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7 Smart Stocking Stuffers Offering Kids Extra Fun on Vacation. Yankee Homestead Magnifying Glass Adventure There are many ways to add to family vacation fun but sometimes the little things make all the difference to a child. Suggestions include a personal compass, travel pillows, bug goggles, and music for little people. 

Here’s the scoop. I have assembled a short list of Christmas stocking stuffers to enhance your nest family trip with tykes. The suggestions on the list below have staying power long after the holiday season is over and make creating unique memories easy. The list was assembled from speaking with parents and grandparents who have tried and tested the items. The prices span five to 30 dollars. This list is represents some of the best but for more terrific items I have found museum stores, and local book stores offer clever, creative choices. I must admit the kid in me loves museum stores, and some of the things on this list I want in my stocking because they are too cool.
 
Seeing the big picture - Early Explorer Magnifying Glass Set. Small, simple and oh so much fun, giving a young child a magnifying glass guarantees hours of discoveries. Based on the opinion of Kathleen Henderson whose blog, Yankee Homestead, recommends the Early Explorer Set, I have ordered several as gifts.  According to Kathleen the magnifying glass is durable and able to withstand the abuse which goes along with active use and yet continue to function exactly like brand new. The set includes a tweezers as a bonus. (Ideal for ages 2-8.) Available on Amazon or at stores where teaching supplies are sold.Chameleon Vision Eye Goggles Smart Gift
     
Bug someone - Chameleon Vision Goggles. Perhaps my favorite stocking stuffer gift, REI has these irresistible goggles for kids which enable the child to see the world from a  super-cool reptile's point of view. Twist the goggle eyes for a 360° view meaning it is possible to see threats approaching from behind. The plastic mask has a softer plastic around the face for extra comfort and the elastic strap can be adjusted. This gift is perfect paired with a book on chameleons. (Ideal for ages 4-9) Available at REI.com

Hug someone - Lill’ Lewis Kid’s Travel Pillow. During my travels through airports I have seen dozens of comfy neck pillows hugging the necks of tots (or being hugged by tots). And every parent I spoke with gives this travel necessity a ‘thumbs up’ not just for the cleverness and comfort value but because the cozy pillows tend to have a calming effect on little ones giving them a useful friend for the trip. Created by Lewis N. Clark, the neck cradle designs include frog, clownfish, ladybug, monkey, and a bumble bee. (Ideal for children ages 2-5 but I secretly want one.) Found at ebags.comNature's Kaleidescope

Be naturally creative - Nature Kaleidoscope. Kids learn by doing and making a kaleidoscope is a pretty cool thing do. The kit from Toysmith focuses on the wonder of Mother Nature allowing each child to create their very own work of art using natural products.  Included in the kit are kaleidoscope parts with assembly instructions, pencils for coloring two drawings, and a small collection of dried flowers, polished gemstones, minerals, and glass marbles. And there is always the option to add personal treasures. (Recommended for ages 7 or older.) Available at your favorite museum store or on Amazon. 

Which way is North? Use a pocket, pendant, or wrist compass. For those who say no need for a compass because I have an app on my phone, I just smile because when your battery is gone so is the app and a real compass could make all of the difference. One of the best resources the Compass Store offering terrific  variety of compasses well suited to all ages including children, tweens and teens. One of my favorites (I have given it as a gift several times) is the rose compass pendant created by Journeyworks. The pendant is cast pewter, and comes with two cords – ideal for teens with travel adventures in their future. There is also the option of an aluminum pocket compass with sighting mirror and a navigational map in one. And for family adventures involving scavenger hunts or orienting the Paracord Compass Bracelet with whistle is perfect. (Perfect for all ages 7 to 77) Available at the Compass Store.
   
See in the night – Night IZE Buglit or pocket lantern. He who has the light has the power. Night lights can often make all the difference in a young child’s comfort away from home. For wellbeing before or during sleep time away from home, L. L. Bean has crazy looking a LED Nght Ize Buglit. The hands free, micro flashlight which look like a bug. The six-inch bug "legs" can be wrapped , twisted or bent to provide just the right light in just the right place be it on a bed post, tent pole or bathroom towel rod. Could be used on a night stand or maybe hooked to a hat brim whatever it takes to make the night more comfortable. (I know, practical yet fun – right.)  The actual light has a range of 50 feet and has high, low, strobe and signal modes.  For older kids or more traditionalists in the family the Stowaway Collapsible Lantern is also nifty. (Works for all ages) Available at LLBean.comFamily Vacation Music for Little People
  
Just sing along - Music for Little People. Nothing makes a road trip seem shorter than music which the whole family can enjoy. Recordings produced by Music for Little People (MLP) helped our family breeze over thousands of miles without squabbles, except for the kids asking their father please not to sing if he could not remember the words. The extensive assortment of CDs is beyond tempting to anyone who appreciates music and loves sharing it with children. MLP produces terrific music aimed at families, not just kids. You will find recordings by Raffi, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Willy Nelson, and Faith Hill and genres from traditional folk to world music. Our family’s favorites Catch a Wave - beach songs for kids, Celebration of Folk Music, and Broadway Show Tunes. (Ideal for music lovers of all ages.) Available on or at your favorite book store but you may view the rich menu of choices at Music for Little People's consumer location www.songstogrow.com

Plus one more.Child's Pocket Sundial

Pocket sundial - what time is it anyway?
I feel like I must add just one more item to the list because it is artful, as well as useful. Brass Binnacle has a child’s version of the original pocket watch – a sundial. It measures less than four inches square and will easily tuck into a pocket or satchel. It makes telling time fun. All you need is a child and some sunshine. Available at nautical museum gift stores,  and www.brassbinnacle.com

11 more ideas. 
And if you are still looking for great gifts for the youngersters in your life Kathleen Henderson has just posted a terrific list of gifts ideal for sharing nature with kids. You may view it at Yankee Homestead. 

Content and images by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for FTF. Magnifying glass image courtesy Kathleen Henderson of YankeeHomested. Copyright updated 2017.


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