Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
Play Like a Pro Basketball Hoop
(Little Tikes $72.99 Score:)

Basic gear for active play! This adjustable hoop (from 4 to 6feet) makes this a great choice for preschoolers and early school aged kids interested in learning how to shoot some hoops!  Light enough to make this a choice for inside or outside play.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Lottie Kawaii Karate
(Arklu $19.99 Score:)

Our testers continue to love the active life style of their little Lottie dolls. Just 7-inches tall, with silky hair and painted faces, these are girls - not fashion dolls. They are jointed and able to stand. Just the right size for the hand or to fit for many doll houses. Each comes with a backstory that involves the girls in typical activities. This season Kawaii Karate Lottie is ready for class; her object is to win her yellow belt. Add separate outfits for Gymnastics, soccer or boogie boarding. Or consider a Lottie Robot Girl is entering the science fair and hopes to win with a robot she is building. Our Lottie fans also liked the Pandora's Box Lottie, who works in an animal shelter; Pirate Queen, a mariner Light House Keeper, and Butterfly Protector with her own net. Marked 3 & up, we think the fine motor skills for dressing and redressing these dolls will challenge kids under 5.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Lottie Robot Girl
(Arklu $19.99 Score:)

Our testers continue to love the active life style of their little Lottie dolls. Just 7-inches tall, with silky hair and painted faces, these are girls - not fashion dolls. They are jointed and able to stand. Just the right size for the hand or to fit for most doll houses. Each comes with a backstory that involves the girls in typical activities. This season Robot Girl is entering the school science fair; her project is building a robot with recycled materials. Her Busy Lizzie the Robot project is sold separately. Or consider a Kawaii Karate Lottie dressed for karate class where she hopes to win her yellow belt. Our Lottie fans also liked the Pandora's Box Lottie, who works in an animal shelter; Pirate Queen, a mariner Light House Keeper, and Butterfly Protector with her own net. Marked 3 & up, we think the fine motor skills for dressing and redressing these dolls will challenge kids under 5.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Krazy Kars Max Traxxx Tracer Racers
(Skullduggery $29.99 Score:)

Awesome. If you're looking for a car track set, look no further. First, the set comes with two cars that have LED lights on the bottom (you can change the settings to adjust the type of pattern the car will leave on the track). Yes, the cars leave a trace of LIGHT. Did we mention that the tracks will light up in the dark from the LED lights?  Our testers loved  both leaving LED on all the way--this lit up the entire inside of the track or putting the LED lights on pulse...which left a broken pattern on the track. Either way - this is a hit. The tracks go together well and come with suction cups so that you can make two ramps and race the cars.  The company tells us that there is a patent pending, we just know this is sooo much fun.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Sparkup, The Magical Book Reader
(Sparkup $59.99 Score:)

Connect this new piece of technology that uses a tiny camera as its "eye", and a tiny computer chip as its "brain" to record the pages of any book you read into it. The little wonder of a machine can memorize lots of books or you can store your recordings on the computer. The magical part begins when your child turn the pages of a real book, looks at the pictures, and listens to the story in any langugae, at her own pace. The electronic book reader knows what page to read. You can send the recording via computer to a grandchild who can download to her own Sparkup reader—of course, for long distance sharing you need two Spark-ups. There are a few books that are prerecorded and come on your reading machine. The company promises more books to come. But the magic of this is that you can record old favorites, even hardcover books that you grew up with or today's newest paperback picture books. You do not need to go buy an all new library. Nor are you stuck with typical non-books made to work only with a manufacturer's newest gismo. This is a clever device for beginning readers to use as they listen and follow along to the words on the page. You can also record your child reading and send it to Grandparents across the miles. Or personalize your reading and leave it for kids to listen to when you are out for the evening or out-of-town on business. A lot of Military families are going to like this as another way of connecting.


SNAP: A sure fire way to enhance the beginning reader experience. As listeners kids develop eye sweep as they follow along with the recording. They learn about the mechanics of a book from front to back, from left to right. THese are skills that all kids need to try on before independent reading develops.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Deluxe Roominate
(Roominate $49.99 Score:)

Welcome to a new world of doll houses! It's a doll house for kids to design, build and electrify. This one is less about interior decoration and more about engineering. A terrific concept for getting girls involved with problem solving and spatial skills, and building circuits. The deluxe kit comes with a light and motor and tons of building pieces and craft materials. Elizabeth, our 8-year old tester, LOVES Roominate. Her mom reports, "She has created some really cool rooms--and I love that it's so open-ended. She loved hooking up the battery, doing the wiring - and using the paper to design the wallpapers. It's a great toy for girls because it encourages building, electrical and engineering skills and isn't too "girly." I would say that I think age 6 is probably too young for independent play with Roominate. At age 8,  Elizabeth read and followed the directions and had lots of ideas about what she wanted to build and how to do it. "

The company says 6, we agree with Elizabeth's mom and suggest you save this for 8's and up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Power Tower Trackset
(Mattel $44.99 Score:)

If you're a fan of Hot Wheels Wall Tracks, you'll want to know about this latest addition to the line. The Power Tower features a central corkscrew track that brings the cars up to the top of the structure. Comes with one Hot Wheels car (we always think these sets should come with at least two!) and the magical 3M Command Strips that make it possible to temporarily place the structure on the wall. (We'd recommend not placing on wallpaper. During one of our first trials we did not pull the strip down sufficiently and as a result removed some paint from the wall. This was on us. If you follow the instructions, the Command Strips work well.)

This set kept three of our toy testers well entertained. What's nice about these sets is that they can be combined with others to create a truly amazing wall of tracks. Something some of us only dreamed about as kids!

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
LeapFrog Learn to Write with Mr. Pencil Stylus and Writing App
(LeapFrog $14.99 Score:)

Our testers practiced their upper and lower case letters with the big easy-to-grasp stylus, Mr. Pencil, that works on an iPad (once you've downloaded the APP).   While we're not big on most APP-gear, this one makes sense. We also liked that the instruction for making letters was correct (and included both upper and lower case letters). (Remember Joanne taught over 300 children how to write!) The APP also includes instruction for numbers 1-20. While the toy is marked for kids 3 & up, we'd say a better choice for the older preschoolers and early school years.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Rainbow Loom
(Rainbow Loom $34.99 Score:)

The Rainbow Loom is clearly the run away toy of the year! We started getting emails from our toy testers about the must have loom that has generated so much interest (and youtube how to videos). We love a toy story that involves a small company that just hits it  HUGE.  Our parent testers told us that they helped their kids get the hang of it, but once kids learn how to use the loom they're off and running. A great craft that allows kids to make bracelets for themselves, their friends and family members.  The set comes with a loom, hook, instructions and more than 600 latex free rubber bands - will make 24 bracelets. Move over Elmo, the Rainbow Loom is the hot toy of 2013.

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Tinker Toy Pink Building Set
(KNEX $49.99 Score:)

If you have a girl who's not interested in building, this all pink 150 piece set may do the trick. We know that building helps develop important math, visual discrimination,  and problem solving skills - so it's very important that girls have this type of play experience.  Today's Tinker Toys are somewhat different from what you may remember. These new sets from KNEX are all plastic. They have the same rods and spools like the old sets, but now they have really neat bendy rods and faces that make them even more fun.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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