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2014 Award
Mudpuppy Shadow Puppets, Monster Mania
(Mudpuppy Press $16.99 Score:)

Eight laser cut monster faced shadow puppets on sticks come in this set that invites kids to explore the science of making shadows and the ancient art form of storytelling with those shadows. These come with no premade story. Cast the shadow on a light or white wall with a flashlight and let the action begin. Try using them to dance to spooky monsterous sounding music or tell a story of three monsters, a la Three Bears or create a totally original story. There is also a set of premade Madeline shadow puppets for younger players. They are marked 3 & up, but this is really a toy that is more appropriate for school aged players.

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
Mudpuppy Shadow Puppets, Madeline
(Mudpuppy Press $16.99 Score:)

Eight laser-cut shadow puppets on sticks are ready to lights and action as kids retell some of their favorite Madeline tales or make up their own stories based on thie classic adventures of young Madeline. The puppets give kids a chance to explore the science of making shadows and the ancient art form of storytelling with those shadows. We were surprised not to find all those girls in a long straight line as one of the puppets, but this set does include Madeline, the Eifel Tower, a house all covered with vines, Miss Clavel, and several of Madeline’s friends and pooch. Older kids will enjoy the Monster Mania set in the same line. Marked for 3 & up, we think older 4 and 5 year olds would be better able to make this happen.

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
Mudpuppy Cooper Hewitt Magnetic Letters
(Mudpuppy Press $17.99 Score:)

A set of 40 upper case magnetic letters with patterns selected from the Cooper Hewitt Museum collection. These have full magnetic coverage on the back instead of the old fashioned little magnets that were typical of letters you may have played with on the fridge. 3 & up

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

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2014 Awards
Green Toys Submarine
(Green Toys $14.99 Score:)

Kids are going to love this fish-shaped submarine that not only floats, it can fill up with water (thorough the mouth and portholes to be submerged. Lift it, let it spill and spout and it floats again! Perfect for tub-time and pool. There are no small parts so this is fun for toddlers and preschool play. Made of 100% recycled plastic this is also dishwasher cleanable. It comes with a book that is mostly forgettable for the very young, but that said, this is a wonderful water toy! 12 months and up, up, up.

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

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2014 Award
Green Toys Seacopter
(Green Toys $19.99 Score:)

With two spinning rotors-one on top and one on the tail, this bright orange and blue Seacopter has pontoons for floating on the water. A teddy bear pilot is in the forward position. Good fun for dramatic play in the tub, pool or on dry land. Made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic products that are tested for safety. There is also a regular helicopter (16.99) in the line sans water pontoons for dry land only. This Seacopter is more unusual and versatile. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
LEGO CREATOR Turbo Quad
(Lego Systems, Inc. $24.99 Score:)

The 3-in-1 series is always a hit with our testers who love the ability to take their models apart and try their hand at another two builds. This one has instructions for the Turbo Quad, a Monster Truck or a Buggy. With 186 pieces, this is a beginning/ intermediate build for kids 7-12. Also new in this line this year, the Twinblade Adventure (models also include making a biplane or helicopter). For even smaller builds, look at Red Thunder (66 pieces) and Power Digger (64 pieces) - ideal for stocking stuffers.

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

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2014 Award
LEGO CITY Monster Truck and Race Car
(Lego Systems, Inc. $9.99 Score:)

Both of these small builds are a great place to start with LEGO builds. The truck comes with 78 pieces, the race car with 100 pieces. Quite affordable for birthday party presents—especially when the parties come in rapid succession! 5-12

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

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2014 Awards
Mudpuppy Eric Carle Brown Bear Puzzle Wheel
(Mudpuppy Press $15.99 Score:)

Designed for the toddler beginning puzzle player. These two-sided puzzles have a center wheel that the other pieces fit around. One side of the puzzle is pure color matching. The reverse has patterns to match as well as characters from the Eric Carle books to know and name. There is a Very Hungry Caterpillar puzzle as well as this charming Brown Bear puzzle. The pieces are stored in a handsome round box. Ages 2 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Seedling French Knitting Spool
(Seedling $15.99 Score:)

A classic spool to knit long cords that can be stitched together to make doll clothes or bracelets or whatever young designers fancy. The wooden spool is painted like a white and red spotted mushroom and has good-sized loops to wrap the yarn around. It comes with a generous amount of yarn for initial designs, though, kids who get into this craft, will soon be asking you for more wool! Our package had lavender yarn, but the colors may vary. Knitter’s scrap wool is ideal for multicolored projects. 5 & up.

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
eeBoo Patchwork Design Tiles
(eeBoo $19.99 Score:)

There seem to be so few open-ended toys left - so when one comes along we get very excited. Patchwork Design Tiles comes with 64 triangular pieces that have different "patchwork" patterns on them. Players can place them on the included grid to make any design that comes to them.   The inside of the box also comes with suggested patterns for kids who want to follow along.

 

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

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