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My Must Have Kids STEM Stocking Fillers

STEM Stocking Fillers

I’ve blogged about craft stocking fillers before. This time I haven’t set myself the £5 budget but nothing will be super expensive. It’s the stocking at the end of the day. As they get older I like to try and get toys and things that will encourage a bit of independent learning or play. I’ve put together a list of my favourite stocking ideas past and present to give you some inspiration. Or not!

All of the Amazon links are affiliate links so I will earn a small commission if you buy through them. Other retail links are just normal links to ideas that I like or have used with no financial reward for me. If you shop through the affiliate links with Amazon thanks for supporting Toy Infinity, I really appreciate it. I hope you like my ideas.

Science Technology Engineering Maths

STEM Stocking Ideas

  • Measuring Kitchen items. Go to your local pound shop for these. Measuring spoons were a massive hit, not just for cooking but bath time as well.
  • Tape measure. A retractable one is best. What child doesn’t love to measure stuff?
  • Sudoku. My eldest loves Maths. I’ve got him a Sudoku book this year.
  • Bug hunting kit. Again, go to a pound shop for these. My children still love theirs. Failing that a plastic magnifying glass is great fun.
  • Most shops sell the maths and science activity books to suit the educational stage your child is at.
  • Make up your own science experiment kits like this idea for colourful celery or a weather inspired experiment. It will cost you pennies.
  • For small children under the age of three there are lots of STEM options. How about a shape sorter? That’s actually teaching them valuable engineering skills.
  • Wooden number puzzles. Look in your local pound shops for these.
  • Beads and string! A fun way to learn counting by making your own necklaces and bracelets. Getting them to knot the string helps finger control development too. Both of my older children loved threading beads.
  • Moon sand. Now I hate this stuff. It will never appear in any stocking I fill. But, it is a good construction toy. It’s just so messy…

Slightly More Expensive Ideas

Maybe you want one big item in there. These ideas cost slightly more but have the same Science Technology Engineering and Maths theme.

  • These colour mixing glasses look really cool. Due to the small parts they’re only suitable for children aged 3 years and over.
  • How about a solar robot? Build 6 different models including Solar Revolving Plane, Solar Windmill, Solar Plane, Solar Airboat, Solar Puppy, Solar Car. Best of all being solar powered it will never run out of batteries!
  • At £18 this is probably not a stocking filler but I love these magnetic construction kits. Of course you could buy a smaller kit or shop around to find one that suits your budget.
  • The Entertainer have a really fun looking T-Rex excavation kit for pre-order with guaranteed delivery for Christmas. We had a similar kit and it was extremely popular. I can’t find the exact one we had. Let’s face it most kids love digging!
  • I can’t forget the most popular engineering toy ever… Lego! You can get small Lego kits for a few pounds or splash out on a bigger set. This jungle buggy set 60156 is a great set and less than a fiver at Amazon. Every stocking every year has some Lego in it in our house.

My Favourite STEM Toys

This year I’m concentrating on capacity. Boy1 is in year 4 and studying volumes and capacity at the moment and The Girl is year 1 and starting to learn measurements. They can have fun outside in the warmer weather with the measuring items they will have this year. A lot of the toys you buy your children have an overtone of science, maths, engineering and technology to them. Let’s keep learning fun for as long as possible….

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5 Elf Accessories To Blow the budget

Elf Accessories

I believe in cheap and cheerful with the Elf on the Shelf. He doesn’t have any cool outfits or amazing elf accessories to do these wonderful Pinterest set-ups. But wait a minute. If I had an unlimited budget for all things Elf what would I buy? Well this blog post is exactly that. My favourite Elf items that I will probably never buy.

Elf Accessories Elf On The Shelf

  1. Scout Elves at Play. With 15 Elf sized accessories this would be a great starting point to some non-tacky looking Elf set-ups. Although it doesn’t come with an elf there is a book that gives 100 Elf Ideas. That’s the hardest part of Elfing. Thinking of what to do next. Thank goodness for Pinterest!
  2. Elf Superhero outfit. I’d never be able to get him to pose like the packet picture; but how cool is this? Every kid would love this first thing in the morning. There could be all sorts of rescue and brave hero style scenarios. My set-ups with Elf battling Darth Vader would look much better if he was dressed in this!
  3. Elf Sweet Shop Set. When Edward the Elf plays with food in our house he doesn’t have any cool props. He’s just sat next to it. I’d love to get him looking like he has been making or eating it. Even teaspoons are too big really. Boy2’s weaning spoons are a better size, but the handles are too long.
  4. Scout Elf Letter to Santa Kit. This shrinks your letters to Elf size. Do I need to say anymore?
  5. Complete set. If you haven’t ever had an Elf but like the idea. This set gives you an Elf-sized bed and swing but it also includes an Elf.

Elf on the Shelf Letter to Santa Kit

Where for art thou Elf?

All the above accessories come in at under £20 (price correct December 2017). The Scout Elf himself retails for around £30 but you can get all kinds of cheaper options. Buy one that suits your budget. As well as Amazon, there are a lot for sale on Ebay.

On the high street The Works had some brilliant Elf accessories for only a couple of pounds. I did buy some Elf glitter dust and an Elf washing line from there this year. Do you need Elf ideas?

The external links are Amazon Associate links. If you click through and buy from Amazon using them, I will receive a small commission. It helps fund Toy Infinity.

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Elf on the Shelf Ideas Board Game Set-ups

Elf on the Shelf Ideas

This is the first in a series of blog posts with ideas for Elf on the Shelf antics throughout December. If there are printables that I’ve made involved then follow the links in the post in order to download them and print them at home. I hope they give your children a smile like they do mine. I’ve been doing the Elf on the Shelf since 2013. My eldest two have been talking about Edward coming back for a couple of weeks.

There are a whole host of board game inspired scenarios that you can do for each day. If you do a few of them that could be up to a week of movements with very little thought. Let’s face it when you remember at midnight that you haven’t moved the bloody Elf then very little thought or work to find props is a bonus! Certainly every day in our December doesn’t look like a Pinterest scene of Elf perfection.

Twister

One of the most successful! I love Twister (not so much after babies, you know the pelvic floor isn’t what it was), the kids love Twister, why shouldn’t the Elf? Download my Twister printable to use at home. It’s A4 sized. Use blu-tack or double sided tape to stick Elf on. Even better get Barbie and Ken involved too! Elf Twister.

Elf Twister Download Printable

Uno

Any card game like Uno are a great set-up idea. Select their favourite toys from the toy room and deal out the cards as though they are playing.

Pie Face

They have to play Pie Face. Or Splat if like us, you have the cheaper pound shop version. Try not to get any squirt cream or whatever you use on his hat because then you have the issue of washing him afterwards. We only got Splat last year so I’m looking forward to using it in some set-ups. Elsa is definitely getting used.

Chess

Our Elf doesn’t play Chess properly. He lies in the middle of the board like a toddler having a tantrum. We have a Mario Nintendo chess set which is really colourful and goes with the Elf craziness well. It’s always fun to add in a little Bowser craziness too.

Balloons

Take their favourite game with the smallest pieces and put them into a balloon and then blow it up. Hang them from the ceiling with string and write a note on each balloon from the Elf gloating because they can’t play it. If I could put Top Trumps cards in them I would. I seem to spend hours playing Top Trumps.

Randomise

We recently reviewed Randomise. The Elf and his friends enjoyed playing it overnight. I’m not impressed without his drawing skills though….


So there are a few ideas for Elf ideas with the board games you have in the home. If you use the Twister printable I’d love to see a picture!

Happy Elfing x

Twin Mummy and Daddy
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20 Arts and Crafts Stocking Filler Ideas for Under £5

Arts and Crafts Stocking Fillers

I always think a stocking should be for small gifts and surprises; save the big presents for under the tree. I have put together my 20 favourite arts and crafts stocking fillers available at Amazon UK. This blog post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my link I earn a small commission, which in turn I will probably end up spending on stocking fillers!

 

 

 

Christmas stockings hanging by the fire

  1. Stickers. Obvious but cheap and cheerful and you can buy them anywhere. Pound shops are brilliant for these.
  2. Bendaroos. Keep an eye out for discounted Bendaroo kits. They’re mess free and are useful travel kits. The small kits can be picked up for just a few pounds like this 3D pet kit.
  3. Tissue paper. Pound shops are great for this.
  4. Craft foam. It’s a little bit different to just using paper and card.
  5. Paint. For mess minimal painting break the £5 with water soluble paint! I have blogged about my love for the Crayola washable paints before!
  6. Buttons. For older children only. Haberdasheries tend to be the cheapest places for buttons but craft shops and pound shops also stock them.
  7. Fuzzy felt. Or cheat and buy a square of felt and get them to make their own shapes.
  8. I’ll call them interesting pens! You know the sets with a special white pen to change the colour of your writing.
  9. Paint your own gift sets. Pound shops often have branded versions for less than £5. We liked this Paw Patrol set last year.
  10. Stensils.
  11. Decoupage papers or pretty papers to use for decoupaging anything they can get their hands on.
  12. Googly eyes. You can never own too many googly eyes!
  13. Coloured card.
  14. Cartoon adhesive tape.
  15. MDF shapes to create special gifts but they are also great for creating present gift tags.
  16. Scrapbooking and card making embellishments. These don’t have to be expensive (although some of them are) keep your eye out for sale stock at certain times of the year and keep them to one side for the next occasion. January is particularly a good time for the Christmas stuff for next year.
  17. PVA glue. Don’t bother with Modge Podge or posh stuff. PVA glue or watered down PVA and you’re good to go.
  18. Fabric squares. Either buy them or make your own from old clothes or fabric you already own.
  19. Beads and sequins. Again, older children only!
  20. Exercise books. My children love creating in books rather than sheets of paper. Go boring with school-type books or jazzy ones from Paperchase.
One final thing..

Notice there is absolutely no glitter! There’s a good reason for that….

For more Christmas blog posts see my favourite Christmas stories or some unique personal gift ideas.

 

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The Annual Christmas Eve Photo

Look at my Christmas Eve photo… Please

I never imagined how many goes it would take to get a Christmas Eve photo under the tree that wasn’t a disaster zone. It’s not too much to ask for two children to look the same way, smile, not pull a stupid face, resist poking/punching or irritating each other. Every year I remember why I usually have a glass or two of mulled wine first. This year I can’t drink. I’m not sure how I’ll do it to be honest lol.

Christmas Tree Reflection

I’ve started dropping hints already. One photo after the party. Something to send the grandparents and put on Facebook. It will take two minutes. Except it won’t: it will take at least 15 and most of my camera battery. I will either use a threat of the naughty step (which doesn’t work) or bribery with chocolate (better results – positive parenting…)

I’m even letting them choose their clothes. That’s supposed to be an incentive. Apparently, it’s not. This is one Christmas tradition that they would like to disappear. The New Year memory jar is much more popular.

So if you see a fairly nice photo of someone’s kids on Facebook click like because it has probably cost them some sanity and ended in a vow of never again.

Merry Christmas photographers x

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How to Survive the Elf on a Shelf

 

Like most bright ideas the Elf on a shelf can either be brilliant or end up being the biggest bane of your life ever. Here’s how to make the Elf as painless as possible.

Elf Rules

  • Don’t try and recreate Pinterest, unless you have a never ending budget for little props and added extras.
  • Keep it simple. Use toys already lying around, or anything in the house.
  • Try and make them laugh. Using pants always achieves this.
  • It’s not a who can do it best competition, it’s only a 30 second window first thing in the morning, I guarantee he’ll be ignored for the rest of the day.
  • Watch for the inevitable Facebook posts on how brilliant the Elf is in certain houses. Try your best to remember it’s not a competition….
  • Bringing gifts from the pound shop on one or two days out of the whole advent is very popular (and cheap). Things like candy canes are good ideas or Christmas selfie props.
  • Prepare yourself for him being knocked over at least once, and the resulting tears (can be yours).
  • Most importantly, don’t forget him lol.

Easy Elf on a Shelf Ideas

  • Playing games with other toys (preferably with toys that can sit up unaided!)
  • Pulling an old Christmas cracker from last year with a plush friend.
  • Use string to hang from one side of the room to the other and suspend him from it.
  • Pants. All over the Christmas tree, anyone’s but mine any how.
  • An Elf breakfast. Think the film, and pile loads of sweets in a bowl. The added advantage is you can eat them afterwards!
  • Reading books. Especially if you pick their favourite stories.
  • Paper snowflakes. Little bit of work but all for the price of a couple of sheets of A4.
  • Download free colouring sheets as presents from him. For 15 minutes peace leave instructions for a colouring competition he’ll judge with a small prize the next morning.
  • If you don’t mind mess the flour Angel scenario is always popular.
  • Christmas cards. They can send Christmas cards you know.

Whether you have an Elf or you don’t, look on it as a bit of festive fun. It really shouldn’t make your life more difficult, and let’s be honest your children aren’t going to complain about a less than professional set up.

Enjoy! And be glad it’s only once a year lol.

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Christmas Stories We Read Again and Again

Story time happens at least every night at bedtime. More often if it’s a rainy day or the word bored is mentioned. Books are probably the most important things we have in this house. This list are their favourite Christmas stories. I’ve linked to them on Amazon so you can take a look at them (affiliate links).

Our favourite Christmas stories
Christmas stories

Christmas Stories

 Santa is Coming to Wales

So this one isn’t much good if you don’t live in Wales but we love this one. So many places are name checked in it on Santa’s journey around Wales delivering presents. It surprised me how many they recognised. The one place not mentioned that you might expect it to be is Cardiff! Rest assured they point this out every time we read it. There are a lot of other titles like Santa is Coming to North Wales and Santa is Coming to Cardiff so you can maybe find a book that covers your area in more detail.

You can find it here on Amazon.

The Elf On The Shelf

They love this Christmas story. Helps them imagine Edward our elf flying back to the North Pole every night. A nice rhyming book, with some lovely illustrations.

You buy the book and elf together here at Amazon UK.

The Christmas Eve Tree

Not the most cheery festive story about a young homeless boy and his little bit of Christmas tree but it makes a nice change to stories about stockings and presents under the tree. My favourite part is the art work it is gorgeous. It has a nice ending that does leave you with the feel good factor.

Available at Amazon.

On This Special Night

An animal orientated introduction to the nativity story. Instead of shepherds and Kings the animals follow the bright star. Both of mine loved this as 2-3 year olds and it caught their attention a lot more than any talk of the real nativity story. The pictures are beautiful and softly drawn giving it an old fashioned feel. Admittedly at 8 my son refuses to read this story anymore but my 4 year old still loves it.

Not widely available anymore but some copies from 1p at Amazon

The Empty Stocking

The story of two twin sisters one naughty and one good. It has a nice ending and it’s one of my favourites. The illustrations are brilliant and the description of Santa in the house is very detailed and I love that about it, gives him a bit more character. It is one of my favourite modern Christmas stories.

Available at Amazon.

The Night Before Christmas

The ultimate Christmas story. We read this every Christmas Eve. The words flow so easily and it is one of those rhyming stories that will never sound old fashioned. We have a new version with some really nice illustrations. To me Christmas Eve is all about biscuits, hot chocolate and this book.

This is our version but there are a lot of different versions available.

 

Don’t forget you don’t have to buy books, it is always worth a visit to your local library and borrowing some for December.

I hope you like our list of favourite Christmas stories on our book shelf. We add to it every year with a new story around the theme of Christmas. Comment below with your favourites and suggestions.

 

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Christmas Activity Advent Calendar! 50 Family Friendly Ideas

Christmas Activity Advent Calendar

 

I started this when my son was 2. He was one of those children that needed to have his mind kept busy because a bored G was a million miles an hour. A Christmas activity advent calendar is also a cheap, fun way of introducing family activities throughout December. Here are some of the ideas I have used in the past, and some I will be using this year.

Here are 50 of my favourite family friendly activity advent calendar ideas.

Activity advent calendar ideas

  • Watch a Christmas film together.
  • Make your own popcorn.
  • Christmas colouring (download some sheets from the internet if you don’t have a Christmas colouring book).
  • Go for a walk to see people’s Christmas lights in your area.
  • Make snowman soup.
  • Decorate a Christmas banner (I use one from The Works).
  • Make paper chains.
  • Decide on dinner and help cook it.
  • Choose 5 toys you don’t want to give to charity.
  • Christmas treasure hunt.
  • Write your letter to Father Christmas.
  • Choose a Christmas story from the bookshelf and we’ll all read it together.
  • Make a nativity scene out of Play-Doh.
  • Talk about your best bits from this year – what are you proud of?
  • Write and perform a short play about whatever you like.
  • Go Christmas shopping for your sibling.
  • Make Rudolph out of handprints.
  • Write a Christmas card for your grandparents.
  • Let’s make Christmas themed chocolates.
  • Help make the Christmas cake.
  • Choose a treat activity like the cinema or Winter Wonderland to enjoy.
  • Shall we visit Father Christmas today?
  • Decorate Christmas biscuits.
  • Decorate and build a gingerbread house (you can usually find these in the shops for about £5).
  • Decorate the Christmas tree.
  • Make Christmas cards for your teachers.
  • Make paper snowflakes (of all different colours – just avoid yellow snow!)
  • Make home made Christmas coloured Play-Doh. Recipe can be found here!
  • Make a pine one bird feeder and hang it out in he garden.
  • Play musical bumps or musical statues to a Christmas album.
  • Go for a walk and see how many red and green things you can find and collect.
  • Collect leaves and make a Christmas coloured leaf rubbing.
  • Do Christmas themed puzzles (a great website is Activity Village, they have loads of fun and free printables).
  • Choose a special Christmas Eve breakfast.
  • Hang your stockings up! Have you left Father Christmas a treat?
  • Do two chores for Mum and we’ll play a board game.
  • Family board game night with hot chocolate and biscuits.
  • Do something kind for a classmate or your teacher today.
  • Family competition on the WiiU – you can pick the games.
  • Watch a Disney film we haven’t seen before (not Zootropolis again!)
  • Go to a Christmas fayre.
  • You have the camera take some Christmas photos for our photo album.
  • Go into Cardiff to see the Christmas lights.
  • Phone someone just to say hello and make their day.
  • With Mum’s help make some cool shaped crayons.
  • Choose a treat for Guido the bunny for Christmas (or any pet you might have).
  • Make a Christmas picture or collage to go in Dad’s office (and one for Mum too!)
  • Let loose with the glitter an decorate some star shapes for the Christmas tree.
  • Can you sing Jingle Bells backwards? A prize for the person who can!
  • Make mince pies and non-alcoholic mulled wine.

I hope these ideas give you some inspiration for your Christmas activity advent calendar. All of this is centred around one thing: they are all things I can do with the children (and the other half when he isn’t in work). For me, Christmas is all about them, and I hope they remember the run up to Christmas for the fun things we did together.

Disclaimer: yes these fun things don’t prevent the usual arguments and I try and tailor them to how full their day is. Any after school activities it’s something short and sharp. The weekends are for baking and the lengthy stuff.

Merry Christmas!

Mummascribbles

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Christmas Tree Decorating SOS and my Christmas Tree Cheat

My Christmas Tree Dilemma

That’s how I feel every year when my children happily chuck every last piece of tinsel and baubles onto the tree at their level. Try as I might I can’t help move decorations up a bit to balance it out or remove the hideous red tinsel that doesn’t go with anything else on there. Pre-children everything matched on my Christmas tree. Now they choose a decoration for next year in the January sales and there’s no thought about matching or will it go!

Kids and Adults Christmas Tree Debate

I know I’m not the only parent who would love to ban them from decorating the Christmas tree. But, that would be mean and totally against the spirit of Christmas. So, I have come up with a solution. I have my own tree!

Isn’t that a bit greedy?

Before you get excited about the thought of me buying two Christmas trees I have a cheat. The children have the fake tree I bought with my then boyfriend (now husband) in 2000. It still looks fab. Me? I wait until Christmas Eve! If you go to B and Q on Christmas Eve they are selling real Christmas trees for a couple of quid. That is my tree.

It goes in our living room (away from the toys and chaos of their room). Every decoration is tasteful and matches nicely and it isn’t all dumped in the bottom foot and a half of the tree. I usually have a glass or two of mulled wine at this point (this year it will be mulled punch – not the same – I hope my unborn son appreciates my sacrifice lol). But you can’t beat the smell of a real Christmas tree.

So think of me Christmas Eve happily decorating my tree, drinking mulled punch, and singing to myself. While my children watch of course…… Ready to torture myself with the Christmas Eve photograph lol.