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Travelling with kids: 10 kits to pack

Instead of shushing the kids up with touch screen devices during your next trip, here are 10 craft and activity kits to keep in mind

 (Photo: Hizwan Hamid)
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid

Five Little Forest Animals, RM39.90

At first sight, this set from Djeco is indeed beautiful but lacklustre: kids only need to punch out the design and glue it together? That’s it? The recommended age range is seven to 13 but we think this is one for younger kids to put together with their parents. Your choice of glue is critical. Our attempts to put together our owl with a regular glue stick came unstuck several times. Either help the kids to use fast drying superglue or employ paperclips judiciously until your regular glue dries. The result is a colourful and delightfully twee owl that will withstand (very gentle) play or work as an alternative to the traditional tree topper. Leah O’Hearn

 (Photo: Hizwan Hamid)
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid

Thumbprint Portraits, RM59.90

Written by the very delightful artist Sarah Neuburger (who’s also behind the small object), Thumbprint Portraits gives you 30 pages of 15 different scenes (one for you to keep, the other to give away). Along with learning fun road trip facts, kids get to stretch their imagination muscles and swipe their little thumbs in ink instead of across screens. Guide the younger ones to press tiny thumb prints all over the book with scenes of travels by the beach, in the car, etc. Pages can be torn out with a 'this masterpiece is created by _______' on the back – perfect as little personalised gifts. Here’s an idea: frame them up for the grandparents. Joyce Koh

 (Photo: Hizwan Hamid)
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid

Kao Note (Face Notebook) by Tupera Tupera, RM50.90

How would a bulb of garlic look if it had blue eyes and fluttery eyelashes? What if we add realistic red lips to the toilet brush? Creative Japanese duo Tupera Tupera has created this book of 52 faces and six pages of stickers. The book is bedecked in bright colours and creative facial parts – pink noses, monster teeth, horns, pirate beards, bow ties, and even stubble. As adults, we enjoyed this for its creative aesthetics, but the kids love it more for the opportunities to create weird and ugly things. For the younger ones, give them a bit of guidance to start things off. Soon enough, they’ll be sticking eyes and noses like a pro. Joyce Koh

 (Photo: Hizwan Hamid)
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid

Cowboy & Co puppets, RM39.00

The Cowboy & Co puppets kit comes with perforated sheets to punch out and fasten together to make three movable puppets. The kit’s suggested age range is six to 11, but we think it’s also suitable for four to five year olds to assemble with their parents. Colouring the puppets can be time consuming and tiresome, so if your kids tend to get restless easily, give them marker pens – it’s faster and the template sheets are thick enough that ink won’t bleed through. While removing the pieces from the sheets is easy, be careful when you’re poking holes in the pieces as those tend to tear. The end result is cute, amusing puppets whose floppy limbs will keep your kids entertained for the rest of the trip. Mira Amran

 (Hizwan Hamid)
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Hizwan Hamid

50 things to do on a car journey, RM25.73

'Are we there yet?' is the dreaded question on all long distance car rides. Not anymore, with this affordable set of activities and ideas to banish boredom on all car trips hereafter. The palm sized kit is also great as a stocking stuffer. Written by Lucy Bowman and Louie Stowell, these games seem to be geared towards the American audience (car plate numbers, for instance), but there’s nothing a creative parent can’t tweak to suit the situation. Just choose a glossy card at random and then follow the instructions. Our favourite? The 'sitting statues' card.  Joyce Koh

 (Photo: Hizwan Hamid)
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid

The Onion’s Great Escape, RM92.70

Written by the talented award-winning children’s book writer Sara Fenelli, The Onion’s Great Escape is a beautiful large format book that is printed on satisfyingly smooth and thick paper. Kids and parents alike can enjoy the designs and together discuss the philosophical questions raised by the book. For one: ‘If a chicken eats a worm and you eat the chicken, did you eat the worm?’ If all car passengers take turns sharing their thoughts on these funny yet deep statements, your journey can pass very quickly indeed. Turn page by page to follow the onion's adventures, and tear along the perforated lines of the book to ‘free’ the onion within. When you’re done with the book, you have a little paper onion doll for your kid to play with. Joyce Koh

 (Hizwan Hamid)
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Hizwan Hamid

Origami fortune tellers, RM35.00

Do you have memories of these little fortune tellers (also known as ‘paper birds’) in your childhood? Djeco gave it a twist by printing adorable designs on 20 pieces of origami paper for the paper birds. The folding instructions are simple enough for kids aged six to 11, but here comes the catch: instead of fortune telling, there’s a pack of stickers with challenges on it. Ask a friend to give you a random number and you must open and close the paper bird that amount of times. The friend has to carry out the challenge indicated. You can also make up your own version of challenges for more entertainment. Joyce Koh

 (Photo: Hizwan Hamid)
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid

The 10 Best Games in the World, RM61.25

What game did the Aztecs play? Which country did Jungle Chess come from? Why did the Germans enjoy playing Barricade? Kids can have fun while learning about other cultures. We think that it’s pretty cool to have 10 games sandwiched in a book. Compiled by Angels Navarro, The 10 Best Games in the World is made of high quality thick card board, and includes 10 different board games, a fact file of each game’s country of origin, the origins of the game, multi-coloured playing pieces and a die. Rules are explained clearly for each game, as well as information about how many players are needed. Most games range from two to four players, and take up to 15 to 45 minutes. Perfect for rainy days. Joyce Koh

 (Photo: Hizwan Hamid)
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid

Jumping Jacks, RM35.00

Designed by Peggy Nille, these jumping jack dinosaurs are for the impatient little ones. Once the plane takes off, let the kids remain quiet in their seats by colouring in the patterns on the dinosaurs. Most of the paper puppet is already printed in bright colours so there won’t be much work for the kids to do. When they’re done colouring their triceratops or stegosaurus, help them out with little fasteners (it comes in the kit) to make fun moving puppets they can play with. You’ll have to put up with the mini dinosaur roars though. Suitable for four year olds. Joyce Koh

 (Photo: Hizwan Hamid)
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Photo: Hizwan Hamid

Paper Animal Sculptures, RM50.39

Produced by Kokuyo of quirky Japanese children's book fame, these paper animal sculptures are too cute to resist. With five types of animals and a tree in its pages, there’s also a sticker sheet at the back with eyes and shapes for kids to decorate to their hearts’ desire. Instructions are in Japanese but the diagrams are straightforward enough for kids to figure it out on their own. Crayons or marker pens are needed to decorate these paper beasts. The little animal sculptures are printed on stiff paper and the neatly interlocking design means no glue is needed. Kokuyo also produces another range of sculptures on a transportation theme as well as a paper plane range. Joyce Koh

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