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


2000 Awards
Music Blocks
(Small world toys $69.95 Score:)

A new addition to our Blue Chip Award list. Remains one of our favorite toys, ever.  Here's what we wrote in 2000: One of the most innovative toys of the year! We were skeptical about such an expensive musical toy for kids-that was, until we played it! Imagine five colored plastic blocks each side with a geometric shape and representing a different sound. Match the shapes or play them in random order -there's no right or wrong way. Push on the blocks to play musical phrases! What sets this toy apart is the quality of the sound: woodwinds, trumpets, percussion. Comes with "Mozart's Night Music" cartridge. Bring home the "Rhythms of the World" cartridge right away. The new Disney music cartridges are not recommended since they produce a disconcerting disconnected effect so that songs do not make sense. We also found that the new Discovery Block, a big fabric block with peek-a-boo surprises was overly loud, frenetic, and too didactic. Teaching concepts such as "hexagon" to toddlers who are just learning to speak seems out of sync and not especially playful! 2 & up.

snap info: Want a rewarding tool for developing matching skills? Color concepts? Cause and effect? It's all here, plus great sound quality! Players touch blocks to activate a musical phrase or rhythm. Shapes on the blocks determine what instrument you'll hear. It's fun to mix up the shapes on the blocks for a variety of sounds. Kids with visual disabilities can "read" raised symbols on the blocks. Pricey but one of the most innovative toys we've found for kids with or without disabilities. New for 2000, update with extra cartridges ($19.99 each) of Bach, Jazz or Rhythms; a Cyber Cartridge ($49.99) downloads music from the internet.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2000. Click here to purchase the product on

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Music Cube
(Munchkin $34.99 Score:) Compared to Neurosmith's Music Blocks, this has poor sound quality. It's also a one-trick pony---playing a few tunes that cannot be changed with multiple cartridges like Neurosmith's. As each face of the cube is pushed a new instrument chimes in. However, the biggest complaint from testers was the lack of a volume control. It is super loud.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2002.

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2004 Awards
Music Blocks Composer
(Small world toys $49.99 Score:) A less costly version of one of our favorite toys. Like the original Music Blocks Maestro, it comes with five colored plastic blocks, each side making a different sound. Match the shapes on the blocks or play them in random order-there's no right or wrong way. The "composer" allows you to record and play back your composition. Comes with one jazz cartridge; we'd suggest bringing home the Mozart cartridge, too. The original Music Blocks Maestro is still available ($59.99) with compositions from Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. SNAP:Kids with visual disabilities can "read" raised symbols with their fingertips on the blocks.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2004.

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Dance Baby Dance Sit & Stand Danceband
(Fisher-Price $39.95 Score:) Great idea, poorly executed. When toddlers activate sounds by stepping on the play mat or by hitting the keys on the console, too much music plays—so the lessons in cause and effect are lost. Marked 6 mos. & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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2006 Awards
Neurosmith Music Blocks
(Small World Toys $45 Score:) Welcome back! This Platinum Award winner was gone for a few years. It returns with five colored plastic blocks, each side making a different sound. Match the shapes on the blocks or play them in random order—there’s no right or wrong way. The “composer” allows you to record and play back your composition. Comes with one jazz cartridge; we’d suggest bringing home the classical cartridge ($15), too. (800) 421-4153. SNAP Activity: This is a great product for developing shape matching concepts as well as dexterity. Play a game of putting up all the triangles and play try all the circles. Or how about making a pattern as in circle, square,cirle, etc. A satisfying toy for making things happen. Sound quality is also a major plus when it's a toy you are going to hear again and again.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2008 Awards
Mega Bloks Smart Builders Piano
(Mega Bloks $34.99 Score:)

We are always on the look out for a beginning musical toy. Most are over the top in terms of frenetic lights/motion and or the sound quality is so poor you don't want that to be your child's introduction to musical exploration. So we were really delighted when this new piano arrived. There is a keyboard that you can set to play note for note or you can use the music bloks that sit on top on the piano to add layers of music/sounds/beats to what you're playing. Our testers noted that the bloks stay on well - a plus. Other comments included: "This is a fantastic toy"; "Interesting & fun now & will grow with him for a quite a while I suspect." "You can play the songs automatically or by pressing the keys, or you can use it as a straight piano (with several sounds) that has surprisingly good sound quality."

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP ACTIVITY:Playing a tune is not so easy except with this clever toy. It comes with preprogrammed songs that play a familiar tune as the child hits the same or different keys…so the child has a sense of control. It can also be played with color-coding, but it is the non-coded format that is most child friendly and empowering.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on

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2003 Award
Musical Hands Mat
(International Playthings $29.99 Score:) Following the flashing lights above each handprint on the 45" mat allows children to play a tune. This calls for visual attention and sequencing. Marked for 2s, but this will be hard for most toddlers under 2˝. A much better choice for preschoolers and beyond!

Age: Toddlers,Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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