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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 


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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2006 Award
Naturally Playful Welcome Home Playhouse
(Step 2 $550 Score:) This oversized 66" high house will accommodate growing children and has bay windows, full kitchen, doorbell, and room for multiple children. “She loves playing peek-a-boo and having her own special space,” wrote our tester’s mother. The smaller Adobe House ($299) is 55" high, has small kitchen, sand tones, red “tile” roof, and stucco adobe look. (800) 347-8372.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Jump 'n Slide
(Little Tikes $200 Score:) The neighborhood kids that tested this new inflatable toy had one word: “Great!” Ideal for the 2–5 year old range. (Older testers were disappointed that it didn’t have enough bounce for them.) Parents liked the protective walls on the sides and loved the extra-wide slide. Great fun for a birthday party and just backyard fun, but does require parental supervision. Like an air mattress, it inflates quickly with the built-in pump (also a plus). 3 & up. (800) 321-0183.

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

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2006 Award
Super Rolling Art Center
(Alex $129 Score:) You need a lot of room for this generously sized art cart that has two easels and place for storing your child’s creations and supplies in between. The wheels gives this good-looking piece of equipment some portability. It does require a fair amount of assembly which was not always easy. That said, it looks like it belongs in a Pottery Barn catalog. If space is an issue, consider the BLUE CHIP Tabletop Easel ($40 ). Folds flat for convenient storage. (800) 666-2539.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Woodstock Band
(Woodstock Percussion $29.99 Score:) Beat out that rhythm with this six-piece set with wooden tambourine, recorder, maraca, egg shaker, castanet, and sleigh bell jingler with big wooden handle. Solid-sounding instruments. (800) 422-4463.

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

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Playskool Video Now
(Hasbro $49.95 Score:) Poses as an interactive game for preschoolers...but the DVD keeps playing without any intervention from the player. The characters on screen ask the child to answer questions but it does not require any action to make something happen- it just keeps going. This does not play any DVD’s but the ones made for this toy. Buy a DVD player and have real videos to watch instead of this stuff. (800) 752-9755.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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See 'n Write
(Educational Insights $39.99 Score:) The good thing about this writing machine is that kids get to see how to shape upper and lower case letters in both script and cursive on a small LCD screen. In game mode player tries to recognize letters as the machine writes. But, unfortunately, there is no direct writing on the screen--no tracing or free form writing. So, this is pretty remote. The only way kids get to try their hand is with paper and pencil. (800) 995-4436.

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

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2006 Award
Polar Bear Puppet
(Folkmanis $36 Score:) Polar bears are beloved in our office. This is a formidable bear. On a more domestic scale, there is also a new adorable 13" brown Tabby Cat ($22 ), the favorite of one of our toddler testers! Also interesting, dragon puppets that sit on a shoulder and are operated with a hand lever. Not ready for testing. Still charming, a 30" honey-colored Golden Retriever ($60 ). (800) 654-8922.

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

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2006 Award
Teddy the Teaching Bear
(Educational Insights $19.99 Score:) Colors, shapes, counting and other matching games are built into this clever little no-batteries needed quiz machine. More fun than a workbook, but the content is similar. There are 24 two sided cards that fit into a grid. Look at item on the left and find the matching item in the grid. Place the Teddy on the right match and its arm goes up. SO this is a self-correcting toy that reinforces reading symbols from left to right. No reading is required, but the mechanics of reading line-by-line and left to write and seeing details, as well as matching and language are all built into the play. They say 3 & up. We’d say more like 4-5. (800) 995-4436.

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

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2006 Awards
WonderFoam Big Letters
(Chenille Kraft Co. $11.5 Score:) Twenty-six big colorful foam letters. These are fun to trace and stick to the wet wall of the tub to spell out names and words. These have an interesting texture, as well, that make them an even better sensory learning tool. Activity: Because these letters have a textured finish they can be used for crayon rubs. Put a sheet of paper on top of a letter and use the side of a crayon to rub over the letter. Make a name sign with rubbings. Also, WonderFoam Magnetic Letters and Numbers ($10.50 )—unlike old-time plastic magnetic letters with tiny magnets that can be a choking hazard, these foam letters are completely backed with magnetic material that mirrors their shape. Also, new WonderFoam Dominoes SNAP AWARD ($15.50 ) Twenty-eight big dominoes with colorful dots that are color-coded to match. One can feel some sensory information in the cut-out form of the dots. They are not raised, but you can feel their outline. A great matching game. (800) 621-1261.

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

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