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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 

 
Awards
LeapPad3
(LeapFrog $99.99 Score:)

A new, improved, 5-inch touchscreen and Wi-Fi protected content that keeps kid safe but gives them access to more content. This is the fastest 5-inch tablet that us designed to withstand drops and such unavoidable wear and tear. It has kid-friendly web content that is 100% pre-screened and approved by learning experts and has 4GB of memory; enough to allow kids to store 20,000 photos plus a two-megapixel front and back cameras and a video recorder for young film makers. It has a built in rechargeable battery. LeapPad3 includes 10 Apps:Music player plus 10 songs; Pet Party, 5 utility apps and a choice of 1 App download. Like previous LeapPads it gives kids access to a learning library with more than 1,000 games, ebooks, and videos approved by educators. For more memory (8GB and a larger 7-inch screen consider the LeapPad Ultra XDi ($129) comes in green and pink. 3-9

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

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2014 Awards
Faber-Castell Gel Crayons
(Faber-Castell $15 Score:)

Delicious! That is the best word to describe what rich beautiful color you get from the 12 Gel Crayons you get in this set of washable gel crayons with intense colors. The blue gel crayon pictured here is just one of a dozen brilliant colors. They are nothing like any crayons you have ever used. An exciting new medium that will invite kids to develop their creativity as well as their dexterity. Using big arm motions these crayons glide over the paper leaving bright lines that are as bold as tempera paint without the problem of dripping. They do not blend as well as ..

paint, but they do offer an easy way to encourage kids to explore color, line and expressing themselves in non-verbal ways. The set comes with 12 buttery crayons in chunky plastic that turns up as the color is used. Includes red, yellow, orange, dark blue, grass green, black, silver, neon yellow, neon orange, neon pink, neon blue and neon green. Color on textures and it shows through. They say these can be used on windows and mirrors and washed off; we have not tried them that way.These are marked 3 & up, but we suspect these make a better choice for slightly older kids. For interesting ideas on how to use these and other art projects visit greatartstartshere.com

Also fun, but water-soluble, try Faber-Castell Gel Sticks that can be applies like crayons and then wet them with water and paint brush to transform drawings into water color painting.

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

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2014 Award
Manhattan Toy Groovy Girls Blissful Bubbles Bathtub
(Manhattan Toy $25 Score:)

Who but a Groovy Girl would have a satin lined bathtub? Of course, this fantasy tub can take no water or bubbles, despite its fancy name. But it is perfectly proportioned for one Groovy Girl doll at a time. Comes with terry towel and a few other bath accessories. For the Groovy Gal player and collector. 3 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Playmobil Wild Life, Noah's Ark
(Playmobil $95 Score:)

Not surprisingly, this is subtitled, Noah's Ark, even though a lot of the animal pairs you might have expected to be here are not. Noah and his wife are here and the Ark could take a lot more passengers. That said, there are 101 pieces in the box and plenty of play potential. You may want to add the African Savannah elephants and rhinos to the other African animals in the set, i.e. giraffes, lions, zebras, monkeys, parrots, and ostriches. There is food on board, a ramp for getting off and on. A classic play setting for the ages. 4 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Madame Alexander Play Travel Friends
(Madame Alexander $16.95 Score:)

Dolls from around the world have been around for ages. Your own collection may have been strictly for display and dressed in traditional costumes of each country. However, 21st Century foreign dolls are meant to be played with and are dressed in modern attire. A charming doll of India wears silk-ish clothes but not a sari although she has an embroidered elephant on her sleeveless blouse. All of the collection comes with abundant hair to style and joints that bend for active playing. These are definitely girl dolls not fashion dolls like Barbie. 3 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Disney Planes Fire Rescue Attack Launcher
(Disney $19.99 Score:)

Ready, aim, fire! Three light-weight foam planes can be launched 15 feet with this squeeze trigger toy. It has lights and sound when the red tab on back of the launcher is pulled back. Aside from pulling the trigger, this is a toy that will get them up and running about to pick up the planes when they land. Not exactly big physical play, but more active than most. They say 3 & up, we'd say more like older 4's and up and those that have the judgment not to aim it at your favorite vase. Itís not like a dart or heavy projectile, but although the planes are lightweight, this is a toy that will need supervision.

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

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2014 Awards
Corolle Mon Classique Graceful Emma Drink and Wet Bath Baby
(Corolle $67 Score:)

For many years Corolle has had an anatomically correct bath doll, Emma and Paul (both award winners in 2005). New for 2014, they've added an African-American Emma to the mix. Just like the original she comes with a potty, feeding bottle, pacifier and is dressed in an undershirt and underpants. Having a doll going through potty-training can often help your own toddler make the transition!  We hope they'll add an African-American Paul to the collection.

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

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2014 Awards
Corolle Bebe Graceful Pink Doll
(Corolle $84 Score:)

Graceful is adorable. She comes in a pink and white romper, a headband with a bow and a pacifier.  She is one of the new additions to Corolle's classic Bebe line  which means she has a soft body, vinyl arms, legs and head. Her brown eyes close when you place her in a sleeping position and because of how she's weighted she will also sit up on her own. A lovely doll for older toddlers and preschoolers- pricey, but very special.

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

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2014 Awards
Corolle Mon Bebe Classique Happiness Doll
(Corolle $84 Score:)

The latest from Corolle's classic multi-cultural 14" Bebe collection. She has a soft body with vinyl arms, legs and head - all with their signature vanilla scent. Comes in a floral romper, a matching scarf for head, adorable sandals and a pacifier. Her blue eyes open and close when she's put in a sleeping position.  We also loved: Bebe Classique Valentine Doll - she comes in a pale grey dress with a pink sweater. There is also a very sweet African-American version  - see our review of Bebe Classique Graceful Pink.  We love that these dolls are so huggable and because they're weighted in their bottoms,  they will sit up on their own.

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

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2014 Awards
Little Tikes Splish Splash Sink and Stove
(Little Tikes $26 Score:)

This is the buy of the year as toy kitchens go...the tabletop toy has a working faucet that circulates the water in the sink for splish-splashing good fun. Unlike so many toy kitchens, this really has a sink big enough to wash dishes, not to mention getting to play in water. However there are two issues you need to know up front:  1) no soap bubbles* are allowed since they might clog up the works and 2) real hand strength is needed to get the water action going. Of course, this can be messy, but good play often is exactly that. Adding to the value, this combo sink and stove takes up very little space but has a lot of pretend play built into the affordable mini-setting. The stove has knobs that click and the young chef will love cooking with and cleaning up a fry pan two dishes, cups, and cutlery that comes with the set. 

*the manufacturer says the thick soap suds might clog up the pump, but suggests that watered down dish soap or bubbles won't hurt the plastic and should be all right.

SNAP: Put this on a table top for kids who are in a wheelchair. The water faucet does require hand power and may be too hard for some. It is otherwise a terrific water toy/ pretend prop for dramatic play.

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

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