For Babies:

* any object that’s bright and new!
* rattles of all sorts
* music-makers
* a few pieces of mega-blocks
* magnetic stick-together blocks
* toys of interesting shapes
* pop-up toys
* safe plastic mirror

Older Babies and Toddlers

* bubbles (to use in the airport, during flight changes)
* balls (for rest areas during car trips)
* nested containers
* sets of things to put into containers
* things that fit into other things
* Busy Boxes with levers, bells, moving parts
* board books
* simple speaking toys: baby pushes button, toy speaks (not too loud!)
* small wind-up toys
* blanket, stuffed animal

Pre-Schoolers

* picture books
* stickers and activity books
* crayons (preferably square so they don’t roll!), felt pens
* lap-sized wipe-off easels
* small mirrors
* finger puppets
* costume jewelry
* pop-up books
* post-it notes, scotch tape
* masking tape! kids have fun just sticking it, unsticking it, etc.
* paper punch, stapler (careful!)
* wrapped presents, or snacks – even triple-wrapped
* inexpensive sets of plastic figures (animals, dinosaurs, astronauts…)
* magnetic letters & metal tin
* miniature wind-up train and track (my son’s all-time favorite)

Pre-Schoolers to Grade 2’s

* activity books
* tattoos that press on with a wet cloth
* stick-on play sets
* travel-size Magna- Doodle, Etch-a-Sketch
* threading sets (pictures with yarn)
* felt boards
* Travel Desk sets
* Leap Frog Leapster- fun games, and kids learn, too.
* small magnetic puzzles
* small wind-up toys
* Go-Fish cards
* silly putty
* colored beeswax (to model with – won’t stick to stuff)
* slappy-hands (a sticky toy)
* walkman, with story/ song audiocassettes
* Pokemon cards and books
* “micro-machines”: really small cars, sometimes sold in portable sets
* miniature worlds: little houses with figures, hand-sized playsets
* yarn: finger knitting, or simple knitting
* a “story bag” – write phrases on scraps of paper; pull one out of the bag, start a story, pull out another one…

Older Kids’ Fun Stuff

* real books!
* Archie comics (still the same, still popular)
* activity kits by the creative Klutz Press, such as Glove Compartment Games
* blank paper, for playing Hangman and Xs & Os
* regular deck of cards
* travel-size Monopoly, Sorry, Snakes’n’ Ladders, Battleships
* Speak’n’Spell
* miniature chess
* Mastermind: a great game for age seven and up– travel-size available
* card sets (such as medieval-style “Magic– The Gathering” IF kids are into this)
* small Lego sets (–store the pieces in Ziploc bags)
* hand-held toys with the sound turned off
* small 3D puzzle sets
* Walkman and portable cassette or CD players
* Game Boy-type handheld electronic games
* BrainQuest

Also for older kids: visit a good kids’ bookstore, and check the non-book items: most children’s bookstores these days have expanded their inventory to include high-quality games, such as card-based games or puzzle games that are perfect to tote along on a trip.

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