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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys

 


2015 Award
Magformers Walking Robot Set
(Magformers $109 Score:)

Robots on the go, that's what kids can build with this 45-piece set of magformers because these robots have feet for walking about! The kit comes with step-by-step instructions or you can watch the action on you tube for a fun demonstration. Like other sets, this is marked 3 & up, but is really more appropriate for the 5-8 age range. They will be able to follow the plans and benefit from doing so, though fives will need help. If you can't wait to buy this for a preschooler, you'll find this is more like a parent-child toy with you doing the building and your child waiting to do the playing. Want to involve them in the building, ask them to help you find a particular color or shape. Doing it together gives them strategies for independent bulding down the road. We think this is a better choice for 5-8.

 

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

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2015 Award
Magformers Walking Dinosaur Set
(Magformers $219.00 Score:)

A marvelous 81-piece set of magnetic shapes and plans for building many different dinosaurs that will actually walk after they are built. Given the big outlines of the magnetic pieces, these are not highly realistic looking models, yet very satisfying approximations. Best of all they can be loaded with a power pack that brings these extinct giants to life. There is a step-by-step direction book and you can watch them being assembled on a you tube demo. Like other sets, this is marked 3 & up, but is really more appropriate for the 5-8 age range. They will be able to follow the plans and benefit from doing so, though fives will need help. If you canít wait to buy this for a preschooler, youíll find this is a more like a parent-child toy with you doing the building and your child waiting to do the playing. A much better choice for 5-8. Note: The price on these sets are very high-but we've noticed that they are discounted if you shop around.

 

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

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2015 Award
Magformers Heavy Duty Set
(Magformers $199.99 Score:)

Wowee! You have to see all the ways this construction set can be transformed into vehicles that builders can then play with by remote control. The 72-piece set comes with a powerful motor that activates a fork lift, snow plow, bulldozer, dump truck, tunnel borer, to name just a few of the possible working models. Note: the motor has a labored sound that our tester commented on. That said we were pretty impressed with the versatile collection of vehicles that can be built with this set. Check out the video of this toy to get a sense of its many possibilities. Marked 3+, we would say this is a toy is really for early school years, 5-8's, not preschoolers, unless you plan to make this a parent-child toy with you doing the building and your child mostly doing the watching. Note: The prices on these sets are very high-but we have noticed that they are being discounted if you shop around. 

 

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

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2015 Award
Magformer 44 Piece Unique Set
(Magformers $99.99 Score:)

You'll be amazed at all the constructions kids can make with the five geometric shapes that come in this 44 piece set. It includes squares, sectors, arches, cones and sphere sectors. A step-by-step booklet will show the way and before long they will be making their own creations. These magnetic building pieces are safe since all the magnets are inside the geometric forms. Happily, they are also compatible with all other magformer sets. Marked for 3 & up, but will probably be a better choice for older 4-7. Like other sets in this line, these are open-ended, even though they come with models kids can replicate.

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

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2015 Awards
Light Stax 36 piece Light-up Building Blocks
(Light Stax $39.99 Score:)

All the plastic bricks are the same square size, though in many colors. They come with a base to build upward and outward on. Build patterns, designs or figures. Once you have them in place throw the switch on the base and enjoy a lightshow. Builders can give them a steady light with a 15 minute automatic off or for more fun turn on the flashing mode or try the fade out. Makes an original short-term bedside lamp or timer for lights out. Marked for all ages over 3 but probably a better choice for 5-8.

 

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

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2015 Awards
Guidecraft Power Clix Solids
(Guidecraft $99 Score:)

A 70-piece set of translucent magnified pieces in geometric shapes. These handsome pieces are an invitation for kids to explore creating new shapes and forms. It's a more open-ended kind of building material that can be used to make abstract designs rather than heavily representational art. Kids are likely to reproduce what they see on the back of the box or in the creativity guide, but hopefully, before long they will try inventions of their own and learn about symmetry and balance in a hands-on unique way. This set, unlike others in the collection is designed for the younger players and all magnets are embedded inside the plastic for safety. 3 & up.

 

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

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2015 Award
LEGO Juniors Supermarket Suitcase
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

For your older preschooler and early school age child who has outgrown Duplos and is ready for a little more complex building, this 134-piece Lego Juniors Supermarket Suitcase is a great transition set. It includes an easy to build supermarket with an ice cream bar, vegetable stand plus a bright red scooter and two mini-figures and a cat. It becomes a mini-setting for dramatic play as they sort the fruit and other accessories, such as flowers, bread, bottles, and veggies. Testers liked all the small details, including a cash register, money and ice cream. We think it's unfortunate that this one is packed in pink.Supermarkets are fun for boys and girls and this one could have been gender neutral.  That said, it is a fun set. 4-7

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

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2015 Award
LEGO Juniors Fire Suitcase
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

For that older preschooler and early school age child who has outgrown his duplos and is ready for more complex building, this 134-piece Lego Juniors Fire Suitcase is on the mark. Kids can build a fire helicopter, motorbike and a base station. It includes a number of fun accessories for dramatic play: 2 firefighter minifigures, a water hose, map, barrier, fire and lights. Includes easy instructions for the easy build. 4-7

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

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2015 Awards
Guidecraft 74-piece Organics-Powerclix
(Guidecraft $80.00 Score:)

Colorful translucent plastics in interesting new magnetic shapes give kids a new range of possibilities for creating some amazing constructions with 74-pieces in eight different shapes. There are instructions for reproducing some 3-D constructions and following those pictorial instructions will challenge kids to stay with a task and use visual clues as they hone their eye hand skills. But it's not just about reproducing a model. These pieces allow for discovery and open-ended creations. This is one of those STEM toys that gives children hands on experience with symmetry and spatial concepts and will be interesting to both girls and boys. 5 & up. [Safety Note: This is marked 5 & up for a reason. There is a straight piece that would not be appropriate for younger children who mouth their toys. In fact, if you have a older child that still does that - we suggest removing this particular shape from the set.]

 

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

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2015 Awards
Lincoln Logs 100th Anniversary Set
(KNEX $73 Score:)

A giant size tin container holds a 111-piece set of Lincoln Logs; truly a collector's item with all wooden pieces. This is your dad's all wooden Lincoln Log set...if he is old enough. In any case, it is just the way today's grandparents remember their Lincoln Logs before premade plastic eaves and roof pieces came along. A great set for multiple kids to enjoy together. Pull this out of the closet if you have frequent visiting grandkids. It will keep them busy and why not get down on the floor and build a village of log structures with them. Labels on Lincoln Logs are often marked for 3 and up. Forget that! All a three year old can do is watch you build, knock them down or be frustrated trying to build them up. Save this for your older 5, 6 and 7 year olds and be prepared to work with them until they get the hang of how the logs fit together and how to stack the roof pieces so they donít all clatter down. Kids get a real sense of accomplishment from learning how to do this and trying to assemble different structures. It calls for visual discrimination as well as dexterity and problem solving. This is no instantaneous toy. It takes patience and thinking.

 

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

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