There are countless parenting pitfalls that we’ve fallen into. One is stuffing the stockings with plastic junk, courtesy of last-minute, panic-stricken trips to Target and the Dollar Store on December 23. As our children have gotten older, we’ve tried to teach them to place less value on stuff, and more value on new experiences, quality time together, and doing those things you most enjoy. It became very apparent that our stocking stuffers didn’t pass our own sniff test.
Books make a great addition to any stocking, along with other creative items like new crayons, markers, little notebooks to keep by their beds or scattered around the house, and reading-related products. These items also work because they are small enough to fit in most stockings, and yet pack lots of punch in terms of quality, fun reads, and improved literacy skills. The point is, think small, but mighty!
Post It Notes Talk about life’s simple pleasures! Kids adore post-its. My children love to make lists or use them as bookmarks. Kids (young and old) can jot down topics they want to know more about or talk about when reading independently. My sister was known for going through a pack of post-its in the week leading up to her birthday, scattering them around the house in drawers and under covers to remind us of the upcoming day!
Mr. Men and Little Miss Series Such a fun series of books, especially for teaching children about personality traits and big feelings in a fun, non-pressured way. Pick up a few for their stocking, and if it’s a big hit, consider investing in the box sets. My kids have made their way through these sets many times over.
DK Pocket Eyewitness Books These handy little books truly do fit in your pocket or a purse. A great, nonfiction resource that covers topics related to science, animals, cars, history, and more. You’re sure to find one that relates to your child’s current obsession.
Reading Light/Mini Flashlight A reading light is the ideal treat for a child who loves to cozy up in bed to read, an older child who shares a room with a sibling who goes to bed earlier, and for kids who travel frequently and don’t want to miss out on their bedtime reading when stuck in a hotel room (true for moms and dads, too!)
Reading Bookmark Sure, scraps of paper, receipts, and dog eared pages will do, but a special bookmark, either bought or handmade, can make reading time even more sentimental. My favorite bookmark is one my daughter made me years ago.
Fun Pens Let’s face it, those #2 pencils can be pretty boring. Bring inspiration to the page with these felt tip pens.
Mad Libs News flash, parents of the 80s: Mad Libs are still cool! And now you can find versions that relate to all kinds of popular characters. Such a fun combination of writing, reading, and creativity. Great for road trips and family read-aloud sessions. This is one product that can work across a wide range of ages, too.
Coupons! How about a freebie? Create coupons kids can use throughout the year. THIS COUPON GOOD FOR: staying up past my bedtime with a book, a trip to the library, parent must read the bedtime book in a funny voice, etc.
Magnetic Letters Yep, they are plastic, cheap, and found just about anywhere, but the use for these little guys are endless! Use them on a cookie sheet in the car to practice letter identification or spelling.
Play-doh Looking for an alternative to spelling worksheets or copying those words 3X each? Bust out the play-doh to create tactile fun for those pesky words. Tip: To avoid activity burnout, only practice the words not yet mastered.
Shaving Cream Another fun way to practice letter and word recognition, with sensory fun along the way! Spray some shaving cream on a smooth surface, then use your index finger to practice letter formation. Just be sure the kids understand that shaving cream does not go in the mouth!
May your holidays be merry and your stockings be full of reading encouragement!
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