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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
Paint Your Own Porcelain Party Kit
(MindWare $39.95 Score:)

An engaging kit with a porcelain bowl for six party goers to decorate. We love that each guest will have their own "party set up"  including a paint brush and a customized gift box. We would have thrown in more than the 12 paint colors to cut down on any possible friction for any particular color.  For the price this is less expensive than going to a make-your-own store and will make a memorable party gift. Parental supervision will be required for the baking aspect of the kit.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Paint Your Own Porcelain Tea Set
(MindWare $29.95 Score:)

Ohh la la! If you have a tea-party fan in your midst, this is great fun. The set comes with a small tea pot, four cups and saucers, a creamer and sugar bowl, 12 paint colors, a brush and tiny invitations.  We really loved the super clear instructions that take you through the process of washing the pieces, painting them, letting them dry for 24 hours, and then baking to set the paint. A charming activity kit that will likely become a treasured keepsake. 

Safety Note: Due to the baking aspect of this kit, adult supervision is a must. Also it's good to know that all  porcelain tea sets are properly  marked 8 & up - however we all know that  tea parties happen with dolls and bears long before this age. For younger kids we would recommend tin or plastic-both much safer. 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Gamewright Dodge Dice
(Gamewright $12 Score:)

Unlike many dice games, the goal in Dodge Dice is to avoid points. The game comes with 10 dice. One is the "penalty" points die that tells you how many points you'll get if the round doesn't go your way. There is also an action die that makes things happen like all your points are doubled or tripled (not good!) or you can pass all the points to another player (mean but good!).  There are also skip chips that allow you to avoid the penalty points. Marked for 8 & up and designed for 2-6 players. Rounds will be fast. Our testers thought this was a fun twist on traditional dice games.

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Gamewright Sushi Go!
(Gamewright $12 Score:)

We're not going to lie. We got hungry for sushi while playing this fun card game. For a generation of kids that are familiar with sushi, this will be a hit. The goal is to get the highest scoring collection of sushi. For example if you add wasabi to your nigiri - you'll get triple points. Each player gets a certain number of cards to begin (depending on how many are playing). From that hand you keep one card, place it face down. Now here's the fun part-- you pass your hand to the next player.  This keeps going until all cards are played.

There is some strategy involved in what cards you collect. For example if you have the most number of dumplings, you get six points -- but if you don't the have most - you have to subtract six points from your total score.

The instructions take some time (and a grown up) to figure out but then it starts moving quickly. Marked for 8 & up and rounds take about 15 minutes to play for 2 to 5 players.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Janod Mila Plays Fairy Puzzle
(Janod $19.99 Score:)

Bring home this carrying case with four small puzzles inside. Here, Mila and her friends are dressed in fairy costumes with wings and magic wands. For preschoolers, present the simple 6-piece puzzle first. Then move on to the 9-piece puzzle. On another day, introduce the 12 and 16-piece puzzles. These are going to be challenging since the backs of the puzzles are not color-coded and the background on three of the four puzzles is the same. Parents will need to sort them out if the puzzles get mixed together. Each of the four puzzles comes in its own plastic baggie. They need to be kept separated. Naturally, they get progressively harder, so you may want to put the harder ones away and introduce them gradually. That said, the picture cues on the carrying case will help. Marked 3-6; but we think this will work best for 4's who have done lots of puzzles; not for beginners.  Walter’s Scooter is another of the puzzle sets of four related puzzles.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Janod Who Am I? Game
(Janod $19.99 Score:)

Who Am I is a two player attribute game that is something like the classic game of Battleship for younger players. Each player picks one animal face that the other player cannot see. Players take turns asking questions about their opponent’s animal. Does your animal have glasses? If the answer is no the questioner crosses out all the animals with glasses. A marker is provided with a sponge eraser that removes the markings at the end of each round. By a process of elimination players deduce what animal their opponent has selected. This is a game that requires players to look at details and listen to clues. The game board reverses to reveal a whole other set of creatures. We have had other similar games, this one is slightly more complex and beautifully executed. They say 4-7, we think fours can play this with a partner but not solo. That said this is an excellent choice for beginning readers who need to learn about looking closely at details. Instead of looking for the fine difference between bed and bad, here the game is played with pictorial details that are less abstract for beginners.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Creativity for Kids Tape a Doodle Fashion Designer
(Creativity for Kids $28.95 Score:)

Our testers gave high marks to new Tape-A-Doodle line from Creativity for Kids and especially enjoyed this kit that has a fashion designer theme. Comes with six different easy-to-use dispensers that have patterns for creating original "designs" in the  40 page fashion spiral book that has black and white drawings of clothing and accessories.  The kit says there is 100 plus feet of the pre-printed tape.   Trust us, you'll want more.  There's something very satisfying about the tape dispenser that makes it great fun to use. Also comes with color pencils and some stickers.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Janod Princess Carriage Floor Puzzle
(Janod $14.99 Score:)

In a royal coach that looks a lot like Cinderella's there is a young princess with a cat and a friend. Might be fun to make up some stories about who this friend might be and where they are going. But, first things first—putting the puzzle together is going to be the challenge. Designed for the younger pink set, this 39-piece floor puzzle has giant pieces. Though this has so many pieces, it does have outline cues that are strong and easily recognizable. Since children like to redo their puzzles multiple times, we look for those that can stand up to the wear and tear and remain interesting, too.  Like other Janod puzzles, this one is sturdy, attractive and comes in a suitcase for storage. 5-8

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Janod Pierre's Helicopter Puzzle
(Janod $19.99 Score:)

Bring home this carrying case with four small puzzles inside. In the easiest puzzle Pierre is seen flying alone. In the 2nd puzzle he appears to be bringing in someone who is injured. Puzzles 3 and four show Pierre about to leave and actually flying away. For preschoolers, present the simple 6-piece puzzle first. Then move on to the 9-piece puzzle. On another day, introduce the 12 and 16-piece puzzles. These are going to be challenging since the backs of the puzzles are not color-coded and the background on three of the four puzzles is the same. Parents will need to sort them out if the puzzles get mixed together. Each of the four puzzles comes in its own plastic baggie. They need to be kept separated. Naturally, they get progressively harder, so you may want to put the harder ones away and introduce them gradually. That said, the picture cues on the carrying case will help. Marked 3-6; but we think this will work best for 4's who have done lots of puzzles; not for beginners.   Walter's Scooter is another of the puzzle sets of four related puzzles.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Janod Circus Puzzle
(Janod $14.99 Score:)

Before or after a trip to the circus, it's fun to work on a puzzle with images that remind kids of the fun. Janods 54-piece circus scene has tons of details to help with fitting it together and to pour over and discuss when it’s done. Kids will love the round red carrying case for safe keeping. Kids do their puzzles more than once and may need help if they are transitioning from larger pieces to smaller more challenging puzzles. For many, this is not an instantaneous build. Getting kids to take the time and return to problem solving with a challenging puzzle helps to develop important stick-to-it habits. Since children like to redo their puzzles multiple times, we look for those that can stand up to the wear and tear and remain interesting, too. 5-8

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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