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

 


2014 Award
Stacking Veggie Game
(Hape $30 Score:)


Talk about healthy living. Here's a Janga-style stacking game played with colorfully painted wooden veggies. Once they are stacked the object is to pull the greatest number of veggies without making all the others tumble. A 55-piece set. The playing pieces can also be used for sorting, counting and other original games. Marked for 3 & up, but we think you need more dexterity and predicting skills than most 3's have. We think old fours and fives would find it fun, if tricky.

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

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2014 Award
Wonder Forge Dr. Seuss Charades
(Wonder Forge $10 Score:)

Charades for the preschool set. Players select the Dr. Seuss Character they want to be. One player draws a card and picks one of three actions to act out. Other players guess what the action is. The player who guesses first and the actor-outer both get to move on the playing board. First to cross the finish line wins. There is no reading in this game so it is designed for preschoolers. However the playing board has some twists along the way that can send players backwards (like Candlyland) and may be upsetting to younger players. They say 3 and up, we think doing charades may be tough for most threes and some fours. You may want to save this for older 4-5 year olds.

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

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2014 Awards
Number Pops
(Learning Resources $19.99 Score:)

For the youngest players, this is a color matching game that also involves beginning counting skills. Marked for two and up, we'd say this is probably a much better choice for threes and fours. That said, we can see how kids will be attracted to fitting the ice cream shaped pops into the colored pretend shells on top. These are color-coded with dots on the ice cream matching the colored shell that is marked with a numeral. Aside from pretend play these can be used for putting them in numerical order as well as matching dots and numerals. Or play, "I'm thinking of a pop that is one less than 6 or two more than five. For two's start with 1-3 and no more than five pops and gradually add more pops once they have a good grip on 1-5.

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

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2014 Award
Magic School Bus Math Explosion
(The Young Scientists Club $29.99 Score:)

Math Explosion makes math a blast! Basically, this is a flashcard game, except it does not come with premade cards. You get to select the ones that match your child's individual needs. You go on line to print out the right ones to reinforce the child's skills level. Scholastic has provided your choice of addition, subtraction, multiplication tables and division problems that you print out on colorful paper they provide. The game board comes with a small mountain and container where the vinegar cup goes (be forewarned the mountain is a bit out of shape since it comes smushed with rubber bands to fit it into the box...and they do not provide vinegar or the baking soda needed for play, but it, that said, you probably won't mind. Here's how it works. Players take turns answering math facts and if they get the right answer they advance on the board... with a chance to add a spoonful of baking soda to the playing piece cup. The first to reach the volcano gets to pour the baking soda into the volcano. You could say this game is a blast, with kids racing to be the one to set off the explosion, which, by the way collects neatly in a tray provided. Science and math, a fun combo for kids at various grade levels. We generally do not encourage games that are designed around flashcards. They are not for everyone. Keep in mind, flashcards do not teach math, they reinforce it. For developing speed and memory they can be useful.  But for kids still struggling with basics you might want to find another way to build confidence instead of speed. 6-10

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

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2014 Awards
Crazy Pants
(Chatterbox Toys $20 Score:)

You'll like the quality of the art and feel of this sturdy board game that can be played in multiple ways—all of which challenge kids to use their listening and looking skills while also learning the rules of turn taking and the ups and downs gamesmanship. There are enough rounds so that kids can experience the fun of winning and inevitable alternative. There's no reading required but the games do play on matching, memory, color concepts, and listening. Cards can be used for Bingo style game, concentration, and sequencing. Develops a child's ability to see and hear differences as she finds not just a green dress, but a green dress with the purple bow. That kind of detail calls for more than chance, but is an important skill needed before reading. A good choice for 3-5.

Use this for language development as well as matching skills. A rich variety of games that can be adapted to your child.

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

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2014 Award
Diggity Dogs Game
(Educational Insights $14.95 Score:)

For five-year old dog lovers, Diggity Dogs is an ideal way to sharpen visual and social skills. Players each get a dog card at the start of the game that indicates three things this dog needs. Each player then takes two "go fish" style cards that show objects the various dogs need, such as a bone, ball, bed, a dish, etc. Players take turns collecting cards from the slush pile or barking and asking one of the other players if he has a needed card. When a player get all three objects pictured on her dog card she gets to adopt the dog and collect another dog. The player with the most dogs at the end of the game is the winner. A fun matching game for 2-4 players. For cat lovers, take a look at Kitten Caboodle, same idea but with kittens.

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

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2014 Award
Pancake Pile-Up!
(Educational Insights $17.99 Score:)

An active fun game that's a lot like an egg race only this one is played with pancakes--made of plastic. Here's how it works. Players pull a card that shows a stack of pancakes with strawberries, blueberries, banana slices and chocolate chips. Players have to race to stack and serve a pile of pancakes that matches the order card. Teams or two players compete to carry the pancakes on the spatulas and be the first to make a stack topped with a pat of butter. This is an active game that can be played like a relay race with teams or a two-player match. Challenges visual matching, dexterity, and speed. A good party game. They say 4 & up, we think older 5-8's will like it best.

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

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2014 Award
Crash
(International Playthings $19.99 Score:)

If you like Jenga-styled games, this is a fun variation. At first we could not imagine that it would work. The idea is that you set up four stories of towers (each has ten columns holding up the ring). Each player takes a turn pulling out columns and then adding that column above. While we had our doubts, it turns out that we could add all the other levels.  Great fun--but we believe this is a much better game for the 8 & up crowd, not the marked 4 & up.  The tension, not to mention the fine motor skills required to play this game  will be too much for many kids (and certainly most 4 year olds).

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

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2014 Award
Dream Cakes
(Ravensburger $16.99 Score:)

Dream Cakes is great fun to play. The idea is to create the "biggest" cake by adding to the cake plate with tiers, frosting, and toppings.  There are LOTS of pieces to this game designed for 2 to 4 players. On your turn, spin the wheel to determine which kind of cake piece you get to add to your cake. The added fun comes with the cake measuring stick. Depending on how tall your cake is you get ribbons with point values. The player with the highest points (when there are no more pieces to play) wins! The pieces are sturdy and have a lovely storybook quality to the illustrations.

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

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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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