February 27, 2024

130+ Best Educational Stocking Stuffers for Kids of All Ages


Your children will love these great gift ideas that are small enough to fit in a normal Christmas stocking! Lots of unique and creative ideas.

A close up of Christmas giftsA close up of Christmas giftsTwo girls holding Christmas stockingsTwo girls holding Christmas stockingsChristmas stockingsChristmas stockings

Christmas stocks with giftsChristmas stocks with gifts

Do you like stuffing your children’s stockings? I don’t particularly, to be honest. I love wrapping presents and making big piles, but I fizzle out where stockings are concerned.

I usually forget about the stockings until way late, too, and then I have to rush around and order a bunch of things from Amazon because I haven’t planned very well.

And then, I end up with tons of extra stuff that doesn’t fit into the stocking because I went overboard in panic. It’s a vicious cycle that happens every single year.

I don’t know exactly what I’m going to put into their stockings this year, although I do have most of their other presents purchased and hiding in a chest in the garage already.

In compiling this post, I came up with lots of good ideas, so as my budget allows, I will probably start grabbing some of the things below and stowing them to prepare.

Since this post is all about educational stocking stuffers, I have separated them into subject areas:

  • Math & logic
  • Science
  • Reading & writing
  • Art & music
  • Other educational stocking stuffers

Visit the Christmas gift guide for families for hundreds more gift ideas!

Math & Logic Stocking Stuffers

Skip-bo gameSkip-bo game
SkipBo is easily Allie’s favorite game. We call her the Card Shark because she can beat anyone, anytime at SkipBo. The idea is very simple – you get a stack of cards in your stockpile, and you have to play them, one at a time, on four piles of sequential cards. It’s fun and easy and great math practice. There’s also a SkipBo Junior which is really well done. This case makes keeping track of your cards simple and easy.
Mille Bornes gameMille Bornes game
This is a fun and easy card game where the first person to get 1,000 miles wins the game. This version is really nice because it comes in a tin. We like card games in tins better than the ones in boxes because they seem to last longer.
Set gameSet gameblankblank
This game is probably bordering on too big for the stocking unless you have a really immense one, but it’s worth including because it’s a great game. There are no turns in this game – everyone plays at once to find sets among all the cards on the board.
Blink gameBlink game
Blink is a super fast game where you have to match the color, shape, or count of the cards in your draw pile to play all your cards before your opponents.
Dutch Blitz gameDutch Blitz game
Dutch Blitz is another fast-paced game where everyone plays at the same time, trying to get rid of a Blitz Pile to win the game. You play your cards using sequences of numbers, making it a great game for number recognition and math skills.
Travel Clue gameTravel Clue game
I debated about putting Clue in the reading section, but I think at its most basic, this is a game about logic and deduction. You have to figure out who committed the murder, in what room, and with what weapon, by peeking at other players’ cards (with permission, of course).
Travel Snakes & Ladders gameTravel Snakes & Ladders game
This travel Snakes & Ladders game is fun and easy to transport. I have a free printable Snakes & Ladders game that you can print and laminate, but if you want something a little more permanent and travel-ready, the magnetic version above is terrific.
Travel Connect 4 gameTravel Connect 4 game
Connect 4 is a pretty traditional spatial recognition game. You have to predict your opponent’s next move to try to block her and get 4 chips in a row for yourself. This travel version is small enough for a stocking.
Travel Battleship gameTravel Battleship game
Travel Battleship is perfect for teaching kids about a coordinate system and the foundations of geometry. You take turns sending shots into your opponent’s sea, trying to hit her ships. If you hit all the points on a ship, it has been sunk, and the first player to sink all her opponent’s ships is the winner.
Travel Chess gameTravel Chess game
Grace loves chess. I taught her using my basic at best skills, and we play together without strategy or plan. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not fun; it is quite fun. This neat kit is the size of a checkbook when folded, and the magnetic pieces stay stuck to the board while you’re playing, making it very convenient.
Kanoodle gameKanoodle game
I’ve included a lot of these spatial-type games because Allie LOVES them. This one is a little like Tetris with shapes made of little balls, and you have to fit them together in different arrangements.
Cat Stax gameCat Stax game
Okay, so we have Cat Stax, but there is also Dog Pile and Hay Stax. It’s another spatial game where you have to make certain arrangements using on the cats specified. We play this one a lot because, cats!
IQ Link gameIQ Link game
This is another spatial one-player game. There are Tetris-like pieces made up of circles, parts of circles, and balls. They fit together sort of, but only if you get them in just the right position, and the puzzle cards tell you which pieces to use for each round.

There are a couple of game makers that we adore, and ThinkFun is one of them. (Gamewright and MindWare are two others.) Swish is made by ThinkFun, and that’s the reason we gave it a try. It uses transparent cards that you stack on top of each other to make pairs. It’s another spatial game that Allie loves.
Suspend gameSuspend game
Suspend by Melissa & Doug is a different kind of spatial game, but a spatial game nonetheless. You have to add a long metal stick to the stack, hooking them on and balancing them so that the tower doesn’t topple.

Dot to Dot bookDot to Dot bookblankblank
Extreme Dot to Dot books are very very detailed and super fun. Allie could work on one of these all afternoon.

Math Dice Jr gameMath Dice Jr game
Allie loves Math Dice Jr! You add and subtract the numbers on the dice using mental math. There is a regular Math Dice which uses all four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), but we’re not ready for that yet.

Sumoku gameSumoku game
“Crossword style numbers game” sounds amazing doesn’t it? Well, it would if you were a numbers nerd like Allie and me! I love this game because you can play alone or with others. It’s a little like Bananagrams with numbers, if you’ve ever played that one.
Zeus on the Loose gameZeus on the Loose game
We LOVE Zues on the Loose! You have to keep a running total of all the numbers played, and the game can sometimes go quickly, meaning that you have to add quickly. It’s a lot of fun, and you never ever know who’s going to win until the game actually ends. No one has an advantage!
Sleeping Queens gameSleeping Queens game
This is one of my two tip-top favorite games, and my kids also LOVE it. Allie has been playing since she was four years old, and we have never tired of it. We take it everywhere with us because we’re always playing it, and we’ve even gone through a couple of them because we’ve lost it. This tin version has extra queen cards which makes the game last a little longer for more fun.
Rat-A-Tat Cat gameRat-A-Tat Cat game
Allie is so good at Rat-A-Tat-Cat that I almost never win, but I still play because it’s her favorite. You get four cards to start the game, but you only get to look at two of them (and you only get to look at those two one time before the game starts), and then you have to trade the other two or else take your chances with bad cards. It sounds complicated, but it’s really not. We play this all the time.
Pass the Pigs gamePass the Pigs game
Pass the Pigs is definitely in my top five favorite games. You roll these two little piggies like dice, and you get points based on how they land. You can keep rolling as long as you want and amassing points, unless you get the magic combination that negates all your points and sends you back to zero. It’s great for mental math as you have to decide whether to keep going or not and you have to keep track of your points.
Travel Tangrams activity bookTravel Tangrams activity book
The first time I ever saw tangrams, I was an adult working at a science museum. I was intrigued by the shapes you can use to make a square or any number of other shapes. The book that comes with these tangrams gives you outlines of things you can make with your tangrams, and you have to figure out how to arrange the pieces into that shape.
Shape by Shape gameShape by Shape game
This single player game is very similar to the tangrams above, except that this is in a tray with convenient cards. Every shape fits inside the game tray.
Quixx gameQuixx game
Quixx is a fast-paced dice game where players all play at the same time. One person rolls the dice, and all the others try to cross numbers off their score cards.
Racing gameRacing game
I’ve never actually played cribbage, but it looks interesting. I know you have to add numbers up to 121 and get your pegs to the end of the trail. It is a game for 2-4 players, and it’s been around since the mid-1700s, so there is definitely something good about it.
Dominoes gameDominoes game
Dominoes is another time-tested game for families. You have to match up the dominoes based on the number of dots on each one. This is a nice set that contains 55 dominoes, perfect if you are playing with multiple people.
Playing cardsPlaying cards
Good old playing cards are great for about seventy-five thousand different games, but one my kids like especially is war, where the person with the higher number card wins the round and takes the cards into her own draw pile. Get a book of card game rules and a zippered case to make life easier.
Does UNO need any explanation? You can get this perennial card game in tons of different variations – emoji, Minions, every character you can think of – and it is always super fun. When I was a kid, we used to have games so wild that we’d make an arrow out of a gum wrapper so we’d know what direction play was going in. Don’t forget a zippered case if you get a deck of UNO cards without a tin.
Clumsy Thief gameClumsy Thief game
This is a super fun, super sneaky card game where you have to add up your money to equal $100, but competitors can steal your money and you can send them to jail.
Check the Fridge gameCheck the Fridge game
The thing I like most about this game is the bluffing. You have to be able to add numbers up to 25, but more than that, you have to guess what vegetables other players have and convince them you have things that maybe you don’t. Super fun.
Perplexors activity bookPerplexors activity book
Grace loves these logic puzzles which come in many different levels of difficulty and complexity. Look around on Amazon, and double check to make sure you’re ordering the level most appropriate for your kiddos before you buy. These are really fun and a sneaky way to get in some reasoning and logic skills.
Logic Links gameLogic Links game
Logic Links are part logic puzzle, part spatial puzzle, so Allie loves them. The game comes with a huge pack of puzzle cards, each using a series of little colored chips.
Farkle gameFarkle game
We love Farkle, and we have a bunch of different versions. Basically, you roll six dice, and you have to get certain combinations of numbers to keep playing and amassing points. It’s great for three-digit addition because the points are all big numbers.
Phase 10 gamePhase 10 game
This is a simple card game where you have to collect sets of numbers. It lasts a long time, so perhaps not the best for the youngest card players, but it’s a fun game. Do yourself a favor and get a case for your cards while you’re at it.
Yahtzee gameYahtzee game
I used to play Yahtzee with Old Grandma for hours and hours on end. It’s great for math skills and counting as well as strategy and logic. This is one of my top five favorite games.
Spot It! gameSpot It! game
Spot It! is a perennial favorite at my house. We have many different versions from Frozen to Splash (the waterproof version), but they’re all basically the same. Every pair of cards contains exactly one pair of matching pictures. I would like to know how they make them because they baffle me, but it’s true. Every pair of cards has exactly one matching picture between them.
Rubik\'s CubeRubik\'s Cube
The classic, right? I have only ever met one person who could solve a Rubik’s Cub, and he could do it in under two minutes no matter how crazy mixed up it was. Like Spot It!, his mad skills baffled me. But anyway, the cubes are fun to play with and to try to solve.

Sudoku activity bookSudoku activity book
When I was a high school teacher, one of my students taught me how to work these number puzzles. They’re more logic puzzles than number puzzles, but logic is still a math skill, right? I really like sudoku puzzles, though I’m not particularly good at them.

Science Stocking Stuffers

MMRY gameMMRY game
I got this game for my girls in 2016, and we love love love it. It’s a basic memory game, but the cards are all full color, very detailed photos of the planets and moons in our solar system. My astronomy-teacher heart sings with joy every time we get it out.
Solar System card deckSolar System card deck
We got these photographic cards to go along with MMRY. They are gorgeous, just absolutely amazing views of the bodies in our solar system, everything from the planets and dwarf planets to asteroids and moons and even the sun itself.
pocket microscopepocket microscope
We love microscopes, big and small, and this awesome little powerhouse is pocket-sized, perfect for taking on walks and field trips. It even has a built-in light!
magnifying glassesmagnifying glasses
Another gadget with a built-in light, this magnifying glass is very useful for larger objects where the microscope is too small. Together with the microscope above and the binoculars below, this lighted magnifier is the perfect addition to any nature explorer’s backpack!
pocket binocularspocket binoculars
I got these binoculars for the girls and I when we were going to start a Wild Explorers program. We quickly lost interest in the program as my kids hate to hike, but we love our binoculars. They’re great for birdwatching, stargazing, and even backyard play.
When I taught high school science, I taught a unit on orienteering, and I always thought it was super fun. I made courses for the kids where they had to walk at a certain bearing for a certain distance, turn, and go on another distance, and eventually reach a winning destination. You could very easily set up something like that for your kids, with a treat at the end like a scavenger hunt.
periodic table gameperiodic table game
This interlocking set of tiles builds the periodic table in a cool, tangible way. Perfect paired with the cards below and used like a jigsaw puzzle.
Elements card deckElements card deckblankblank
How cool is this deck of cards? It has a real photo of every single element from the periodic table. What’s even better is that there’s a molecules deck and a reactions deck.
Valence gameValence game
Valence is a game I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s based on the periodic table, but anyone can play even without a background in chemistry. Players use math and the game cards to build molecules and learn lots.
Makey MakeyMakey Makey
I got Grace a Makey Makey years ago after several years of shameless begging. The premise is simple – the Makey Makey is a controller that can change any conductive surface into a computer keyboard and mouse. You can use bananas, aluminum foil, PlayDoh, almost anything. It’s a fun little gadget that Grace has used to play games and make music. If you get a Makey Makey, get the Evil Genius book that goes with it; it gives you lots of ideas for play.
solar powered prismsolar powered prism
I found these prisms about ten years ago and gave them to everyone I knew. My mom had one, Old Grandma, both of my sisters… lots of people. They are solar-powered and stick to the window and make tons and tons of rainbows in the room. Love love love them.
rainbow prismrainbow prism
The solar prisms above are a little pricey, so if you would rather a less expensive version, take a look at these pretty ones. They’ll likely not turn unless there’s a breeze, so the rainbows in the room will be still, but they’ll still make a beautiful show when the sun shines on them.
owl pelletsowl pellets
Owl pellets are the coolest thing ever. Owls are predators; they generally eat rodents. The trouble is that owls can’t digest fur and bones (like snakes can), so they have to cough those up and spit them out. Their stomachs form the fur and bones into pellets (bigger or smaller, depending on the size of the owl) which makes them very convenient for dissection by curious children and adults. When you dissect an owl pellet, you can figure out exactly what kind of rodent or bird the owl ate using a bone key. We’ve done this a number of times and always get super into it.
Go Find It gameGo Find It game
Do other children like scavenger hunts as much as mine do? This one includes all kinds of objects from nature. It’s very open-ended, so you can make up your own games with it or just use it as a simple scavenger hunt.
The Stick BookThe Stick Book
My kids love sticks, and they are 11 and almost 8. Whenever I force them to go on a walk, they come home with the biggest sticks they can find. They make walking sticks and swords out of them, but this book will help them turn those sticks into things even more amazing.
Rock On gameRock On game
Rock On! is the perfect mix of rock collection and multi-player game. There are 5 different games that can be played with the kit, making it perfect for curious and rock-loving kids of all ages.
Nature Fluxx gameNature Fluxx game
Fluxx is an interesting card game with ever changing rules. You start out by picking up and playing one card, but then with every round, the rules change depending on the cards you pick up and play. Nature Fluxx is all about plants, animals, and elements, but there are dozens of other versions including chemistry, math, holiday, pirate, and fairy tales, plus the original one and many others.
kid sized garden toolskid sized garden tools
I’ve shared before about getting kids out into the garden, and these tools are perfect for that purpose. They are smaller than normal, making them easy and accessible for kids’ small hands. Allie’s favorite is the red rake which she used to dig up our sweet potatoes this fall. Throw in a pair of cute kids’ garden gloves while you’re at it.
Nature boxNature box
I love this game! It can be played as a solo game or with a crowd. Basically, you choose a card and turn it over, trying to memorize as much of it as possible. Then you flip it back over and see who remembers the most stuff. The cards are rich and detailed which makes it interesting – and sometimes tough – to remember everything you saw.
Ozobot is a cool little robot that can sense changes in light and dark, so it will follow lines drawn on paper. You can use color codes to make them do things like spin in circles and go faster and slower along their paths which makes them super fun. We have three of them. The ozobot bit is about half of the price of the evo (which we have and I linked on the image), but the evo bots communicate with each other which adds a level of interest and fun.
Plui rain cloudPlui rain cloud
Plui is a toddler tub toy that older kids will find really interesting. You fill it up with water, and the water drains out of the cloud as rain. You can make it start and stop by putting your finger over a hole at the top of the cloud.
geodes to break at homegeodes to break at home
Geodes. Need I say more? Okay, I will say more. Geodes are rocks with stuff inside, normally crystals but sometimes agate or another mineral. They are natural formations, not mad-made. We have gotten this box of geodes a couple of time with mostly good results. Once, all of our geodes were similar with white crystals, and the other time one of the geodes was a dud, plain old rock, but 19/20 were awesome, so we will continue to buy these as the kids have interest. If the box is too big for your stocking, take the geodes out and stick them in unwrapped.

Reading & Writing Stocking Stuffers

Grace had been asking for Wreck This Journal for a year before I finally gave it to her for her birthday. She loved it, and she really did wreck it. By the time she was finished, her journal was in two or three pieces. She used her own money to buy a second copy which she also wrecked. I found out not too long ago that there are more similar books from this author (see below for a couple of them), and Grace was ecstatic to learn about them.
Finish this bookFinish this book
This is another book from Keri Smith who created Wreck This Journal. You get to write this book, but there are prompts and fill-in-the-blanks to help you along, and there’s a training section full of codes and exercises to help you. I’m not doing it justice here; this is an awesome book that kids will LOVE.

Another book from Keri Smith. This one asks kids to create their own imaginary world, full of things they love. Grace is getting this one in her stocking this year.

One more fun book from Keri Smith, this one about a scavenger hunt where you find interesting objects and then use them to make more interesting stories. Kids love these books because they’re open-ended and adaptable but provide structure and organization to prop up even the most reluctant writers.

I have this book light in purple, and I think I’ve had it for 20 years, definitely a long, long time. It’s still super bright, and Grace has confiscated to use to read at night. I let her because I mostly read on my Kindle Fire these days anyway.

Magnetic Poetry, adorning fridges everywhere since 1993. There are many different variations of Magnetic Poetry, from early elementary first words to Spanish to Genius and everything in between.

Bananagrams is a word game sort of like Scrabble, where you try to use all your letter tiles by placing them in a word grid on the table before the other players use all their tiles. It’s fast paced and fun.

Appletters is another word game, from the makers of Bananagrams. In Bananagrams, each person builds her own grid of letters and words. In Appletters, everyone shares a Scrabble-like grid of letters.
Pairs in Pears gamePairs in Pears game
Pairs in Pears is another game from Bananagrams where you recognize patterns in words. It is intended for littler kids, preschool and early elementary age, but there are simple modifications you can make to make it great for older kids and even teens and adults.

Word-A-Melon is also from Bananagrams. It’s part memory game and part word game. It’s a great family game, because it’s perfect for a variety of ages to play together.

Zip-It is a travel game, also from the makers of Bananagrams, and it is small enough to play even on an airplane tray table. This one is more like a crossword puzzle game for two players, where you race to make a grid using your own letter tiles.

This is a great game for strong readers. Each card has letters on it in a ring, and you have to guess the word without knowing where the word starts or ends.
Another awesome game for older kids, Wordical uses dice to make words. Whoever comes up with the highest scoring word wins the round.

I got this for Grace last year for Christmas, and we think it’s a lot of fun. You have to find a word from a picture that begins with the last letter of the last word played. So, if they last word was pyramid, the next word could be dog, and then the next word after that could be goat. It is a lot harder than it sounds, and we always end up laughing like hyenas at our mistakes.

Both of my kids have these journals, tucked into their stockings in 2017. The books have 365 questions in them, each followed by a short section to write the child’s answers three times over three years. The questions are things like, “What do you hope for?” and “If you could buy anything, what would you buy?” and “What are you especially good at?” Simple questions with short answers, and definitely fun to see how they change over time.

Mad LibsMad Libs
Do MadLibs need an introduction? Kids love these silly stories, and the one above is all about mermaids and unicorns which would delight my children.
Mad Libs gameMad Libs game
This is a MadLibs GAME, perfect for tweens and teens. Players get word cards and have to use them together to make hilarious sentences. Then a judge decides which sentence is the best and play continues.

Another great word game for tweens, teens, and adults. For this game, you get topic cards and have to make an acrostic, a series of words that relate to the original word. The example is CARROT, and the words are Cake, orAnge, gaRden, and so on. All the played words have to do with carrots. I haven’t played this one yet, but I can’t wait to try it.

I love this Hangman game which has letter tiles for the whole alphabet, plus the pieces of the man and more. It’s magnetic which makes it perfect for keeping in your purse to use at restaurants or in the car. I think I’m going to get this for Grace this year since she loves Hangman.
We have so many sets of these. They are a fun way to tell stories, big stories or small stories. You can roll the dice and make a story all together or have contests to make little stories on your own. There are endless ways to play with Story Cubes!

These Create A Story cards are very similar to Rory’s Story Cubes above. We got this set when Grace was just two or three years old, and we have played with them for all the years since. We have the set I linked above and the Mystery in the Forest set.

These journals are so nice, but they are boy and girl specific, so make sure you get the right one. Grace and I have been writing in hers for a few months now, and she always looks forward to what I’ll write back to her. I love the extra communication with my growing girl.

Who wouldn’t want to write in invisible ink? I think these are really neat, and I may just order a pack for my girls this year. Copywork, anyone? (You can see the ink under a blacklight.)

Art & Music Stocking Stuffers

My kids love window markers of all kinds. These are the basic ones, but we’ve also gotten crystal effect markers which are really neat.

We have been buying and loving Crayola bath crayons for going on 11 years, ever since Grace could hold one. They are very high quality, leaving nice, dark marks, but washing away cleanly from surfaces and skin.

These are by far the best chalk pastels we’ve used. If you decide to get these, get some high quality black art paper and consider a subscription to ChalkPastels.com which is an amazing site full of tutorials, created by my friend Tricia and her Nana. It’s really wonderful, so go check it out!

I first invested in these colored pencils when I was heavy into Bible journaling, and no other colored pencils have been accepted ever since! They’re a little on the soft side which means they color evenly and brightly every time. Love them.

This ThinkFun “game” helps players to compose their own music which I think is awesome. And, if you register on their website, you can hear a real orchestra play the tunes you’ve created!

If you’ve never heard of Zentangle, you are in for a treat. It’s a style of doodling in black and white (although you could color it when you were finished), and it’s all contained on a square of cardstock. We’ve used cardboard coasters in the past, but these artist tiles are even better. There are lots of Zentangle books out there, and we have quite a few, but this one is our favorite.

If you’ve never owned a high quality set of watercolor paints, you are going to love these. (And even if you have had nice watercolors, you’ll still love these!) These will give you a level of vibrancy that it’s impossible to achieve with the cheapo ones you get in the school supply aisle. Don’t forget watercolor paper as it makes the finished work nicer and much more durable.
Chalk markers are super fun. They go on wet, like paint markers, and they dry to a matte chalky finish which really does wipe away with a chalkboard eraser or a moistened paper towel. You’ll need a pretty chalkboard to go with them.

My kids love Top Trumps, which is a card game like War where whomever’s card is the highest in a particular category (decided ahead of time) is the winner. This deck is all about the masters of painting, so it’s a great way to sneak in some good learning while they’re playing.

Grace learned about Van Gogh in an art class when she was just 5 or 6, and she has loved his work ever since. I’m ordering these Go Fish cards for her stocking this year.

Okay, so maybe you don’t really need two sets of Go Fish cards, but if you kept them put away and just did a little strewing now and then, you could rotate them for maximum play and learning. I love this whole series because it exposes kids to great work without beating them over the head with it.

Okay, last one, I promise. The Impressionists are my favorite, so I couldn’t leave this one out. There’s another deck for modern art, too.

Whatchamadrawit is a little like Apples to Apples except you are drawing things in response to a prompt. It is an amazingly fun game, even for non-readers, and your whole family will enjoy playing it together.

Grace loves origami paper, so I had to include it on the list. There are lots of different colors and patterns available on Amazon and in craft stores, but I think this set is a great choice because it has tons of sheets for maximum play and mistake-making. Don’t forget a book of instructions to go along with it.

We love our sketch pads! The girls are always making fashion designs or drawing pictures from the stories we’re reading. A high quality sketch pad is a must for any budding artist, especially when paired with the colored pencils above.

Sun-activated paper is so cool, your kids are going to love it. You lay things on top of it to make a shadow, and then you leave the paper out in the sun. A few hours later, you will have a unique blue and white picture.

We love Spirograph, but the original version is huge and takes up a ton of space. This travel version is very small, will fit into the stocking, and has fewer pieces to lose plus a nice carrying case. A much better alternative to the original, in my opinion.

Modeling clay is magic for kids, at least it is for my kids. It’s like the grown up version of Play-Doh, plus they can bake it and keep their creations forever. This particular set is AWESOME but enormous, so you will have to break it down and put just the clay into the stockings. Still worthwhile in my opinion.

A nice set of brushes is another must for any budding artist. We have this set, and they have lasted for quite a while even through my children’s abuse.

Two words: face paint. Need I say more? My kids love painting each others’ faces and even painting their own faces in the bathroom mirror. It’s a super fun way to pass an afternoon, and this particular kit comes with stencils to improve the quality of their work. It’s not a stocking stuffer, but this book is an awesome addition to the face paint kit.

My kids love Wikki Stix. They’re basically yarn coated in wax, so they’re small and lightweight, but they stick to themselves and each other readily, allowing you to make all kinds of sculptures with them. Imagine pipe cleaners but not fuzzy and without the wire inside, so I guess not so much like pipe cleaners after all.

Noisy toys don’t bother me, and this one is the Cadillac of harmonicas. It’s a real musical instrument that your kids can learn to play with reliable precision. Get them a beginner’s guide to playing while you’re at it.

If you’re buying stocking stuffers for someone else’s kids, go for a recorder. It’s the ultimate in easy to learn musical instruments, and it’s cheap, too. You can even get a beginner’s guide to play recorder.

Grace got a cheapo plastic junk kazoo a couple weeks ago, and she was really interested in making it work. Unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be, but I’m thinking about getting her a real one so she can learn how to play it in earnest. No beginners’ guides available for kazoos.

Other Educational Stocking Stuffers

This game is pure fun, and it involves quite a bit of strategy too. I got it on a lark last Christmas, and only because it was cheap and from one of our favorite game makers, Gamewright. Turns out it’s a great game that requires very little reading (and even then you can read for non-readers quite easily), and we love to play it. I will say though that it’s not as much fun with only two players.

I just love dinner table and table talk games. They get my family talking and laughing together as we share our meal, and that is gold in my opinion. This set is nice because they’re spill proof.

This one has games in the title, but it’s mostly made up of discussion questions.

I said above that I love Table Topics, and this might be my favorite set which is apropos being that the questions are all about your favorite things. There are also good ones for teens, multi-generational groups, and general family questions.

This is a very silly card game from GameWright, so you know it’s going to be awesome. It’s basically a matching game where you try to get rid of your moose and give them to other players. Your kids will love it.

This is maybe a wee bit big for a stocking, but you could probably make it work. My older sister got Allie kinetic sand years and years ago, and Allie is still playing with it. Unlike Play-Doh, this stuff doesn’t dry out and doesn’t need to be stored in a sealed container. And it’s not as messy. And it vacuums right up out of the carpet. Don’t forget some small sand toys to go with it, and plan on storing it in a dishpan or other wide, shallow container.

Insta-snow is fun. You mix it with a teeny tiny amount of water, and it blows up into a crazy amount of “snow.” I just bought some for Grace to use in her slime-making, and she said it was a nice quality.

This is the first of a whole series of Unbored books intended for tweens and younger teens. They are a little big for a stocking maybe (although they would fit in ours from Pottery Barn), but they are super cool and will delight your older kids. Also look for Unbored Games and Unbored Adventures. There’s another one called 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do that looks like fun too.

This is the original Big Bubbles bubble wand invented thirty years ago. They say it can produce bubbles up to 19 feet long which is totally amazing. I’m getting one for my kids this year. Don’t forget the bubble juice.

Joe’s dad introduced us to this game which is often used for gambling, but makes a lot of sense for kids, too. It’s interesting and all based on chance, so kids can play with adults without handicap.

I love Trouble, but Joe and my kids hate it, so I have no one to play with me. It’s a fun game where you have to get your tokens around the board and into safety before they get sent back home by an opponent.

As you can see above, there are lots and lots and lots of options for educational stocking stuffers for kids, tweens, and teens. Your gifts this year don’t have to be lame or devoid of educational value; everything on this list is interesting and fun and kid-tested.

What educational stocking stuffers are you going to give this year?

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