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DIY Fine Motor Activity Using Airplane Galley Supplies

Posted by on December 16, 2014

Have you ever been on a flight where nothing you have is keeping your child entertained? Maybe they are overtired or not feeling well, or maybe you had a long delay and already through all the things you brought to keep them occupied. Here’s something you can make with just two items from the galley. My nearly-two-year-old, John, played with this 3 times in one flight, for 15 minutes each time. That’s 45 minutes I was able to keep a two year old happily entertained with just one item! WIN!


-One or Two Foam Cups

-Coffee Stir-Sticks


Set Up:

Poke some holes in the bottom of the foam cup using the stir-stick. If your child is younger, you can circle the stick to widen the holes. If your child is older and has more advanced fine motor skills, then keep the holes just the size of the stick.


I tore the bottom of another foam cup off to create a cup to catch the sticks as they are pushed through. You could do this or use a plastic cup or just let the sticks drop onto the seat or into your hand.



Hand the cup to your child and give him the stir-sticks, one at a time, as he discovers the joy of poking the stir-stick through the hole in the cups. Trust me, kids love this. It is great practice for their fine-motor skills, and it is so simple.


For Older Kids:

Maybe your kid isn’t a toddler and this is just too simple. I had a four year old passenger on of my flights from Los Angeles to New York recently. He and his parents had traveled already from Australia to Los Angeles, so as you can imagine he was exhausted and bored. I gave him the coffee cup and a few stir-sticks, suggesting he might have fun poking the holes in the base. I encouraged him to try to think of other ways to use the materials as well.


He played around for a while poking holes in the cup with the straws. That kept him occupied for a while. He poked holes around the sides of the cups too, creating kind of a luminary.


(You’ll need to monitor your child. Jabbing the cup might make a loud noise that would be irritating to the other passengers, but making the holes with gentle force isn’t noisy.)


Then he got really creative and began tearing the cup into unique shapes. He had a specific design in mind and asked for a few more cups. I love to see creative minds at work!  All I did was supply the cups and sticks and he must have spent at least an hour with his project.


It might look like trash to you, but these foam pieces are actually very important supplies for a creative mosaic designed by one clever little artist Cloud Surfer. He asked for a bag so he could take home his carefully shaped foam pieces. He planned to paste them to a paper when he got the chance. Don’t you just love the creativity?!

As a flight attendant I have made this little “toy” for about 10 young kids now. Every one of them has enjoyed playing with this simple set up. When you’re on the plane with kids, even a small diversion of their attention can help pass the time. This simple cup is now my go-to toy for my son, John, when he gets bored. I now ask for a couple of cups and a few stir-sticks when the flight attendants come by for the first beverage service. I put them in my bag at my feet and just keep them ready for the time when none of his toys are interesting.

What do you think? Would this activity entertain your child? Let us know if you try it and if it’s fun to them!