Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers
Categories: Science Toys, Activities, and Equipment


2014 Award
Primary Science Lab Gear
(Learning Resources $19.99 Score:)

Forget the princess dresses and firefighter outfits--for the new generation of STEM*-minded kids, bring home a lab coat and adjustable lab glasses for doing their science experiments. The goggles are intended for dramatic play only - they are not safety glasses. That said, this is a fun dress-up costume for 3-6 year olds. Nice addition to the Primary Science Kits from the same maker.

*STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math)

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

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2014 Awards
Primary Science Color Mixing Set
(Learning Resources $29.99 Score:)

Young children are scientists by nature. They love to experiment, to discover how things work and this kit gives them tools for exploring the nature of color-mixing in multiple ways. No doubt your kids have done some color-mixing with paints, but this kit uses colored disks that are supplied as well as food coloring (which is not.) We like the eye-glasses frame with color disks that you can slide in to see the world through rose colored lenses, among other colors. This updated kit is different from the original Primary Science Kit, giving special emphasis on color mixing.There are also disks that fit on a top that spins and blends colors in motion. They have also included chunky plastic test tubes for mixing up colored ice pops, ice cubes, and other treats. There are 10 easy-to-follow activities on big cards that require little reading. Of course, this is a parent and child kit with activities you can return to from time to time. For getting kids started with STEM activities, this is a terrific introductory kit. If you want one more piece to add to the kit consider the Color Mixer Beaker ($9.95) with a dividing wall that allows you to mix equal parts of two primary colors to get a secondary one. It has a squiggly top that slips on the beaker and when you turn the beaker over, out comes a new color! There is no food coloring in either package, so you will need to supply that. You might want to use this beaker for mixing up other color combos with fruit juices, as well.

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

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2014 Awards
Clifford the Big Red Dog Food Science Kit
(The Young Scientists Club $19.99 Score:)

One of the award winning Young Scientist Club kits designed for preschoolers. These are age appropriate experiments for parent & child projects. An interesting way to introduce preschoolers to some fundamental science experiences. Most of the ingredients needed have to come from your refrigerator or pantry. The kit contains a paper booklet with recipes for each experiment and some minimal plastic pieces: a funnel, tray, test tubes, two so-called cups, a lab tray, pipette, spoon, clothespin, special papers, and sticks for rock candy making. Be forewarned, the images and text may be a bit confusing. For example, the recipe for making ice cream says to use a "measuring cup" and the illustration further confounds the confusion by showing a hand with a good size cup in it, but do not use your own measuring cup. You are supposed to use the thimble-size measuring cup in the kit or there is no way the ingredients will fit in the plastic bags they provide. An unfortunate choice of words or materials. That said, the ideas here are going to be appealing to kids and promote the world of STEM right from the start. 3-6

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

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2013 Award
Plan Toys Gears & Puzzles Deluxe
(Plan Toys $44.99 Score:)

Build the base with square puzzle pieces and then add the gears to connect them into a machine that can be activated by little hands. There are endless ways to make the pieces spin. This clever set comes with 24 pieces including one big gear that can activate the smaller gears. Call it preschool physics. Marked 2 & up. For 2's and younger 3's this will be a parent/child activity. Older preschoolers will like doing open-ended explorations to create unique 'machines' that they can play with and start all over again.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on

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2013 Awards
Learning Resources Science Plant and Grow Set
(Learning Resources $26 Score:)

For budding scientists, here is a 12-piece kit with see through rooting trays, pots, observation jar with vented lid, watering can, trowel, plant markers and best of all--10 on-the-mark activity cards that invite kids to grow a variety of plants. Use found materials, like the top of a pineapple, radishes, carrots, popping corn kernels, and a clove of garlic. For other experiments, bring home seeds for beans and chives. The round observation jar with a lid can become a small terrarium with plants found in the yard or park. The activity cards provide realistic gardening experiments that preschoolers can do with help from an adult or older sib. True, you could use many of the containers you own without the set, but this gives the process structure in a playful way. Hopefully you will do that, too. To enlarge the experiences, take photos as each experiment progresses to make a small personal log or simple personalized book of their growing experiments.  Our tester "loved planting the seeds and labeling the various pots. He lso loved wtering his plants. Finally, there is a clear rooting tray and an observation jar included with the set, so he loved observing his plants take root and grow within the soil. He had never seen how roots grow and develop before so it was a new experience for him."  They did report some things they thought were drawbacks: the set does not come with soil or seeds--so right from the start you need to buy things before you can start. The set also only comes with one observation jar even though there are five experiments that call for the observation jar. Our tester felt that the best part of the set were the in ten activity cards. They also gave Learning Resources high marks for having on line extension activities. 3 & up.

SNAP: This hands-on kit is an excellent set of activities that all children can enjoy on various levels. Involving children in the process is a very satisfying ongoing activity.

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

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2013 Award
Clifford the Big Red Dog Kitchen Science
(Scholastic $19.99 Score:)

One of a series of science kits for preschoolers. This one uses things found in the kitchen to make a volcano explosion, slime, crystals, fungus and more. The items in the kit include plastic test tubes, mini-volcano form, a small tank for making slime and other props. Best of all there is a wonderful step-by-step experiment book that will walk you through all these together activities. In the past, most of these experiments were more typically done with kindegarten, 1st and 2nd graders. That said, there is nothing in this kit that preschoolers will not enjoy trying. Clearly, this is not a solo toy, but rather a chance to explore together. They have also done a Bubble Science Kit and Rainbow Science. These are available at PBS Kids site and the Scholastic site. As of this writing they were not elsewhere. Marked for 3+, we think they make more sense with 5+.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2012 Award
Parents Bug Bungalow and Magnifier Set
(Manhattan Toy $32 Score:)

A nicely crafted bug-house with wooden sides and net roof. The see-through door slides easily and allows bug hunters to look inside with their wooden handled magnifier. A sturdy science toy for young nature explorers. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Award
Primary Science Mix and Measure Set
(Learning Resources $29.99 Score:)

Learning about measurement equivalencies comes built into this clever set of measuring tools. For starters you want to give kids a chance to explore how many cups it takes to fill the bigger containers and to discover that the tall and short two-cup containers are the same. The 12-piece set includes measuring spoons and 1/4, 1/2, and 1 cup measures, 2-cup and 4 cup beakers. A small scale is included along with some clever activity cards to use with your child. These science activities are recipes for creating bubble solution, puffy paint, clay, trail mix, slime stencils, mystery goo and other more basic measuring experiments. The well made materials and activity cards add up to a wealth of entertaining parent and child explorations that make early connections to science. 4 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Award
Kiwi Crates-Color
(Kiwicrate $19.95 Score:)

A new on-line series of activity kits that are incredibly well conceived and designed.  We sampled a COLOR kit where the activities include making spinning tops and collages. We usually don't love most science kits - but these were just on target for early school aged kids (and we'd say older fours with adult assistance). The materials are lovely and the instructions are clear.  One of the downsides of most science kits, is that the instructions become too complicated for most kids and adults.  Here, the instructions are a playful blend of written and pictorial. The site also invites you to post your results.

These kits are really terrific parent/child or grandparent/child projects that can be completed in an afternoon. We also tried the company's WIND kit that was great fun (but is no longer available). 

NOTE: This is a subscription service so we have not been able to test all the kits going forward.  To order the COLOR kit shown on the Today Show, click here.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
Talking Tubes
(Alex $27.99 Score:)

An update from the can and strings inventions you played with in school, this plastic set works really well to the delight of our testers young and old. It comes with 3.3 yards of yellow tubing with a red and blue telephone on either end. Go around a corner so that you can't see each other and whisper something. Your voice comes through loud and clear. An early science lesson about sound! 3 & up.

SNAP: For kids who are working on speech, this is a fun prop that will add playful fun to their efforts. Try a game of echo. Say what I say...start with one or two words and buld. Reverse roles and you say what your child says.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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