Our testers spent several happy afternoons driving around in this new kiddie car that runs on foot power. It has a front castor wheel for added maneuver-ability. With a working horn and ignition key there are miles of pretend fun with the easy Turn Coup. As an added bonus, it can be used with younger riders that an adult can push along, however, there is no safety belt. There's a removable floorboard to protect little feet when they are being pushed. Also nice, this has a front trunk storage area and cup holders for both child and adult. 1 ½ & up.
Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Remember your old inflatable bop toy? You punched it and it popped right back up. A classic that has always been great for letting off steam or pent up energy on long winter days when going out is not possible. They were standard fare, although they often deflated into a useless heap after the patch kit was misplaced. These days there are still plenty of vinyl bop toys around, but this new collection comes with a choice of cotton fabric covers that will reduce the chances of the inflatable getting a quick knick. Choose a friendly brown bear, a goofy penguin, or a smooshed grey elephant. They are made of eco-biodegradable vinyl that will eventually disappear rather than clog up the land fill. Yes, they are pricey and we hope the small start-up company will be able to bring their price down before long. That said, it is a toy that will see a lot of action. 2-6
SNAP:A great toy for active venting without getting scolded for punching or kicking. It's also big enough to be enjoyed by kids who are 5 or even 6.
Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.
We had so many inquiries from our testers who were interested in bubbles that glow that we had to try them! Here's the scoop. When you add the activation solution, it does seriously glow. This is a chemical reaction that happens very quickly. The downside, is that the bubbles themselves do not glow very much, but when they land, they do leave a glowing residue (that doesn't stain). The glow lasts for four hours. So you may be disappointed with the actual bubbles, the majority of our testers still thought the solution lighting up was pretty cool. We hope they can eventually find a way to make the bubbles glow!
Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Finding a low-to-the-ground ride-on that actually steers but doesn't tip over is not so easy. At last, we have good news! This yellow construction truck is a combo fun for beginning walkers it can be used as a push toy and for foot to the ground riding. Sound buttons on the steering wheel will make a hit with toddlers and happily for adults, it has a volume control. It also comes with a detachable toolbox for beginning pretend play-for the older tots. The seat is more comfy than the company's earlier ride-on dump truck. This is really basic gear for active play and building big muscles. They say 1 & up. We say this is best for toddlers who are steady on their feet, which is often a little later.
Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Covered in a soft terry cloth like material, these colorful fabric balls have stitched on features and knotties that baby can grab and probably chew on. There are lots of zany looking choices in many color combinations and in two sizes. One is a little bigger than a baseball the other is slightly bigger than a softball. All are soft, washable and have a nice rattle sound. Use them with infants for tracking. The bold black and white eyes will catch their attention--and the sound will not startle. Older infants will like crawling after them and for early social games of roly-poly. Preschoolers will find these easy and soft enough for learning to catch and throw. All Ages.
Age: Infants, Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Just right for your little gardener who will love having his own tools and easy to push wheelbarrow to assist with the family gardening! The wheelbarrow was slightly challenging for our builders to put together. It would have been easier if they had had a power drill or power screwdriver for the task. We've found that many of the plastic toys for the past few seasons require more assembly than before. That said,
this wheelbarrow offers lots of pretend power once it's put together. Comes with two pretend potted plants. Our testers especially loved that it had a working water sprayer (easy to fill up). There is a
removable striped canopy for shade protection. Great fun for outdoor play. 2 & up.
Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
A fun new water table for the older toddler/preschool set that is chockful of interesting things to do. The center post has a spiraling ball drop that's see thru so that you can watch the ball move downward and come out the bottom. There's a water wheel and, our favorite, a ferris wheel for the balls. Comes with a a little fish that squirts water and cup for filling and dumping. The table has a veryeasy to access drainage hole - important since you do not want to leave water in this table with toddlers afoot. Be sure to drain and supervise the use of this and any other toy that has water involved.
Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Fans of Cars2 will want this large Mater Bubble Blower when they see it in the store. Unfortunately, we found that the bubble blowing aspect of this toy doesn't work as well as we had hoped. You have to push pretty hard to get some bubbles to come out the side of Mater. While we applaud the battery-free aspect of this toy, it would have been more pleasing if the bubbles came out of the top and were more plentiful. Our parent testers also did not like that the bubble solution drips easily out the side of the toy when you pick it up ("solution is really sticky when it pours down your leg!").
Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
A terrific older toddlers and preschoool toy! Most bowling sets are hard for kids to set up. The pins fall over too easily. Or you can buy the fabric bowling sets--and most of them are too hard to knock over. This set, on the other hand, gets it just right. Each of the pins has a wide base--just right for preschoolers to handle on their own. And as an added bonus, you can stack the pins to make towers to knock down. How cool is that?! Comes with a red plastic ball. The pins each have a decal face to put on...our personal favorite, the one that looks like Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live. Older twos will need help setting them up, but anyone who plays with toddlers, knows how toddlers like to knock things down. Marked 3 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.
SNAP: Use these lightweight but much easier pins to involve kids in active play. Use them for counting fun to reinforce beginning counting skills. How many were knocked down? How many are still standing? For kids who are learning to write keeping a score card is motivation for pencil and papers skill. For kids who cannot write, keep score with raisins or crackers for each point. In the end count them together...making piles of 5 and enjoy for a snack.
Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2011.
Our preschool testers enjoyed going through this six foot tunnel. Some of our parents thought that the joints could have been more padded--but our kid testers didn't seem to mind. This tunnel works with the company's tents in their Eric Carle Very Hungry Caterpillar series. The tunnel has a mesh top so that you can watch your child work their way through -- also a plus for a younger child who may otherwise be tentative about going through a solid enclosed tunnel. We also liked how easily the tunnel folds up -- making this a great choice for smaller play spaces.
The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.
SNAP: This is a good choice for developing gross motor skills. It's a real challenge but offers an open mesh view that makes it more kid friendly.
Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
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