Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys

 


2011 Award
Constructibles Wacky Machine
(Mudpuppy Press $16.99 Score:)

Newest in this collection of 3-D cardboard construction sets. There are 25 wacky machine parts graphics on these cardboard playing pieces. Like Mudpuppy's City Constuctibles, these have a playful look and invite inventive ways of making connections. They come in five geometric shapes that are put together into open-ended structures. There is no wrong or right way to use these sturdy building cards. They develop kids fine motor skills as well as their problem solving abilities as they fit the interlocking pieces together and keep them from falling over. These are not flimsy, as many card sets tend to be. Best of all this is a toy for creative thinking as kids make their own structures. 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: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Lego Star Wars Storage Toy Box
(Neat-Oh $19.99 Score:)

We loved last year's storage toy case with a battle bridge motif. That held 500 Legos. Now, a larger container is available that can hold 1,000 Legos. The sides of the unit zip open to a 29" X 26" play mat with graphics of the inside of the Empire Ship. This makes for a self contained play surface for building and dramatic play. When cleanup time comes all the big and little pieces can be easily put away with a zip at each corner and a lid on top. Still useful for smaller collections, the Lego Star Wars Storage Toy Case Battle Bridge. These cases are marked for 3 & up, but keep in mind that small Legos and especcially Star Wars themes are are a better choice for school aged kids.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Mudpuppy Constructibles Pop Patterns
(Mudpuppy Press $14 Score:)

Newest in this collection of 3-D cardboard construction sets. There are 25 bold pop art patterned cards with stripes, dots, zig-zags and hot colors. Like Mudpuppy's Bold Pattern Constuctibles, these have a bold look that is more about design, patterns and color than realistic building toys. They come in five geometric shapes that are put together into open-ended structures. There is no wrong or right way to use these sturdy building cards. They develop kids fine motor skills as well as their problem solving abilities as they fit the interlocking pieces together and keep them from falling over. These are not flimsy, as many card sets tend to be. Best of all this is a toy for creative thinking as kids make their own structures. 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: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Awards
Toobers & Zots
(Little Kids $24.99 Score:)

Kids love the bendable open-ended foam pieces in this colorful construction set. It's more free form than building toys like Legos since the pieces twist together rather than needing to fit together. There are tubes, skinny rods, flat pieces and dots that hold and mold together. There is not right or wrong way to create whatever can be imagined. This giant set has 345+ pieces to be used in a multitude of ways. Fitting them all back into the holder may be a challenge, but they are quiet and soft and good fun for younger builders.

We have written about this toy before but it has been repackaged and refreshed by another company and we're glad to see it back.

SNAP IDEAS: Easier to put together than many other building sets, the soft easy to grasp pieces of Toobers and Zots make them a good choice for creative building. They are quieter than wooden or plastic blocks and pleasing to handle. ACTIVITIES: Use them for sorting by color or shape and developing language to describe if there are more long pieces than short ones...more yellows than reds? Fewer greens than yellows? These kinds of sorting and talking games help kids develop concepts that they can touch and see in a concrete way.

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

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2011 Award
LEGO Space Shuttle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

Marking the end of an era, Lego has introduced a new Space Shuttle. With 231 pieces, this is a fun build for intermediate builders. Comes wtih an astronaut and a space satellite to launch into orbit.  Sad to think that the next generation will probably ask, "What's a space shuttle?"

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Lego City Airport
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.99 Score:)

Here's a top of the line airport, control tower, and jet with 703 pieces to assemble and then use for dramatic play. It's all here, from the revolving doors, ticket desk, security checkpoint with X-ray machine, café, and lounge. Every small detail from baggage carts, passengers, and crew are included. But perhaps best of all, the jet itself is a big 20" long and over 7" tall. This is a great choice for Lego builders 6-12.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks
(Tegu $55 & up Score:)

We need to start the review with the safety warning that there are magnets in these beautifully crafted wooden blocks.  The toy is marked 3 & up, but if you have smaller children in your house or older kids that still mouth their toys wait on this toy for another day.  That said, these are exquisitely crafted blocks of different sizes (there are long and short slates and cubes) that have such a smooth finish-they're just fun to handle.  Then there is the added bonus of the magnets.  A perfect toy for the coffee table--and delightfully open-ended.  The other major draw back--the price. The 52 set will put you back an impressive $100, 26 pieces is $55.  On the upside, the company is promoting the planting of Tegu trees in Honduras and sending kids to school in Honduras as well. 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Citiblocs Cool Colors Building Blocks
(Citiblocs $24.99 Score:)

We fell in love with these open-ended building blocks last year.   They look alot like the pricier original French, Kapla blocks. Compatible with the originals, they are all the same size pieces of natural wood.  The open-endedness of these blocks truly challenges the builder's imagination and dexterity. The smooth and precision cut blocks are made of Radiata Pine from certified renewable forests in New Zealand and come packaged with suggested projects kids can build without glue or pegs.  What's new this season- sets of Hot (pinks/reds) and Cool (blue/green) colors. These make interesting patterns and may hold added appeal to younger builders.  (These sets got lukewarm reviews from threes--but older 4s and 5s totally got into them - so if you get a set and your child doesn't seem enthralled, pull them back out when they're a little older.) They come in different sets: 100 piece set costs $24.99, 50 pieces for $12.95.   The packages say 3 & up, we think older builders of 5 & up will find them more interesting.  The activities suggested will challenge even older kids.  Our recommendation--put them on the coffee table and see what everyone, young and old, comes up with.  We found them addictive.
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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Citiblocs Hot Colors Building Blocks
(Citiblocs $24.99 Score:)

We fell in love with these open-ended building blocks last year.   They look alot like the pricier original French, Kapla blocks. Compatible with the originals, they are all the same size pieces of natural wood.  The open-endedness of these blocks truly challenges the builder's imagination and dexterity. The smooth and precision cut blocks are made of Radiata Pine from certified renewable forests in New Zealand and come packaged with suggested projects kids can build without glue or pegs.  What's new this season- sets of Hot (pinks/reds) and Cool (blue/green) colors. These make interesting patterns and may hold added appeal to some young builders.  They come in different sets: 100 piece set costs $24.99, 50 pieces for $12.95.    The packages say 3 & up, we think older builders of 5 & up will find them more interesting.  The activities suggested will challenge even older kids.  Our recommendation--put them on the coffee table and see what everyone, young and old, comes up with.  We found them addictive.
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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Panda's Pick Bamboo Builders
(Schylling $30 Score:)

Here's a really well-crafted set of buiding blocks that are made out of bamboo.  They are Lincoln Log inspired pieces - the set comes with 63 pieces.  There's enough pieces to make the house as shown on the packaging or to create your own structure.  Our only comment to an otherwise beautiful construction toy--the age on the box.  Marked 3 & up...this is really more like a project for 5s 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: Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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