How do you do stocking fillers? It sometimes seems like the phrase has become a by-word for disposable, pointless gifts; things to raise a laugh when they are opened before being eclipsed by the next pointless thing. Stocking fillers should count – by which I mean challenge and develop and support your child’s natural curiosity and instinct to play – every bit as much as any other gift. In fact it’s often been the case in our house that an unassuming stocking filler we thought might not be very popular, has turned out to be the star of Christmas and the year ahead. Just because they are small, doesn’t mean they can’t pack a Christmas punch. Here’s our selection of some of the best perfectly-formed stocking filler toys in the 100 Toys range:
eeBoo Bear on a Bicycle puzzle
Puzzles make busy work for small hands, helping to develop coordination and spatial awareness. Start small, with a two-piece. You are establishing the idea that pieces go together to make a whole. You can then progress to three- and six-piece-puzzles. This 20-piece puzzle depicts a happy bear, off to see his friends on his bicycle, providing plenty of opportunity for language and discussion.
eeBoo op-art scratch papers
Before they can start using pens and pencils in earnest, children need to develop grip strength and co-ordination. Scratch papers are a fun and absorbing way to do this. eeBoo’s op-art set reveals brightly coloured pictures and patterns when the black matte coating is scratched away with the thin bamboo stylus. 15 papers, 20cm x 20cm
Tegu swivel bug
If your baby has mastered the art of a rattle and/or a grasper, the Tegu swivel bug is the next challenge! This wooden bug-like grasper has wings that flip out and magnetic forces in the wood that bring them back into line with a pleasing click. Babies are beguiled by the bug’s movements and most spend a very long time investigating the swivel bug, trying to get to the bottom of its magic.
Maileg mice in a matchbox
Play figures and dolls houses (or in Maileg-land, matchboxes) help children understand the world around them. The detailed clothing and little matchbox beds with real pillows and blankets give Maileg mice a special quality that’s just right for Christmas.
Ostheimer’s range of small woodland birds look bright and cheery as a group on a shelf or perched in the Ostheimer bird tree. But they are so much more than pretty accessories. Using birds as play figures, children can venture into different seasons and fly around the world, they can explore bird song and learn ornithological words and language that challenges their linguistic skills and memory, they can use them in small world play and imaginary games, or take them outside to eat worms. Hand-carved and beautifully painted, these are toys to keep for generations.
Grimm’s wobbly tower
This timeless wobbly tower is perfect for a busy baby who is beginning to develop greater motor skills and recognise colours and shapes. At first, simply unstacking the discs is fun but soon they are swept off with ease and the complicated task of replacing them on the stack can be mastered.
Grimm’s convertible car
Beep beep! This nifty little motor doesn’t only look cute it’s a world of transporting and vehicle play in one small gift. The simple, streamlined car takes its happy little passenger wherever they wish to go and its wooden wheels glide gently across most surfaces with ease. As useful a present for the child who likes to race (and crash) loudly against others, as the child who is happy to spend hours quietly driving cars by themselves.
Lyra pencils and Stockmar crayons
Too often we see ‘fun-size’ packets of crayons in party bags etc, which when you try to use them can barely make a mark on the paper. Disappointing results can be discouraging for children who are just discovering mark making, drawing and colouring. They are more expensive than most but both Lyra and Stockmar make excellent pencils, paints and crayons made with natural waxes and colours that glide on the page with ease. Children get more from the process, you get more peace and quiet.
Grapat loose parts – flowers
Grapat’s wooden loose parts help develop mathematical skills like counting and adding, as well as pattern and picture making, colour recognition and matching. These flowers can be especially engaging for a young gardener or someone who likes to create pretty scenes in their small world play. There are endless possibilities with these simple shapes.
Plan Toys sailing boat
Bathtime is a chance to really get hands on with water and all the interesting things you can do with it. These little wooden boats by Plan Toys are perfect companions in the bath (or a paddling pool if outside). Swoosh the boat across the waves and sail off into the sunset, scoop it and pour it, capsize and sink. Choose from a range of arctic navigators.
Makedo Toolkit 30-piece starter set
Turn all that Christmas cardboard recycling into something wonderful with the Makedo toolkit. MakeDo is a system that develops creativity and dexterity with only tools, cardboard and imagination.This 30-piece set contains all you need to get started on your first cardboard creations. Set includes a safe-saw, scru-driver and scrus in two sizes, ensuring you can build strong and exciting structures that last.