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Product Type: Toys
Age: Toddlers
Categories: Manipulatives

 

 
2013 Awards
Manhattan Toy Push & Spin Carousel
(Manhattan Toy $15 Score:)

A classic spinner that baby can activate with push on the big top knob. Inside the see-through dome there are puppies and beads that spin faster and faster. A fun way to learn about cause and effect and gain a powerful sense of making things happen. 12 months & up

SNAP: A satisfying toy for learning about cause and effect that needs little or no adaption. The big knob on top is easy to grasp and the base is broad enough to be stabile. If needed, you can add velcro to surface and bottom of the toy to make it stay in one place. Children like the repetition and sounds as well as the action. Good for building hand and arm strength.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
ELC Singing Animal Keyboard
(International Playthings $34.99 Score:)

We like the new look to a classic first keyboard that helps tots learn about cause and effect. The big keys work one at a time to activate the animals that open their mouths and make sounds. The sound is not over-the-top loud. It has three play modes: animal sounds, animals singing, and animals singing along to a tune. The music is just so-so, but the action will please tots who love the sense power and repetition of making things happen. A good first birthday gift. 12 months & up.

SNAP: Unlike a lot of toys where so many things happen, this works in a very one to one cause and effect way.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Quercetti Daisy Box Castle
(International Playthings $37 Score:)

For starters tots will love the classic action of filling and dumping all the pieces that come in the Daisy Box Castle. The rounded edges of the container and the blocks make them kid-friendly and easy for little hands to grasp. Once they get the idea, they can make the colorful rounded blocks fit into one another in towers or side-by-side on the white peg-board lid of the red container. The various shapes are designed to be used in an open-ended fashion with no right or wrong ways. A lovely toy for building eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, the language of color concepts and imaginative play.

SNAP: Give kids plenty of time to explore the various pieces of this building set. After plenty of time for free play, use the pieces to sort by color or size. Use them for reinforcing simple counting and even to make patterns. This does not have a babyish look yet the size of the playing pieces will make it easier for many children to manipulate.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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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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