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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2004 Award
Ladybug Land
(Insect Lore $19.95 Score:) Small half-globe structure is the home for the ladybugs that you hatch. Kit comes with a certificate for mailing in. The larvae will be mailed to you, and then you can watch the process unfold. Eventually, you can release the ladybugs into your garden. 4 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Awards
Crayola Dough
(Crayola $1.99 Score:) A super-soft colorful dough that comes in four-or six-pack sets in vivid colors. Will air-harden. 2 & up SNAP ACTIVITY: Encourage school age kids to shape snakes and then use them for making letters or numbers that will harden. Paste finished dried letters onto wood for name plates. Or make small disks of dough and have kids trace their pictures or names in the douch with a toothpick. Make a hole at the top and when dry this can become a necklace.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Awards
Make-Your-Own Frames
(Made By Hands, Inc $17.95 Score:) Here's a kit with 10 cardboard frames, pop-out shapes in colors and shining holographic card stock. plus one glue stick. There's no cutting but the shapes are interesting and easy to handle. All the materials fit back into the sturdy box foler with a velcro closer for safe keeping. Enough materials for play date fun or even a sleep-over gang. Load 'em up with kids artwork or recent photos for grandparents. SNAP: Materials lend themselves to success and open-ened exploration and they don't look babyish. There's no right or wrong way to use this material. Precut materials add to the ease of use and glus stick really holds!

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Awards
Make-Your-Own Cards I & II
(Made By Hands, Inc $17.95 Score:) There's no need to cut and pasting is a snap with the glue stick and precut shapes. There are several sheets of "pop-out" shpaes that can be used to decorate prefolded cards. Kit includes 20 envelopes for mailing finished art work. Store all the goodies in this kit in a neat box with velcro closure. This comes two ways, with pastel colors that are no dobt designed to appeal to girls and a primary color kit, that is likely to appeal to both boys and girls. We go for the latter! SNAP: Making their own cards will be fun and easy as well as motivating kids to use fine motor skills and create "mail" they can send to family and friends. No right or wrong way to do this open-ended craft kit.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Disney Classic Karaoke Microphone
(Disney $49.95 Score:) We've seen a lot of karaoke players-this is streamlined for ease of use and can even be carried along to family gatherings or parties. It's a red & yellow microphone with controls on the handle. You simply plug it into the TV and magically the songs lyrics show up on the screen along with graphics that indicate what "voice" you have chosen. Young readers will enjoy following the words to pop Disney songs and changing their voices from high to low; from funny to sweet. You can harmonize with yourself or simply sing. Unlike most you can actually slow the words down-which makes it a great reading tool that is also fun! Our testers ranging in age from 5-11 had a giggly good time with this one. Too bad it came too late for the book. Also available in "princess" pink. [Please note: the Disney Classic Version is available exclusively until the first of the year at Circuit City. The Princess Version is available exclusively until the first of the year at Toys R Us.]

Age: Preschool,Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Awards
Language Littles Dolls
(Language Littles $39.99 Score:) These 16 " soft rag dolls with yarn hair are pretty pricey, but huggable and have sound chips in their hands. Give one hand a squeeze and it says several phrases in two languages, squeeze the other hand and it counts in the Spanish, Italian, French or Chinese-depending on which doll you bring home. Will it make your child bi-lingual-not really, but it is a small nod in that direction and just might prompt further interest. Also available in child size dolls sans soundchips and only $50 for an oversized playmate that can wear you child's clothes and will say whatever she imagines it says ...in any language!

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2006 Award
LeapFrog Leapster L MAX
(LeapFrog $79.99 Score:)

We told you about the Leapster way back in 2006. It's still a great travel toy, plus a simple cable connection that will put Leapster games on your TV screen, so it can be used either way. Now it's a good take-along that can also be plugged in at Grandma's. Without the usual frenetic pace, these games respond to your child and are more than zap and blast games. If you have been looking for a hand held game machine that's more appropriate than Gameboy for the youngest player look no further. Billed as a learning machine its a lot more playful than most. The games and skills are well targeted to older preschoolers and early school age kids. It has a larger screen and games that can be played at three levels of difficulty. There are math, phonics, reading and spelling games and an art program that takes some help to learn how to use. We really liked the Letters on the Loose cartridge but we'd skip the Batman cartridge (too scary looking for the age group). The Spiderman cartridge is recommended and has a softer edge to it than Batman. This is a little heavy for hand held operation, but not too big for a lap or table top. The stylus is easy to use and the screen responds well. Software cartridges are available for pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st Grade. 4-8. Among our favorite games, Letterpillar, and Cosmic Math with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. 48. PLATINUM AWARD 06. (800) 701-5327. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2004 Award
Bitty Baby Double Stroller
(Pleasant Company $48 Score:) With so many real double stroller around, it seemed only right that there should be a version for dolls. Designed to go with the American Girl's Bitty Baby collection which offers a wide range of multi-ethnic dolls. There is also a twins collection (unfortunately only available in fair skin). The stroller does collapse for storage purposes.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Bucket Blast
(LoLo $34.99 Score:) This arrived too late for our 2004 book, but it's a winner! Our mixed-aged testors(5-9) had fun not only playing inside and outside but also making up their own games. About thte only thing they didn't like was misplacing a few beanbags! The product not only held interest after the newness wore off...our testors friends asked if they could play Bucket Blast at a sleep over party this weekend. These are 9 year old girls- but the 5 year old brother in the group loved it,too. The buckets that strap onto the and belts are sturdy, and easily assembled. The kids were able to assemble them. This is a fun active game with 15 suggested games and room for kids to make up their own. It's a fun game set for indoors, outdoors. Our parent tester wrote, "Easy to take to the beach or even just fun day trips where there is a block of time whether a picnic or something, great time could be had by all." Kids learn a lot about turn taking, color recognition, counting and team playing. According to our parent tester ...."There was very little bickering going on with this. The kids all seemed to find their own place and were able to play at whatever level they could. They all enjoyed it." (800)760-9930.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Awards
Insect Lore Butterfly Pavilion
(Insect Lore $29.99 Score:)

A large 2-foot tall updated version of a habitat for hatching painted ladies butterflies. The pop-up mesh tent can be hung or put on a tabletop. This is a three-week long project with all the magic of watching caterpillars transform themselves into chrysalis and then into beautiful butterflies that can be released into your garden. When you bring home the Pavilion you send your certificate for the caterpillars. A good project to capture with camera as it moves along and keep a log of the dates and changes. This size comes with 10 caterpillars; a smaller Live Butterfly Garden($19.99) one foot comes with certificate for five caterpillars. 4 & up.

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

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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