Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Toddlers
Categories: Manipulatives

 

 
2012 Awards
Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza
(Fisher-Price $60 Score:)

Finding toys that are just right for sitting up babies and toddlers can be difficult. The Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza fills the bill.  You'll need space for this large "making something happen" toy that both older babies and toddlers will enjoy exploring.  There are two different ways for the big balls to go from the top of the structure to the base. Of course at first, you'll be making it happen--but soon enough your toddler will enjoy making the balls drop again and again.  The small green "gate" will be another aspect of the toy your child will enjoy pushing back and forth.  There is also an arch for babies to go under.  There is music that happily you can turn off and still enjoy the toy. A definite plus in our book. The tripod design of the base makes the toy steady but of course a cruising baby will still need a watchful hand. Our older toddler twin testers loved how the ball could be placed at the top so that it bounces off a platform onto the ramp: "high marks for innovative design." Comes with 8 oversized balls so if two end up under the sofa, you're not out of business. 

SNAP: This is big enough to satisfy slightly older kids who may not have the dexterity for more complex ball runs and tracks. Though our testers found this pretty steady, you may want to stabilize it with some tape to the floor. This is not just a good social toy that two or more can use, it is a great hands on setting for dexterity, tracking, color concepts and language.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Eric Carle 10 Stackable Learning Blocks
(Kids Preferred $20 Score:)

A surprisingly muted set of cardboard blocks designed with Eric Carle's images. There are images to name and know, colors to know, objects to count and numerals and letters. Basically, they will be fun for toddlers to stack in size order with help and even more fun to knock over. As for nesting them, that will come even later. Marked 6 months and up, but wed say this is a better choice for 18 months and up.

SNAP: A sturdy set of cardboard blocks make basic gear for languge games of knowing and naming as well as friendly way to work on size order. Start with two blocks instead of the whole set and gradually add more pieces.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
Hape Ring-Around-A-Rosy
(HaPe $45 Score:)

A classic toy for developing dexterity as well as imagination. Toddlers love sliding the colorful beads over the maze of wires. Safely tethered, the colored beads and rings are fun to move up, up, up and see them slip and slide down. This is a good manipulative plaything. Children often turn the beads into cars, people, animals or whatever they choose to imagine as they move them up and over. It's also a great plaything that opens the way to color names, sizes (the beads are of differing sizes) and even simple counting. There are ten beads on each of the maze wires. 24 months & up.

SNAP: Use this for developing fine motor skills as well as counting and color concepts.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Hape Countdown Wire Maze
(HaPe $39.99 Score:)

A classic bead maze that will get a lot of action. This is a smaller version than the Ring-around-a-Posy version with five wires. This one has just three wires that twist and turn and fewer beads. That said, it is probably a better choice for younger toddlers. There are big, medium and smaller beads for little hands to spin and turn over the colorful wires. Safely tethered, they give kids the chance to handle small beads that would otherwise be off limits. A classic plaything that develops fine motor skills, imagination, color concepts and even counting. 24 months & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
ELT Whizz Around Mountain
(International Playthings $54 Score:)

Push the light switch on top of the mountain and watch the little cars speed down the spiral runway. Add the plastic boulders and they can chase the two little cars that can stick together or run solo. There's a switch on the runway to release the boulders separately from the cars. Loaded with batteries the lights will flash and sounds will be activated. However, kids will enjoy this with or without the sounds and lights. 18 months & up.

SNAP: A winning choice for learning about cause and effect and a sense of success as they use the two different actions to make thing happen. The cars do go too fast for tracking with ease, but they do invite some pretend play as well as plenty of pleasure from repetition.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
ELT Click-Clack Caterpillar
(International Playthings $59.95 Score:)

A two-sided toy with fast click-clack segmented car that runs down the track on one side and a ball run on the other side. The ball run moved slower for tracking, while the little segmented car whizzes on down. Toddlers love the repetition of this kind of toy. They can play this with sound effects, music, or with the sound switch off. Just the motion of the car or balls produces sounds. There is also a most welcome volume control switch. A great 1st birthday gift! 12 months-2.

SNAP: A good choice for visual tracking, since the ball run moves slower than most. This is one of those toys that develops dexterity as well as hands on experience with cause and effect.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Chronicle Books Baby Face Nesting Blocks
(Chronicle $19.99 Score:)

Ten sturdy cardboard blocks to stack or nest in size order. They are illustrated with baby faces, each with a distinctive expression. There is a space to slip in a photo of your baby, as well. Our eight-month old tester loved examining the babies and their adorable faces. She also liked knocking down the stacks we built for her and peek a boo games we played by nesting one block over another. 8 months & up.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
eeBoo Tot Tower: Life On Earth
(eeBoo $20 Score:)

Ten colorful nesting blocks by storybook illustrator, Melissa Sweet, are covered with birds, bugs, and other wildlife. The top of each is emblazoned with a numeral. Knowing and naming all these creatures will be a challenge to most toddlers and preschoolers. Yet, there's something to be said for stretching the vocabulary beyond the usual farm and zoo animals. For starters these will be fun to put in size order and knock them down. This is just one of the many handsome Tot Towers from this maker. Also charming in this nest and stacking format, a set of Alphabet blocks or a Read To Me set with short sentences about each item pictured. 2 & up.   The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Awards
Green Start Early Learning 10 Stacking and Nesting Blocks
(Innovative Kids $20 Score:)

Like other products in their line, these "Green Start" blocks are made form 98% recycled materials and have a special brown cardboard look. The graphics are colorful and handsome, giving a new look to a classic set of stacking and nesting blocks. Use these for reinforcing color concepts as well as shapes, letters and numbers. Stack them up or fit them into a nest, it's a hands-on way to learn about size order and problem solving.  As with most classic style toys these will be used by over a long time at varying levels of discovery from toddlers to early school years. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Awards
Alex My Busy Town
(Alex $100 Score:)

Little hands will be busy opening the doors for peek-a-boo sightings of firefighter, baker, postal worker and doctor; sliding the beads on a maze on top, moving vehicles up and watching them zoom down, twisting the tops and bottoms of fanciful creatures to match up parts and whole images, and twirling all of the letters of the alphabet. Don't worry about teaching your baby the letters, but looking at the images on the back of each letter will develop some knowing and naming language. This is a fresh take on a classic toy that develops dexterity, eye-hand coordination, language and independent play. The all-wooden cube is scaled perfectly for young toddlers. It is 16" H x 12" W x 12" D and handsomely finished with smooth sides and bright eye-appealing graphics. Here is a perfect choice for that big first birthday present! 1 & up.

SNAP ACTIVITIES: An excellent setting for putting together parts to make whole image. Also fun for developing finger dexterity by stirring the alphabet images and talking about what you see.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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