggie!
oh, that’s brilliant. We’re going on a holiday this year and this would be a terrific “dry run”.
What a fun idea!
Katie L. says
Wow! What a great idea!! My husband and I love to travel, but with two little ones who can barely stand a 45 minute car ride, we just aren’t up for an 8 hour plane ride! So, this would be the perfect way to take them abroad! I think it’d be fun to go all out with this and make big props like the eiffle tower, big ben, an ocean, etc out of large cardboard! I think we’ll start taking monthly trips now – thanks so much for sharing all your fantastic ideas!
We are in desperate need of a vacation! I think this may have to do for now. GREAT idea!
My Bilingual Boys says
Love this idea! Tomorrow is Mexican Independence Day so we just might fly to Mexico.
Wandering Educators says
such fun – i LOVE this. you could move to trains, next.;)
We like to play bus and train but it would be fun to do this as a plane. Then we could pack the things we always bring on the plane–DS’s backpack, pillow and airplane blanket.
One book about travel that my son likes is “Postcards from Kiwi and Pear”. It has flaps and a world map with stickers (Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China, Macchu Picchu, etc.). We have a lot of fun with it.
The pirate books look great, by the way. Thanks for always posting such helpful resources.
This brought back memories! Every time my mom would clean the kitchen floor, we would line up the chairs in the living room and make a train. I’ve also made trains with preschoolers using cardboard boxes for each child to decorate for individual cars. It’s a blast to watch them climb in and out, talking about their different destinations and adventures!
This is fantastic! Such a simple idea, yet very entertaining. I tried today it with my boy and he loved it. We recently were on vacations in California, where we went by plane, so now he is all about planes. I found this game in a perfect time! Thank you, Allison!
Hi! I would love to pretend to book the South Carolina Airlines and give the card and boarding pass.