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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2007 Award
LeapFrog Fridge Words Magnetic Word Builder
(LeapFrog $27.99 Score:)

Kids can create more than 325 three-letter words with magnetic letters that speak and sing. This is a step beyond the original Fridge Phonics Letters Set, which plays one letter at a time. World Whammer is played with three letters to help kids learn to blend sounds and make words. It includes single letter names and sounds, plus word hunt games with rhyming words. Some 4s may be ready, but this is really a better game for 5-7.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Award
Floor Standing Puppet Theater
(Alex $59.99 Score:) Puppet stages are great fun for the whole family. At first you may be the main performer but soon enough your child will want you to be the audience. Try out familiar stories and then make up your own. Kids often express themselves more openly when they use puppets-- so be a careful listener. You may be surprised by what you hear. This stage from Alex is smaller than their larger playhouses that also have puppet stages. Comes with a clock (for show time) and a chalk board for adding important info about the show.

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

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2007 Award
Magnetic Artist Easel
(Alex $79.99 Score:) Having an double sided easel is great for playdates and siblings. Two kids can work at this 48" height-adjustable wooden easel that comes with a chalkboard on one side, a magnetic wipe-off board, an 18" x 75' paper roll, sturdy wooden paper cutter and 2 easel clips. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2011 Awards
Guidecraft Unit Blocks
(Guidecraft $40 & up Score:)

If there's one toy every child should have, blocks are it! Nothing is more basic to play than a set of wooden unit blocks. A set with 34 pieces is a place to start, although a 76-piece set ($90) would be even more versatile. Pictured here is a school size set that has 28 shapes($200+)Unit blocks come with built-in possibilities for discovery as they are scaled to each other; putting two squares together, kids discover the two equal one rectangular block; two of the triangles makes a square, etc. Blocks develop kids' spatial understanding, their eye hand skills, their problem solving abilities, imagination, and language. They are the raw materials for dramatic play that put kids in charge. They are great for using with wooden trains for making bridges and roadways for toy cars, barns for small animals. Be sure to add some scaled down vehicles, and animals and even some doll house or action figures to the mix. Give them a place where the blocks can stay up for a while so that they can make settings for their dramatic play.  Blocks can be used solo and in cooperative play. Beginners often will start off by building horizontially...but soon enough preschoolers will start building upwards. These are basic gear for kids with lasting play value because they are completely open-ended and can be used in multiple ways. They may be a farm one day and a bridge the next. One of a favorite lines of props for blocks are the Jungle and Farm Animal sets from Learning Resources($25.99).

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

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2007 Award
Bebe Do Graceful
(Corolle $49.99 Score:) A very sweet 14" baby doll that is just right for pretend play. Our testers love this collection of dolls that feel so soft and smell like vanilla. The head and limbs are vinyl with a soft fabric body that is extremely huggable. Comes with a bunny and bottle. We'd recommend pairing this doll with a stroller or the Play Nursery from Corolle.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
American Girl Jess
(American Girl $87 Score:) Jess, is this year's Girl of the Year from American Girl's contemporary collection of dolls. She's an Amerasian, 18" tall with dark brown eyes and her hair comes in loose braids. Her dad is Irish American and her mom is Japanese American. While the book points out that they come from different backgrounds, they both love archeology. Her family goes to Belize so the accessories that you can also add include a passport, a camera and a kayak.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Emperor Penguin Chicks
(Wildlife Artists Inc. $20 Score:) Choose either the handsome 21" traditional plush Emperor Chick($40) that looks half grown or the 13 Emperor Penguin Chick ($20) that has downy like plush with a recently hatch look. Either are an adorable armful and a welcome huggable for the very current penguin craze.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
eeBoo Classic Bingo
(eeBoo $14.95 Score:)

Each player collects matching transportation, animals, clothing, colors, or nature cards as they are drawn from the bag. Winner is first to cover all eight pictures on his playing board. Cards are printed with words, so sight vocabulary is being built for beginning readers, although no reading is needed. A good game for building vocabulary and turn taking. Also, of interest for those learning Spanish or French($14.95 each) the same game with vocabulary in those languages.

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: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Award
eeBoo Paper Doll Game
(eeBoo $14.95 Score:) Our testers really loved this game. Four cardboard adorable multicultural paper dolls, created by illustrator, Lizzy Rockwell, come ready to be dressed. Hit the spinner and players take turns pulling shoes, hats, tops, bottoms, and other parts to make a complete outfit. Winner is first to dress her 10 doll. For 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. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Seek and Find Let's Go to the City!
(Cranium $9.99 Score:) First players put together the 24 piece puzzle. Then they draw illustrated cards that show them the objects they must find and circle with a dry marker that wipes off. The illustrations are pleasingly busy (somewhere in between a Where's Waldo and a Richard Scarry's illustration). Each puzzle comes with 15 beginner cards and 15 more advanced cards so the game can be played by mixed aged groups. They say 3 & up, wed say more like 4 and up to start. Also in this line and recommended, Seek and Find Take Me to the Carnival!

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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