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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2015 Award
Lincoln Logs Oak Creek Lodge
(KNEX $39.99 Score:)

This season's mid size Lincoln Log set has 137 pieces and a relatively simple build. A lodge built of traditional wooden logs with plastic door, windows and roof. Not quite your classic log cabin, by any means. Marked for 3 and up, this is simply not for 3's or most 4's. Getting the logs in place takes more visual and manual dexterity than any three year old can bring to it. You may have loved this toy, but if you are doing the building for them, you are simply diminishing of the real worth of this timeless building set. Save the Lincoln Logs for 5's, 6's and even 7's. That is when they can really figure out how these logs work and have the pleasure of making a house stand. For 3's bring on the wooden blocks or duplo blocks.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Peaceable Kingdom Dinosaur Escape Game
(Peaceable Kingdom $17.99 Score:)

Dinosaurs are everywhere this season, thanks to the new Jurassic Park movie. For younger dino fans, this Dinosaur Escape game is a more age appropriate entertainment. In this cooperative game players work together to help the dinosaur escape to Dinosaur Island before the volcano can erupt. Each player has a dinosaur playing piece, a mover. It's a game that involves counting, memory and turn taking to find a dinosaur behind a fern in the same habitat as the dinosaur you are moving. If you roll a T-Rex, watch out! All dinosaurs in play must move back to a start space. If you roll a volcano you place one piece of the volcano in the stand. The object is to find all three lost dinosaur tokens before the fifth and final piece of the volcano is built. Each round takes about 10 minutes. For 2-4 players ages 4 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Mattel Barbie Film Director, 2015 Career of the Year
(Mattel $ 12.99 Score:)

With her viewfinder round her neck and her utility belt on her waist, Barbie is ready to say, "Lights! Camera! Action!" Dressed in her jeans and pink knit sweater she has patterned scarf for a dash of glamour. Her flats are spares when her boots are ready to take off. Fortunately, she now has articulated ankles so she can really move at a new pace as she races to meet the deadline on finishing her newest, and no doubt award winning film! Voted the career of the year for 2015.

CHoose her as BLonde Barbie or brunette Nikki.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
eeBoo Trucks and a Bus Matching Game
(eeBoo $16 Score:)

A concentration matching game with more playful pieces than usual. Turn over all the trucks and the school bus and they all look alike. Now kids take turns flipping two at a time looking to make a match. There are 12 pairs to match with graphics that are colorful and feature distinctive animals and products that kids will enjoy naming. There's a robot supply truck, air mail with a bird carrier, fresh fish, ice cream, tiger cakes, and lots more. They say 3 and up...we think older 4 and 5 year olds will have more fun with this.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
K'nex Mighty Makers: Up, Up and Away Building Set
(K'nex $19.99 Score:)

Designed to appeal to girls, this is one of many models that K'nex has packaged with a female character and pastel building pieces. Though we think girls should not need gender speciafic building toys, we take seriously the fact that learning from building is a basic and too long overlooked. This Up, up and away set comes with clear instructions for building a small but satisfying airplane. Build it four different ways with directions for optional vehicles. 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Hape Path Finder
(HaPe $14.99 Score:)

A fun game for fours and fives to develop their math power and visual perception while they are having fun with colors, and turn taking. Dole out the playing pieces, roll the color die and place the right color and size in the maze; but watch out! If your playing piece won’t fit, the other player can try. The object is to be the first to get to the end of the maze. 4 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Learning Resources Take 10 Color Bug Catchers
(Learning Resources $14.98 Score:)

Roll the color and number dice and pick up the number of bugs in the right color as the dice say. Players use the special grabbers to pick up their bugs. The player with the most bugs wins. A good choice for reinforcing counting and colors along with fine motor skills. Quick fun for beginners who are learning about turn taking and winning and losing. They will also like using the bugs for color sorting, counting and their own games. Try using them for learning about patterns: put down a line of bugs in a simple pattern such as purple, yellow, purple, yellow, purple...what will come next. Once they get the idea, make the patterns more complex. Yellow, yellow, blue, yellow, yellow, blue...what will come next? Showing them new and creative ways to use toys will inspire them to create their own original games. 3 & up

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
eeBoo Creatures Big and Small Giant Really Big Floor Puzzle
(eeBoo $17 Score:)

48 big puzzle pieces come together in a busy wildlife scene by artist/animator Monica Foresberg. The finished image will be a giant 24 X 36 inch picture that will be good for talking about. This one has animals form all over the world in a single scene; a giraffe, polar bear, camel, lion, and snail among them. They are not drawn to comparative scale, so that might be interesting to talk about. In fact some of the really small creatures are depicted as much bigger than truly large ones. Will this be confusing? It's something you should talk about. Use the back of the box for beginners to follow for clues. Give them strategies connecting the frame with the straight edged pieces. Before long they will like the challenge of doing it with out looking at the picture. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Awards
Learning Resources Gears Build & Bloom Building Set
(Learning Resources $39.99 Score:)

Gears, Gears, Gears have always been a favorite of our testers. This new set, is clearly designed to appeal to girls with flowers and butterflies and bugs added to the basic gears. Done in bright pinks, greens, blues and oranges, the green base serves as the garden where the gears, bugs and butterflies can spin. A 116 piece set of gears comes with colorful stickers. An early science toy that invites kids to build basic machines by meshing the gears into continuous action. Problem solving and dexterity are built into the fun. 4 & up

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Hape Dynamo Dominoes
(Hape $39.99 Score:)

There is no one right way to build with the 100 colorful dominioes. Stand them on end and place the bridges, bells, rails and other tricks in their path. Give on a tap and watch the whole parade go tumbling down. An open-ended toy that probably will need parent-child building for starters. Predicting outcomes calls for some strategies that will come with experience. Develops problem solving skills as well as dexterity; most of all a fun kind of building designed to fall down! Marked 3 and up, but using it for this kind of building will be more like a late 4-5 year old trick.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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