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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers
Categories: Pretend Play

 

 
2015 Awards
Hape Geometrics House
(HaPe $59.99 Score:)

A totally modular wooden doll house with geometric units that can be rearranged in endless ways. Rooms include a triangle, polygon, and divided rectangle. Build it side ways, stack it high like a condo, whatever way the imagination takes you. Comes with furniture and play figures. Ideal for beginning dramatic play that lends it self to language development and story telling. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Calico Critters Family Seven Seater
(International Playthings $39.99 Score:)

Built for a large family of Calico Critters, this navy blue seven seater has an open air top, doors that open on either side, a door to the trunk and wheels that really roll. It has two seats up front, two full benches and car seats that fit over the benches for the littlest passengers. Of course, the passengers are not included. Don't be deceived, they show critters on the box. But if your kids collect these cute little families, this will be a welcome prop for pretend play. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Janod Grand Prix Story Pop-Open Play Set Case
(Janod $49.99 Score:)

Pricey--but a most unusual puzzle that becomes a wonderful miniature play setting. Stored in a grandstand box that opens (and holds all the playing pieces) there is a 21-piece cardboard track that can be put together in many different shapes. In fact, there are drawings of some of the ways to do this that will challenge kids to experiment. Our testers like the open-endedness of the tracks that allows for  variety. Once the track is assembled let the races begin. Four colorful little wooden racing cars with drivers ready to go come in this road and track set for young players 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Diggin Kitchen
(Diggin $45.99 Score:)

A compact kitchen with stove top burners, an oven door that opens, storage for the wooden accessories, the spoons, spatula, knife, fork plate pizza, egg and donít forget the pepper shaker(might be salt, you know.) All made of eco-friendly bamboo and trims in pink and blue. When play time is over it all packs away in a storage box with easy to tot handle. 3 & up.

SNAP: A good choice for tabletop pretend play that will fit on a wheelchair table or accessible surface.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Diggin Tool Kit
(Diggin $49.99 Score:)

An eco-friendly bamboo wood playset with tot size tools are perfect for pretend building. The kit includes a mini-workbench with hammer, screwdriver, wrench, screws, nuts, bolts and wooden building pieces. This is a pricey minit tool set, but it will go the distance and even allows for some building.  When the fun's done, put all the pieces into the box and it stores away or take it along for repairs at Gramma's house. It has a handle for serious builders who have work to do away from home. Ages 3+.

SNAP A good choice for table top pretend. This sturdy set allows kids with limited mobility a mini setting for pretend play. 3 and up

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Neat Oh Dinosaur Brings Along Backpack
(Neat-Oh $19.99 Score:)

This is for the youngest dinohaulic, the one who likes to take his dinos along. The small green vinyl backpack opens to reveal a world where dinos can roam on a small playmat.  It comes with one T-rex figure. 3 & up

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Neat Oh Dinosaur Zip Bin 160
(Neat-Oh $23.99 Score:)

How to keep order to the oh so many little pieces of play? Here's a creative and playful solutio. A colorful storage vinyl box where all those dino plant eaters and meat eaters can be contained between playtimes. Unzip the corners and there's a big mat with swamps, trees and rocky ledged graphics where dramatic play can come to life. A lidded transformable box comes with two dino figures with room for lots more along with a setting for hours of imaginative play. 3 & up.  

Also nice for take along fun, Neat Oh Dinosaur Brings Along Backpack(19.99)

SNAP: Play settings and boxes for storing playthings can enhance playtime. Clean up time becomes another opportunity to sort playthings, as well. A storage box for animals, aone for vehicles another for blocks, perhaps can go a long way to staying ahead of chaos and a much better idea than one big toy box where everything gets lost in the shuffle. We like the idea of the big play setting that unzips with these Neat-oh containers.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. 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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2014 Awards
Little Tikes Ultimate Cook Kitchen
(Little Tikes $150 Score:)

Our test family gave this kitchen setting very high grades. Our three-year old tester's mom tells us "he is having a ball with it..." He loves every detail of this kitchen and especially likes to make them Cappuccino and asking them if "we need some coffee?" She likes the fact that it went together easily and is also being enjoyed for pretend play by his six and seven-year old siblings. Although some of the hanging pieces do not stay in place, they had no complaints. It has been used daily since it arrived and as our tester's mom wrote, she is impressed with the durability of Little Tikes products... "if three boys can't destroy it, it has to be made well." We like the fact that his kitchen is not gender specific and will be enjoyed for years of dramatic play by boys and girls. 2 +

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

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2014 Award
Disney Doc McStuffins Get Better Talking Mobile
(Disney $49.99 Score:)

Forget the old black Doctor's bag that kids played with for generations. Young medics now have a van that is loaded with lights, sounds EKG, stethoscope, thermometer, and bandage dispenser to care for their ailing dolls or playmates. There is even a gurney and seat for the teddy bear or doll in need of medical attention. Oh, and yes, it even plays the Doc Mobile song. A very large piece of plastic with a ladder and door that didn't always stay on; but that said, for Doc McStuffins fans found this is a play setting with lots of potential.

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

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