Christmas Eve is just around the corner. And here at Education.com, we've got a mailbox full of goodies. We've separated the wheat from the chaff, so that you don't have to. Here are our top picks for your child's stocking.
Zoo Set: This tiny box of fun comes stuffed with 12 painted animals. Perfect for on-the-plane or in-the-car fun. Each animal is equipped with a tiny string for hanging on the tree, just in case your kids are willing to share with the rest of the family. With critters this cute, it's doubtful. $9.75 per set. www.crossroadstrade.com. Ages 3+.
Doctor's Car: In addition to being a kid-favorite, Lego is a top teacher pick. That's because using all those little bricks improves fine motor skills –- which children need to perfect in order to learn to write. Lego has quite a few offerings this year at $15 or less. Our favorites are from the Lego City line. The Doctor Car is a 26-piece set with a small vehicle and tiny physician, ready for action. www.lego.com. $5.99. Ages 4+.
Charlie and Lola: Charlie has a little sister named Lola who will NEVER eat a tomato! She is also not sleepy and will not go to bed. And how will she cope when she is not well and may never smile again? It falls to Charlie to win her around, and he uses every trick in the book – logic, humor, but mostly, the power of his imagination. This DVD brings the distinctive artwork of Lauren Child's award-winning books to life. Finding an uplifting, positive, non-violent movie for young kids is no easy task. This is a great choice. $14.99. Ages 4-7.
Playaway: Some kids love the feel of a book in their hands. But for those who don't, here's a way to get them engrossed in some of literature's best stories. These are ready-to-listen-to audio books, without the need of a player. It's all included – even headphones. Kids can brush up their Shakespeare with recordings of Othello or A Midsummer Night's Dream. But more likely, they'll go for titles like Eragon, Artemis Fowl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or Charlotte's Web. www.playawaydigital.com. Prices start at $30 per title. Ages 6+.
Myndology Notebooks: For many, presentation is everything. And these little notebooks couldn't look better. They come in an assortment of sizes and can be hooked easily onto a backpack or into a binder. Paper or index cards can be removed and reinserted at will. A great way to keep homemade flashcards together, or to jot down a homework assignment. www.myndology.com. Prices start at $1.39. All ages.
NAMiTS: When a mother of seven comes up with a product, we think it's worth a look. These heavy-duty cards offer an open-ended brainstorming challenge for everyone in the family. Players answer questions like "Name things that sparkle" or "Name things that are funny." Even the youngest members of the family can participate. www.greatamericanpuzzle.com. $9.95. Ages 4+.
Cute Cards: Letter writing is a dying art. Give kids a reason to practice their penmanship with these quirky cards from The Land of Nod. The "Know When to Fold 'Em" set re-creates the paper fortune tellers you probably made in your childhood, but with updated messages like "Check your email – a cool surprise is waiting." And the "Plane as Day" collection offers colorful maps that can be transformed into paper airplanes. Write on! $12 per set of 16. www.landofnod.com. Ages 8+.
Princeton Review Pocket Prep: Admit it – you want your kid to study for the SAT, but you're tired of nagging them to do it. Consider slipping one of these babies into their stocking. Small, sleek, and videogame-esque, this device can help teens practice their math and hone their vocabulary on the go. www.franklin.com. $149.95. Ages 14+.
Airline Gift Card: What to get for the kid who has everything? How about a trip that opens her mind to something new? Several airlines offer gift cards, but we say go for ease of use. Southwest and American Airlines both offer cards that can be loaded up with any amount and redeemed simply – perfect to pay for a college visit, a trip to our nation's capital, or any other educational or entertaining excursion you have up your sleeve. www.aa.com or www.southwest.com.