Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Toddlers
Categories: Pretend Play

 

 
2011 Awards
Playskool Elmo's Cell Phone
(Hasbro $9.99 Score:)

Slide the phone open and you see who is on the phone. It might be Oscar or Ernie or Abby Cadabby. Push a button and the character says one of the three numbers on that line and then rings. This is a pretty big phone, but what with the sliding, button pushing and face changes, it will be interesting for beginning pretend play. A fun prop and just the right size for a stocking stuffer surprise. 18 months and 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: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Kidoozie Little Roadster Steering Wheel
(International Playthings $28 Score:)

We had a toddler visitor who would not let go of this interactive steering wheel. He went all the way home to France with it and his mom reports it is still his favorite! We know steering wheel toys have always been a hit with toddlers. But this one is going to get more mileage than most. It's a big blue wheel with a broad green base that keeps it stabile on the table or floor. But that is just the practical part. This electronic steering wheel has icons on the buttons that kids may begin to "read" when they want to toot the horn, call for and emergency truck, or "listen" to the radio. As they steer side to side the blinker arrows light up.

It has a shift button; shift into Drive to activate the screen as they steer. Put it in Reverse and hear the back up signal sound. There is a turn on button that starts the engine and brake sounds when the car is put in Neutral. All those special effects are sure to be used hit and miss at first, but more purposefully as they get to find their way around on imaginary trips. Marked 12 months and up. We think slightly older kids will find many ways to use this for their pretend play.

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

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2011 Awards
Step2 Grill and Play Patio Cafe
(Step 2 $129.99 Score:)

We love that this combines kitchen/grilling pretend play with a real place for kids to sit down and have a snack. Preschoolers can make all kinds of meals on the cooking side of this unit while their friends take turns being the guests or customers. There is an adjustable umbrella to cover all...a nice toy to bring outside while the grown ups are grilling or to entertain the troops indoors on a rainy day.  Comes with lots of accessories and food-- if you're using this toy with a toddler, we'd recommend putting most of the utensils and food away.  A pot, a dish, and a cup are about all you need when you're 2 1/2.  We're also not big on plastic food--most kids do very well making up their own imaginary "dishes"! The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

SNAP:This kind of housekeeping toy has great appeal to spark pretend play and language. Using scaled down utensils in make believe games will help develop eye hand skills, social skills, and dramatic play.

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

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2010 Award
Sizzlin Shapes Kitchen
(Step 2 $34.99 Score:)

A fun toddler toy that is just right for early pretend play as well as making things happen with multiple kinds of manipulatives. There is a faucet and a little pretend sink--push the button and you hear the water running. There's a burner where the egg in the pan sizzle when put on the stove. Turn the big red button on the stove for a ratchet sound. There are doors that open on the refrigerator, and microwave oven, and shutters that open the window. The refrigerator door is also a shape sorter of sorts. The openings on the fridge door are color coded, but some of the shapes have two colors, which might be confusing. Not exactly a clear match. But put any of the pieces including the orange, tomato, and cheese wedge in and they drop out of the fake icemaker chute on the door front. It's putting the food in and having it drop out that is the fun part of this toddler toy. It is all about making things happen and doing it again and again. That is where the action is with kids at this stage. All in all it's a very satisfying mini-kitchen for beginning chefs. It will not take the place of the child size play kitchen, but it is the right size for now. They say 12 months and up, we would say the pretend part is more like 18 months and 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, Preschool. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Step 2 Little Helper's Shopping Cart
(Step 2 $29.99 Score:)

A gender free red, white, and blue shopping cart. Scaled perfectly for toddlers and preschoolers. This is a favorite piece of equipment for pretend play. It can hold a doll, bear or other soft toy in the usual up front place. It has an open basket that is easy to load as well as a lower shelf for big items. The top basket has no openings for small items to fall through. This will be used for deliveries, shopping, and hauling treasures. It's low enough for toddlers to use and rolls smoothly. However it is not weighted, so this is for kids who are steady on their feet. It's not intended as a prop for wobbly beginning walkers. The company also makes this in green and blue, if you do not want the flag colors, though either are gender neutral. Best of all it comes out of the box completely ready to roll! 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, Preschool. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Step2 Click and Whirl Mower Blower
(Step 2 $24.99 Score:)

A fun push toy with lots of pretend possibilities!  This mower is designed for true walkers.  It is not weighted for toddlers that are looking for something to hold onto.  In fact, if they push down on the handle it will go down (fast)!  That said, this is a fun prop that makes a pleasing sound when it's pushed.  The top of the mower comes off and doubles as a leaf blower. It has a crank and a see-thru window so that you can see the parts move. Not difficult to put together.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Awards
Leap Frog Cook & Play Potsy
(LeapFrog $21.99 Score:)

What a clever way to combine pretend play with a favorite toddler mode - a fill and dump game. A talking pot that speaks when you put its lid on and off. Sometimes it says "on" or "off" or switches to "closed" or "open." Toss the toy veggies into the pot and use the big grey spoon and it adds stirring and mixing sounds along with little factoids about the foods. Switch on the color and counting mode and the pot sings little songs that count to five and name the colors of the veggies. This is not one of those rigid counting toys. It's more about pretend with some info and action dropped into the mix. Potsy is totally on the mark and appropriate for toddlers. 12 months & up.


The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

SNAP: Use this put and take toy for reinforcing color concepts as well as developing motor skills. This is a satisfying toy on several levels. It is easy to "make things happen" and predict outcomes as the lid is put on and off. It's also a fun toy for reinforcing color concept, knowing an naming skills and playing games of pretend.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Little Peoples Wheelies Stand 'n Play Rampway RECALLED
(Fisher-Price $40 Score:)

THIS PRODUCT HAS BEEN RECALLED. If you have purchased this toy, please read the CPSC recall alert.   Below was our original review. This toy was slated to be a Platinum Award winner. The company had signed our safety verification form indicating that the toy exceeded current safety standards.  The CPSC reports that the hazard is  "The wheels on the purple and the green cars can come off, posing a choking hazard to young children." The remedy: "Consumers should immediately take the affected purple and the green cars away from children and contact Fisher-Price for free replacement cars." Contact info: "For additional information, contact Fisher-Price at (800) 432-5437 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at www.service.mattel.com"

Wow! Toddlers are going to love towering over this two feet tall roadway. This not-so miniature setting can be enjoyed from either side, as tots put the two little cars on the ramps and watch them zoom down. It can also be enjoyed by more than one child at a time. There is a mechanic's lift that makes a wonderful ratchet sound as the vehicles go up. There's also a place to fill 'er up, a sign that spins as the Wheelie vehicle drive down, down, down and lights and sounds as the vehicles go down the spiral ramps. This is the kind of toy that toddlers and young preschoolers enjoy with plenty of repetition and no complications. It's fun for beginning pretend play, cause and effect, and the thrill of making things happen. Be forewarned, this takes some time to assemble. Like so many toys this season, this does not come out of the box ready for play. 18 months & up.

SNAP:  This kind of rampway helps toddlers with tracking as they follow the moving vehicle spin down the ramps. Larger than most, the rampway is uncomplicated and gives opportunities to make things happen. Repetition is the name of the game and that can be very satisfying and reassuring. Since this is kind of tippable, you may want to adapt this by taping it down to the floor or table. Also, look for other balls and vehicles that can scoot down the ramps. Which goes fastest? The purple car or the green one? For older kids, tape the toy down to a table that is the right height for the action. This is one of those easy to use toys that does not look babyish.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Alex Call My Cell Phone
(Alex $15.99 Score:)

Unlike so many toy phones with sound, this one is not overly loud and even has a high and low volume control. It's bigger than your average cell, but it has a keyboard with numbered buttons that activate speaking and music and a light on the  "camera" screen. 12 months and 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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Step 2 Cafe Barista
(Step 2 $29.95 Score:)

Push the button to grind the coffee beans, turn the brewing handle, and top it off with frothing sounds. This play station is full of action for young sophisticates who frequent coffee bars. It's also rather contradictory. On the one hand, it is a very literal kind of play prop, imitating the real thing. On the other hand, the cups have holes in them so you cannot use any fluids in them.  Old fashioned tea sets used to be solid enough so that you could pour water ( or even milk!) from the tea pot into the play cups.  In this new world, toy teapots and cups have holes for safety, so that they will not fit over mouth and nose. We applaud the designers' concern for safety-but it does seem too bad that they didn't make the cups larger or smaller so that they could function. Marked 2 & up. We think this is a better choice for preschoolers. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

        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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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