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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 


2006 Award
Kid K'nex Crimpy Critters
(KNEX $9.99 Score:) These up-sized K’nex look related to your old Tinkertoys—our testers especially like the “crimpy pieces.” Testers liked the larger Wild Ones kit ($14.95 ). We’d pass on the new Story Book Pals ($7.99 ) with cheesy (very merchandisy) books (e.g., featuring Chicken Little made out of K’nex). Fitting the pieces together can be challenging and requires finger strength as well as visual discrimination. Marked 3 & up, but we’d say more like 4 & up. (800) 543-5639.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Dora the Explorer Candy Land
(Milton Bradley $4.5 Score:) Fans of Dora will enjoy this variation of the classic color matching game that incorporates Dora and her friends. Still top rated, Duck Duck Goose ($19.99 ) a fun, easy-to-learn color concept game. PLATINUM AWARD ’05. (888) 836-7025.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Frog Hoppers
(International Playthings $5.95 Score:) We’ve seen a number of tiddlywink-style games this season (see Early School Years, p. 132.) This one is easy enough for beginners to play. Four sets of colored frogs are ready to hop back into the container as players spar off. No heavy rules to learn. A good game for learning about turn taking; requires some eye-hand coordination. They say 3 & up—we’d say more like 4–6. (800) 445-8347.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Sleepy Princess and the Pea
(Haba $24 Score:) Kids who know the story of the Princess and the Pea will enjoy taking turns and adding a cushion, pillow, and comforter to the stack before it topples over! Quick to learn and lots of chances to win and lose, this calls for some dexterity. (800) 468-6873.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Zimbbos!
(Blue Orange Games $19.95 Score:) Roll the die and stack the number of elephants shown. Can you do it without having the pyramid fall? Oh, yes, if you roll a star you have to add a clown or a balance beam—not exactly easy. A fun way to work on simple counting skills and dexterity. Takes 5–10 minutes to play a round and plenty of chances to win and lose. 3–6. (800) 819-6264

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Spinnerific Bye-Bye Balloons & Animal Pairs Games
(International Playthings $7.99 Score:) Here is a new spin on concentration. Quick and easy to learn, each game comes with a deck of cards and a domed spinner. Push the dome and it tells what color balloon you must find. In Animal Pairs the spinner will tell you to turn 2, 3, or 4 cards over and find matching animals. Our four-year-old tester loved beating us every time, and wanted to play again and again . . . the best sign of success. 3–5. (800) 445-8347.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
WonderFoam Dominoes
(Chenille Kraft Co. $15.95 Score:) These oversized foam dominoes with traditional dots were a favorite of our testers. Our tester said: the “chunky play pieces were easy to pick up” and it “was a game he came back to again and again.” (800) 621-1261. Also top rated, Color or Candy Dominoes (eeBoo $12.95 each ) This handsomely designed sturdy cardboard set of dominoes focuses on colors and matching shapes (stars, moon, train, heart, blueberries) rather than traditional numbers or dots. Our twin three-year-old toy testers enjoyed making up their “own game.” 3 & up. (212) 222-0823.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
My First Leap Pad Bus
(LeapFrog $39.99 Score:) Three Dr. Seuss books have been adapted for this platform, which has been updated with a bus motif. You can listen to the story and/or play the games that extend the experience. Each page has items to find with a sensor pen. Comes with Leap’s Big Day, with many basic preschool counting and language skills, not just the usual alphabet drill. Happily, there’s a volume control, so it won’t blast their ears. (800) 701-5327.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Car Wash
(Alex $23.99 Score:) After a day in the sandbox, it’s tough to deal with the “don’t wanna take a bath” preschooler. But this floating car wash with spritzer, conveyer belt, and turning gate might just change some minds. Comes with four little cars and miles of play power. Takes some hand strength and fine motor tuning to operate. 3 & up. (800) 666-2539.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Fold 2 Go XL Trike
(Radio Flyer $60 Score:) Our tall four-year-old tester had trouble with her long legs on other trikes. According to her mom, “The minute I put her on this one, she took off. This one is easy for her to steer and pedal, it’s stable because of the wide base at the back, and it folds up nicely . . . the best one yet!” She did note that the parent push bar was not as sturdy as the one on their Ultimate Family Trike ($80 ) but her daughter found this one easier to ride! Also new for , the Twist Trike ($60 ) You can twist the body of this trike from trike to low-to-the-ground “chopper.” Our tester enjoyed the dual mode of the trike, although her mom noted that the turning radius wasn’t as good as other Radio Flyer trikes. (800) 621-7613.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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