Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Science Toys, Activities, and Equipment

 


2013 Award
Magic School Bus Weather Lab
(The Young Scientists Club $40 Score:)

A bus-shaped science kit features the clever Ms Frizzle's weather experiments that our testers were eager to try. They made a tornado in a bottle, constructed a barometer, used a sun-dial and more. They learned about tracking and keeping a log of the weather with a thermometer, rain gauge, wind vane and compass. There are 28 experiment cards, weather station base, wind vane, plastic cup with rounded top, measuring cup, sponge, thermometer, pinwheel, 3 pieces of clay, peat pellet, paper plate, string, dish, 2 cardboard circles, bar magnet, 3 plastic tubes, straw pencil, index card, petri dish, weather chart, data notebook, snake model, anemometer, bottle connector, and 2 sticker sheets for budding meteorologists.

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
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 Amazon.com.

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

One of a series of science kits for younger children. This explores making all sorts of bubbles by making wands and using them to make prints, sculptures, colored bubbles, gliding boats, jumping pepper and more. It comes with a supply of pipecleaners, wandsm bubble solution, funnel and best of all, an excellent 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 Kitchen 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: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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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 Awards
4M Bubble Science
(4M Kidzlabs $12.99 Score:)

A great way to explore the science of bubbles! Includes a tray, a pyramid framed wand, a cube frames wand, other shaped wands, yarn, straws, wand sticks, a mouthpiece to form a cone shaped blower, a small container of bubble solution and best of all an experiment booklet for making all sort of bubble magic happen. You will need to add more dish washing detergent. Younger kids will need your help with reading the directions and your participation in making some of the experiments work. That said, this is an interesting kit that our tester really loved. Making a bubble within a bubble took some try-try-again efforts, but in the end there was triumph! 5 & up with parent's help. 8 & up independently.

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

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2012 Award
Small World Bouncing Balls Kit
(Small World Toys $19.99 Score:)

Kids can make eight small sparkly bouncing balls with this easy to do kit. It comes with an easy to fill mold and water bowl. You pour some of the colorful beads from one of the five packets. Add water to the water bowl and let them stand for two minutes. Wait another two minutes and open the mold! Voila! You have a bouncing ball the size of a Jacks ball to play with. Our tester said you can buy a bouncing ball that will bounce higher, but that is not the same as making one. This is a little bit of chemistry, reading to follow directions and a finished product for active play. A good choice for play date or nice birthday gift. Finding craft kits to appeal to boys as well as girls is rare. This is one of those gender free products. For 6 and up. Adult supervision will be needed.

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

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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 Amazon.com.

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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 Amazon.com.

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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 Amazon.com.

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