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Entertaining an Eight Year Old on a Flight

Entertaining an Eight Year Old on a Flight

Kitty is at a weird age.  She’s not really a little kid, and she’s not really a big kid, and all of the information pertaining to entertaining kids on a long flight seems to be for those groups.  So what about an 8 year old?  Here’s what I’m planning on bringing to keep Kitty entertained.

Phone with a downloaded movie and music:  We love our Amazon Kindle Fire for Kids, but it’s 90 percent useless without wifi, and it’s on board storage is so small we’d have to delete many of the apps on it to make room for a movie.  This is why we save our old phones.  Nate just recently upgraded, and so we will take his old Android phone and download a movie from Google Play onto it.  Kitty has her eye on the new Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast movie, and that should keep her entertained for at least 90 minutes, a good chunk of time.

Even if you spring for in air wifi (it usually runs about $15 for a coast-to-coast flight), it’s not powerful enough for streaming.  Any videos you want to watch have to be downloaded to your device.  A portable DVD player or a laptop with a DVD drive are good alternatives here.

Travel games:  While I will make sure that the phone has some offline games on it, it’s always good to bring some actual games. The novelty factor here usually keeps kids entertained for longer than you’d think.  There are pocket electronic versions of games like Yahtzee and 20 Q,  but I love tiny version of tabletop games like Travel Boggle (I actually have a keychain version of this that seems to be discontinued) and Trouble.  Card games like UNO are fun as well.

Activity books/Printables: Kitty loves word searches, so I will bring along a book of kids’ word searches that I found at the dollar store. You can also find word searches, Spot the Difference, Connect the Dots, Mazes and all kinds of activity pages on the internet.  Disney recently sent me some activity sheets for the release of Cinderella and since she enjoyed that movie, I’ll print those out.  I’ve also made them available for you to download.

Snacks: I always bring nut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese crackers, fruit snacks and some M&Ms. Having an economically purchased selection of treats makes it less tempting to buy a $5 tiny tin of Pringles when the Flight Attendants come around.

Water bottle: Bring it empty and fill it in a water fountain after security. It takes a long time for the Flight Attendants to get to the back of the plane (which I swear is where they stick all the children), and the cabin air can be drying. I’ve had Kitty cry on an airplane because she just wanted some water.

Blanket and Travel Pillow:  These are MUSTS.  It makes it so much easier to convince a tired kid to try and sleep when you can make them as comfortable as possible.  Blankets are not as available on planes as they once were and communal blankets are kind of icky anyway.  Bring something familiar from home that your kiddo can cuddle up to. You could even go buy a piece of polar fleece with a print they like.  Polar fleece is warm, soft and doesn’t fray, so you don’t even have to hem it.

Hopefully, with all of these contingencies I can keep my not-really-small-but-not-quite-big-kid entertained and comfortable!

Downloadable Printables:

Cinderella Spot the Differenes

Cinderella Word Search

Cinderella Connect The Dots

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Is it Worth Your Allowance – Nuclear Throne

Is it Worth Your Allowance – Nuclear Throne

Is it Worth Your Allowance? Is a weekly column written by 14 year old Nate. Nate reviews inexpensive games and lets your geeklings know if it’s worth spending their hard earned allowance on. Have a game to suggest? You can email Nate here.

Game: Nuclear Throne
Genre: Roguelike, shooter, indie
Cost: $12.99
Developer: Vlambeer
To buy this game go to this link: http://store.steampowered.com/app/242680/

Nuclear Throne is a top down roguelike shooter set in a post apocalyptic world full of mutants where you have to fight hordes of monsters, Once you kill all the enemies in a level a portal will open which brings you to the next level. There are 15 levels of different post apocalyptic settings like mutant infested labs, frozen cities and more that you must get through to reach The Nuclear Throne (the main boss), but after you defeat it the game goes on getting harder and harder until you die. After you die the game restarts and all the levels change shape because they are randomly generated (the randomly generated part is what makes it a roguelike).

The game has 12 characters that you choose from, each with their own special ability. Some of the characters are Rebel, Robot ,Eyes and more but my favorite character is Fish.  As his name implies,Fish is a fish. His ability allows him to do a roll, and he starts with more bullets. If you have collected enough uranium while playing,  you be able to get an mutation (upgrade). When you beat The Nuclear Throne you will get a ultra mutation (really good upgrade). Each character has two ultra mutations to choose from Fish’s ultra mutations confiscate and gun warrant give you different powerful attributes and each character gets at least two to choose from when you defeat the Throne.

The game has an 16 bit art style that I like a lot, the “sprites” (character animations) are so smooth that they look alive but still keeping the retro look of 16 bit. I recommend this game for ages 10 and up.

Overall,  my final rating for this game is 7/10 and I definitely think it’s worth your allowance.

Mom/Editor’s Note:  Nate had a hard time summarizing game play on this one.  Each time you play the game it randomizes certain features, so it’s different every time.  Here’s the info from the publisher and a link to buy:

Convention Tips and Etiquette

Convention Tips and Etiquette

Last week I had a chance to participate in a Seattle AntiFreeze Event at the Museum of History and Industry.  This fun monthly event features people from different Seattle communities sharing some of the things that makes Seattle special. I am on the Board of GeekGirlCon and I presented with Board President, Kristine Hassell.  We talked about what makes GGC special and how Seattle, with it’s plethora of conventions, is a great place to be a geek!

Emerald City Comicon, is coming up soon and it kicks off the start of Seattle’s Con Season.   Between now and November there is at least one con a month including SakuraCon, PAX. Norwescon, Jet City Comic Show as well as some smaller more specialized offerings (Supernatural Con, anyone?)

I am a seasoned con-goer at this point and one the most frequently asked questions ParentingGeeky gets is “What can I expect at my first con?”  So, whether you are new to cons or a seasoned pro, these tips will help you make the most of your con experience!

What to Wear

Deodorant – It may be a cliche that cons can get stinky, but with a lot of people crammed into relatively small spaces it’s bound to happen. Do your part by wearing deodorant! Conversely, many people are sensitive to strong smells, skip the body sprays and perfumes.
Comfortable shoes – This is not the time to try out your sweet new stilettos. You will be on your feet for hours, take care of them! Even if your cosplay requires fancy feet, bring something comfy to change into.
Layers – Going from a stuffy a exhibition hall to an overly air conditioned auditorium can make staying comfortable tricky. Dress in layers so you are prepared for any situation.
Sun Protection – At bigger cons like San Diego ComicCon and PAX, you will be traveling between multiple buildings and may even have to stand in line outside. Even at ECCC, which is mostly in one building, you may wish to venture out to a nearby restaurant or sit in the attached park. Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses can be a lifesaver.

What to Bring:

Hand sanitizer/Disinfectant Wipes – Cons are germy places. Hand sanitizer can be used before and after shaking hands, though it isn’t a substitute for frequent hand washing. Wipes can be used on communal game controllers, pens, etc.
Snacks and Water – Con food is expensive and sometimes hard to come by. Tidy snacks like jerky, granola bars, and trail mix can stave off low blood sugar. You can refill water bottles in sinks and water fountains for free.
Sharpies – Always good to have your own supply for signings.
Folder, backing board, poster tube – For keeping new purchases from getting rumpled.
Patience – Lines are long, sometimes even moving through the crowd in the expo halls can take a long time. Be patient and kind, even when everyone else isn’t.
Line Entertainment – Especially important if you have kids. Books, tablets, a Gameboy all help lines go faster.
WiFi Hotspot – If you have one, bring it. Con wifi is notoriously slow, if it’s even available. Even 4G data can get pretty clogged with so many users in one place, so keep expectations low and download entertainment before hand rather than counting on streaming while there.
Money (and a budget) – Cons are expensive! Make a loop around the whole vendor area before you spend. Otherwise you might blow your whole budget before you’ve even seen everything.
A backpack, but not a BACKPACK – I appreciate the convenience of toting my stuff around in a backpack, but can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hit in face by a tall person who swings around suddenly with a huge, fully extended pack on them. Try to take up as small a footprint as you can, and be mindful of the people around you.

How to approach guests, speakers, creators, etc.

Those you know and admire

If they are sitting at their table or another public area of the con where they are clearly working: say hi! Keep interactions short, especially if there is a line. Don’t get too personal. Respect personal space and any rules posted about autographs and photos; at many cons pictures are not allowed at tables because there is a professional photographer to buy photos from. If no rules or prices are posted, ask before taking photos. It is a surprise to many first time con-goers that media guests and celebrities frequently charge for an autograph.  These fees can range from $15 to hundreds of dollars (Sylvester Stallone notoriously charged $395 at NYCC in 2013)  – though prices usually cap off around $100 for event the biggest celebrities.

If you bump into them in a con area restaurant, shop or a bathroom, or roaming the con as an attendee: A simple smile and nod is appropriate. Notables need some downtime to recharge, be polite and let them have it.

People you are unfamiliar with: Ask them what they are working on! Most people are there to share their passion or a current project and will be happy to tell you all about it. No need to be shy! A simple “I’m unfamiliar with your work, what is your current project” will get the ball rolling!

As a parent who frequently has my geeklings in tow, I also wrote a guide to bringing them to conventions:  http://bit.ly/kidsatcons