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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2005 Award
Discovery Awesome Avalanche Kit
(Discovery Kids $19.95 Score:) At first glance this avalanche kit seems a lot like most of the volcano kits you may have seen - a five-minute wonder. But our 11-year old tester liked painting the model of Mt. Everest. While it was drying he and his mom read through the excellent booklet that explains how real avalanches happen, as well as the nature of the "insta-snow" - grains of white polymer that come with the kit. Add water to a measure of "insta-snow" and "Watch out below!" It cascades from the mountaintop! This kind of polymer is used in indoor snow-boarding parks and is related to the super absorbent polymer in disposable diapers. There are a number of other hands-on experiments and the good news is that if you store the saturated fluffy "insta-snow" in an open container, they shrink and dry and are ready to do their magic again. Our tester now insists on showing all visitors a demonstration. Adult supervision suggested.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
My Birdhouse
(Balitono $19 Score:) One of the best outdoor crafts is to prepare a birdhouse for backyard visitors. Balitono's new kit is already constructed; it's made of solid wood (7 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 6 1/2") and has drainage holes, a removable roof, and a ventilation slot for added comfort! Kids can enjoy painting the house with the included paints and varnish. We'd recommend pairing this kit with a bird guide book, a pair of binoculars and a log (for keeping track of the birds that come to visit).

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Make Your Own Puppets
(Made By Hands, Inc $17.95 Score:) Kids will enjoy making their own original stick puppets with this refreshingingly open-ended kit that comes with 12 unique puppets, 12 puppetsticks, 12 stands, and over 600 precut paper shapes (the company calls them Pop-Outs™). While this looks like a preschool kit, it will also be enjoyed by the next age group (5-7) as well. Great kit for playdates and rainy days. The well designed box also makes this a good take along craft. This new company also makes wonderful card, frame and make your own game kits.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Paint Ceramic Beads
(Alex $16.95 Score:) Here’s a really juicy bead kit that our testers wanted to start on right away. Comes with two large heart ceramic pendants, 16 square ceramic beads, 10 other shaped ceramic beads, seed beads, paints, brushes and cord. Because there are two heart pendants, this would make a good project for two friends to work on together. You can choose to paint and bake them –in which case adult supervision is a must. Our 9 and 11 year old testers thought they were grown up enough for kids their age, but though younger kids would enjoy them as well.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Travel Toy Tote
(Alex $24.99 Score:) If your child is at the stage where Hot Wheels, Bendos and Crayons are littering the backseat, then this portable toy box would go along way to staying more organized. In fact, we recommend that you include your child in selecting what comes along for regular car rides. You can add surprises to the box for longer journeys. Outside pockets are great for cups, paperback books, and other must-have take alongs.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Awards
Doodle Pro
(Fisher-Price $8 Score:) A no-mess magnetic drawing tool that works just like the Magna Doodle. Tied-on “pen” and shapes are perfect for drawing, tic-tac-toe, and even writing letters and numbers. Also available in smaller travel model ($8). 3 & up. (800) 432-5437. (Works much better than the new Etch A Sketch Draw ’n’ Go (Ohio Art). Stick with the original Etch A Sketch for the next age group.) ACTIVITY:Put dots on the board that will form a word, number or letter when the dots are connected. Can child guess what it will be? Or play I'm thinking of a number(write one on the board and keep it hidden..CHild must guess..is it more than...less than...etc. Give child a chance to write the number and answer the questions.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2004 Award
Moose in the House
(Gamewright $9.99 Score:)

There's a Moose in the House remains one of our all time favorite card games.  It's unlike most other games you'll play with your kids nad has a sense of humor and great artwork. Calls for visual discrimination skills!  So we have elevated this unique game to BLUE CHIP status!

Here's our original review:

One of the most innovative card games we have played in years. The cards have pictures of empty rooms, doors, and moose in the same rooms. The object is to place as many moose in your opponents’ house of cards as possible. The player with the fewest moose at the end of the game, wins. Easy to learn and a lot of fun to play! 2-5 players.

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

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

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2005 Award
Wig Out!
(Gamewright $9.99 Score:)

The object is to match all of your wig cards to those on the table. Be fast…there are no turns here. Everyone is trying to do the same thing whether it’s matching pony tails, beehives, or Mohawks!   First player to get rid of all his cards wins. 6 & up.

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

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2005. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2005 Awards
Color Pixter
(Fisher-Price $84.99 Score:) A hand held no-mess art platform that allows kids to create countless combinations of designs with the easy to use stylus on the touch sensitive back-lit screen. While there are many premade images and backgrounds, kids can also create their own original designs. The Color Pixter is far superior in terms of graphics to its black and white predecessor. Comes with a headphone (if you don’t want to hear the sound effects and a volume control). Additional cards are available: Color Arcade, SpongeBob, Color Recue heroes, and Barbie Fashion Show.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2002 Awards
CedarWorks Gazebo Slant 1 Playset
(CedarWorks $3100 Score:) The Gazebo is a big time investment in backyard fun. Made out of northern cedar, the company guarantees that its sets are splinter free. What we really like about the Gazebo system is that you can add guard rails all the way around the raised platform for added safety. As your kids grow, you can remove the rails for added climbing opportunities. Kids love having a clubhouse of their very own and that's what the Gazebo does (without having to build a tree house!) Starter sets begin at $1400 from this top of the line playset company, but you can always spend more. You can customize your "dream set" on CedarWorks website, on the phone or with an authorized dealer. With all climbing systems, adult supervision is a must. The government recommends a minimum of 6 inches of ground covering (wood chips, recycled mulch, pea stones, fine sand) with a minimum perimeter of 6 feet. For more safety guidelines, please visit www.cpsc.gov.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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