Family travel: 5 Ways Cheerios Can Help on a Long Flight




Sometimes I can’t get over how much stuff we pack to entertain the kids on trips. It’s as if we’re going into an emergency bunker rather than boarding a flight.

It’s easy to forget how the simplest things are often best when it comes to entertaining young ones—and I’d been feeling like we needed some new (space-efficient) ways to get through a flight.

Enter Cheerios. We always pack Cheerios.

Here are five ways to use what you surely already have in your kids’ snack cups to get through a long flight this holiday season.


Start with a small travel case (I chose one from here) and fill it with a few simple items:

  • Cheerios, of course
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Colored tape (I like washi)
  • Tweezers (look for the old-fashioned slant-tip kind, no sharp points
  • Small collapsible box (a raisin box or the travel-sized Cheerios box would work)
  • Deck of Cards and/or Alphabet Cards (see below for how I made my own)

Add xeroxed Find-It pages (a Where’s Waldo-like selection, see below)—or just bring along the book!



1. Go fishing
Using tweezers can be tricky for a preschooler. This provides just enough of a challenge to keep it interesting, and every success is met with a reward. (They get to eat what they fish out!)

Take your empty raisin or cereal box and punch a hole in the center or one side. If you’re doing this on the spot, a key or a pen work well for punching through the paper, and then I just wiggled a finger through to make it a bit wider. It has to be big enough to pull a Cheerio through, but just how big you make the hole is up to you (and might depend on the age of the child).

Place some Cheerios inside, and have them use the tweezers to fish out Cheerios.



2. Thread it and Wear it
Pipe cleaners make a flight-appropriate alternative to needle and thread for your own take on jewelry making.



3. Card Shark
There are really two options here, depending on whether your child is more interested in letters or numbers. One game uses a deck of playing cards, the other a set of alphabet cards.

For numbers:
Flip over a card from the deck.
If it’s a number, ask them to count it out by laying cheerios on each icon (heart, spade, club, or diamond). That’s how many they can eat!
But if it’s a face card, the other player (that’s me!) gets three.

For letters:
Draw on or add vinyl alphabet lettering to basic index cards, and ask your child to trace the letters with Cheerios.
Bonus—Add pictures starting with each letter (like Airplane for A, Bicycle for B) and use Cheerios in place of windows, tires, and the like.


4. Tic-Tac-Toe
An old standby, Tic-Tac-Toe starts becoming an option for most children around the age of four. Hudson, at three, is still a bit young to try to win by getting three in a row, but he comes to his own conclusions that are equally entertaining (like ‘whoever can fill in the grid first wins’). Over time, the game gains complexity; kids come to classify X’s and O’s spatially and numerically—all while taking turns.

To make my pieces distinct from Hudson’s, I simply bit the O’s in half.



5. Find It
Where’s Waldo-style find-it books are just starting to become interesting to Hudson. We especially love this 1001 Bugs to Spot for its colorful scenes and counting component. However, when a page asks him to find five butterflies in a garden scene, it’s hard to recall which he’s already counted. Placing a Cheerio on each one as its located makes the hunt more rewarding.

You can bring the entire book along (and they have 1001 Things to Spot books about lots of other topics, too!), but I’ve found it works best to color xerox some spreads so that they lay flat on the tray table.

Hand out only as many Cheerios as there are items to find. For example, five Cheerios for five butterflies.

Ask them to cover each item as they go, until they’ve used all the Cheerios in that round.

Too advanced? There are also Cheerios-specific play books

made with a lay-flat binding, which were a big hit with Hudson when he was a toddler.


And when in doubt? Snack.

You’ll be there before you know it.


This post was sponsored by Cheeriosmade from wholegrain oats to provide energy. Thank you for supporting Hither & Thither. 

P.S. Tips for flying with babies and toddlers, and What to pack. Also, some healthy debate about kids on planes.

Related posts:

Travel Guides

Browse By Category