Early Literacy in Everyday Places: The Airport

Take flight this summer with some wonderful books and stories to help prepare your little ones for their first trip on an airplane.

Preparing for a flight can be full of stressful moments, But before you leave the home and after you get through the security games, there are a number of games, songs and different activities that you can do with the family to make the trip more exciting.


Where are you going? Use a map or atlas to show your child where your destination is. Spell out the name of the city or country that you are planning to visit. Ask your child to guess how long it will take to get there.

Talk about the words "airplane" and "airport" Sound out the different parts of the word. Say them separately, then together again, have your child repeat. Ask them what these two have in common? Can they think of any other transportation combinations? (trains, train station. Car, carport etc.).

Have your child think of words that rhyme with "plane." Make up a silly poem or song with these words.

How will you get there? Will you take a taxi, use a shuttle or have a friend drive you to the airport? Talk about different transportation methods and explain why you're choosing to fly rather than take the train, ferry or hot air balloon.

What will you need? Making a packing checklist together. Not only will this checklist make sure you have everything you need before leaving the house, it helps involve your child in the entire process. Have them practice their spelling by writing out the list. Make a game out of it and see how long it will take them to find all the items on their checklist to put into their suitcase.


Once you arrive at the airport, you'll probably have to spend some time in line waiting to get through security. Although waiting in lines can be frustrating, a rambunctious toddler will make time pass all the more slowly. Use this time to play some games to pass the time.

Letter Recognition - Ask your child to point out everything they see that begins with the same first letter as your destination. (Computers, Cups, etc if you are flying to Canada).

Vocabulary Building - Play a game of I-Spy, making sure to take turns. This will encourage your child to think about the clues they provide as well as help develop their vocabulary.

Simple songs and fingerplays about things that fly - Keep your child active in line with these songs and fingerplays:

10 Little Airplanes

One little, two little, three little airplanes,
Four little, five little, six little airplanes,
Seven little, eight little, nine little airplanes,
Ten airplanes go Zoom! Zoom!  

If you’re a Plane and You Know It

If you’re a plane and you know it zoom like this zoom, zoom (spread out arms and “fly”)
If you’re a plane and you know it zoom like this zoom, zoom (spread out arms and “fly”)
If you’re a plane and you know it and you really want to show it,
If you’re a plane and you know it zoom like this zoom, zoom (spread out arms and “fly”)


Depending on the length of your flight, make sure you plan a few activities to keep your child engaged. Have books, snacks, coloring sheets, playing cards and a few other favorite activities on hand. Give them a chance to walk around the plane once they can unbuckle their seatbelts. Allow them time to stretch and fidget. Play games of I Spy, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, and different memory games to keep them engaged in their seats. Talk about your flight, who you'll see, what you'll do, what to expect when you land at your destination. This is uninterrupted time with your child. Make the most of it. Talk about your first time on a plane to lessen their worries about being in the air. If possible, grab a window seat for your child to let them catch a bird's eye view of the world beneath them.

Suggested Reading

(Don't forget that these books can count for your 1000 Books Before Kindergarten log.)

Flight 1-2-3 coverPlanes Fly! coverAmazing Airplanes coverFlying coverMy First Trip on an Airplane cover