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2015 Awards
Playskool Stack 'n Stow Cups
(Hasbro $7.99 Score:)

These are not your typical stack and nesting cups. Instead there is a base and seven shallow rimmed discs shaped with easy to grab tabs. Each one has a cup-out shape in the center: a star, triangle, square, etc. The shapes can be stacked or nested in size order on the base or not. For stacking you will need to place the lion's face on the base. For nesting the pieces fit into each other and then can be capped with the lion's face and turned to hold it all together. Placing the lion's face in place for either operation will take adult hands. That said, this is a nice twist on an old toy concept that can be used to introduce and reinforce color names, shapes, size order and dexterity. Marked for over 9 months, be forewarned, chances are some of the pieces will be missing before your child is a toddler and able to do the size order part. That said, babies will like the multiple pieces to take apart, toss, teethe on and bang together. It's one of those toys kids return to and it can help develop eye hand skills and visual perception. A new twist on stacking and nesting.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
eeBoo A Lovely Day Panoramic Puzzle
(eeBoo $12.99 Score:)

Skating foxes, fishing turtles, picnicking bears and bunnies, bike riding mice are just some of the creatures on this action filled 3-foot long panoramic puzzle. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes this is a charmer with 36 big pieces. A nice birthday party gift. Also charming for a wintry scene, be sure to see A Snow Party panoramic puzzle. 3 & up

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Neat Oh Dinosaur Brings Along Backpack
(Neat-Oh $19.99 Score:)

This is for the youngest dinohaulic, the one who likes to take his dinos along. The small green vinyl backpack opens to reveal a world where dinos can roam on a small playmat.  It comes with one T-rex figure. 3 & up

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

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2015 Awards
Monopoly 80th Anniversary Edition
(Hasbro $20.99 Score:)

Need a gift for Grandma or Grandpa for a family celebration? This version of the original game comes with retro cards and money, wooden hotels and houses, and tokens that were used when the grandparents, parents and kids from the 30's to the Millennium played with. A perfect choice for keeping some of the crowd quiet and engrossed at your next family reunion. there is a fancier version of this with golden playing pieces. Game play and playing pieces are otherwise the same. 8 & up.

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

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2015 Awards
eeBoo Squirrel 24 Watercolor Pencils & Sketch Book
(eeBoo $14.99 Score:)

Newest additions to a line of beautiful watercolor pencils and sketch book art supplies. The colored pencils in their handsome tin provide a range of hues artists, young and old, will welcome. Draw with dry pencil and then use a paintbrush and water to turn drawings into paintings. Illustrator Monika Forsberg designed the red squirrel with a posy for bird. This makes a perfect gift for creative springtime birthdays or visits. 5-50+.

SNAP: Encouraging kids to work on pencil and paper skills can be enhanced by bringing home art supplies that are more fun to practice with than ordinary paper and pencil.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
eeBoo Dinosaurs at Leisure Panoramic Puzzle
(eeBoo $12.99 Score:)

A band of dinosaurs are playing all kinds of ball games while others are playing fiddles, harps, and electric guitar on this action filled 3-foot long panoramic puzzle. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes this is a winner with 36 big pieces. There's a lot to talk about and even spin some stories once the pieces are all in place. In a season when dinosaurs are big, this is going to be a wow-ee choice and a perfect birthday party gift. 3 & up

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

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2015 Awards
Neat Oh Dinosaur Zip Bin 160
(Neat-Oh $23.99 Score:)

How to keep order to the oh so many little pieces of play? Here's a creative and playful solutio. A colorful storage vinyl box where all those dino plant eaters and meat eaters can be contained between playtimes. Unzip the corners and there's a big mat with swamps, trees and rocky ledged graphics where dramatic play can come to life. A lidded transformable box comes with two dino figures with room for lots more along with a setting for hours of imaginative play. 3 & up.  

Also nice for take along fun, Neat Oh Dinosaur Brings Along Backpack(19.99)

SNAP: Play settings and boxes for storing playthings can enhance playtime. Clean up time becomes another opportunity to sort playthings, as well. A storage box for animals, aone for vehicles another for blocks, perhaps can go a long way to staying ahead of chaos and a much better idea than one big toy box where everything gets lost in the shuffle. We like the idea of the big play setting that unzips with these Neat-oh containers.

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

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2015 Award
Clifford the Big Red Dog Water Science
(Young Scientists CLub $19.99 Score:)

Newest in a wonderful collection of young science kits, this one deals with water and introduces children to some basic concepts such as floating, sinking, icebergs, and hands on experiments that allow kids to see the water cycle, phases from liquid to solid to gas. The kit itself contains almost all the materials you need to explore the activities in a 20-page manual that includes ways to make rain, submarine, foam boat, chromatography, and more. Plastic test tubes, mini-measuring cup, mini-sponge, pipette, lab tray and special tubes and papers for experiments. You will need to provide your own food coloring and for a magical experiment, some black pepper. Since these are essentially designed for preschoolers, you will be doing the reading. Basically, this kit is a parent intensive opportunity to explore and expand new ideas with your preschooler. Marked for 3 & up, we think this is probably a better bet for slightly oler preschoolers and even a good choice for 5 & up. Young readers will also like helping with the directions as well as the experiments.

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

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2014 Award
InnoTab3S Plus
(VTech $79 Score:)

If sharing your ipad sounds like risky business to you, there are a number of kid friendly tablets to consider. The InnoTab3 has a built-in camera with funny effects, a movie-maker, art studio, e-reader, and is a game machine with a library of add-on games designed to support reading, math, geography, handwriting and science. Comes with 12 apps and rechargeable Power Pack. Additional games are in the $16-17 price range. Parents tell us that kids liked the stylus and movie editor feature, but the graphics are less good than what kids expect at this point. Our testers gave a higher rating to LeapFrog's LeapPad3 in terms of graphics.

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

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My Monopoly
(Hasbro $19.95 Score:)

The new My Monopoly board game allows you to create a personalized Monopoly game, but, as our testors told us, it's not that easy to do. You can download the free My Monopoly app or visit www.mymonopoly.com to set up an account and personalize property spaces, game tokens, Community Chest and Chance cards to use in the My Monopoly board game. Choose your own photos from your computer or smart device and add captions to the photos. Then, you need to print them out on the sticker sheets, and you are ready to play. Our test families loved the concept, but found doing all these so-called simple steps a real challenge, that took too much stress, time and fun out of the fun. For all but the most savvy computer-able players, stick to Boardwalk.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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