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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2009 Award
Goofball Rally
(Educational Insights $28.99 Score:)

Set up the colored marbles in their track and turn up one of many colored pattern cards. Players race to be the first to hit all of their marbles into the track before their opponent. A game with quick rounds and plenty of opportunities to win some and lose some. You need to put this out of reach of younger siblings who may mouth the marbles. No magnets, but marbles are a choking hazard for younger kids. 5 & 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Royal Rescue Logic Game
(Educational Insights $25 Score:) A booklet of challenges ( and solutions) comes with this set of 8 “castle blocks, a base and a roal couple. At the start of each challenge you can use the pieces shown in the base. Using only the added pieces shown in the puzzle, you must make it possible for the royals to get to each other. The puzzles get increasingly more challenging. Introduce this to you 506 year old and before long they will be solving the puzzles on their own. A good choice for developing spatial reasoning and problem solving skills that require some trial and error along with stick-to-it patience. It’s designed for single players but who says you can’t take turns? Nicely packaged and the wooden playing pieces are finished smoothly. Also see Castle Logix. 5 & 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: 2008.

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2008 Award
Castle Logix
(Smart Games $26.99 Score:)

With a set of four castle style blocks and three posts, and puzzle book players must solve a series of progressively challenging puzzles. Using the pictorial images a player must use the playing pieces to construct the towers as shown. The solution takes, time and problem solving skills or a turn of the page to see the answer to the puzzle. Designed for 5 & up, this is a game that may take some handholding to start. Once they get the hang of it, this is likely to be a fun solo game, playing cooperatively or taking turns. Also see the Royal Rescue Logic game from the same maker. 5 & 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: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Sorry Sliders
(Hasbro $19.99 Score:)

Most slider games require big tables and big bucks. This mini-slider game is perfectly scaled for the kitchen table doesn’t cost a bundle for a variety of satisfying games. Players set up their small token size sliders and take turns sending them toward the target. Add the score and move small “markers” on individual playing boards. There are a variety of target boards that change the game and become more challenging. There’s some skill involved in sending the sliders to the target, but this is really a game kids and adults of mixed ages can enjoy together. No reading and only simple adding involved with score keeping. Plenty of opportunities to win and lose, an important learning ingredient for young players. 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: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Scrabble Me
(Winning Moves Games $19.99 Score:) Two to four players, each with a small individual Scrabble board is the way you play this new and faster paced version of a classic. Players put their words down at the same time on their own little boards and score each round. Game play goes on until all 100 tiles are gone. But watch out! When you play a wild tile (a blank tile) you swap boards with another player. High scorer is the winner. 8 & 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: 2008.

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2008 Award
Pottery Barn Kids Jumbo Inflatable Bowling Ball and Pins
(Pottery Barn Kids $89 Score:) When we first heard about these super-sized bowling pins we wondered if they would really go over when hit with the really large bowling ball - oddly enough a common problem with toy bowling sets. You probably don't worry about that as an issue--but it is one of our pet peeves--along with boats that don't float. The good news here is that they do go over when hit. The pins are 42" high and the ball is 25" in diameter. Note: each set comes only with three pins. The "big" size is really fun for preschoolers who will enjoy moving them about!

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Awards
Little Tikes 6 in 1 Town Center Playhouse
(Little Tikes $399.99 Score:)

One of our preschool testers thought this was absolutely perfect-- they had thought of everything but a porta potty! (His dad's an architect). What's really innovative about this playcenter is that it literally opens all the way up to reveal many different pretend settings. There is a cafe (with a chalkboard for specials, a bistro table, two chairs, and a sink), a gas station (here you can make the price as low as you want!), a town center with a retail store, and a sports center (complete with a basketball hoop, soccer net, and a place for toss games. Center is wheelchair accessible. Note: The only negative we heard back on this product is that it took over two hours to put together. If you're not particularly handy- this may be a problem. As with all of these plastic playsets, we pass on the recommendation we received years ago from Little Tikes to use liquid soap. It sometimes makes the pieces go together faster!

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

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Swingball Tetherball Set
(Spinmaster $49.99 Score:) We took this out to the beach and watched as both kids and adults took a turn. The idea here is very much like the original tetherball, except the ball is a tennis ball and you're hitting it with a plastic racket rather than your hands. You start by placing the rope in the middle of the corkscrew like track on the top of the pole. One person wants to get the rope to the top of the pole and the other wants to go the bottom. Our only concern was that someone would get hit with the tennis ball and that it would sting. During the course of the day, that only happened once with teens who were playing pretty intensely. For younger kids this is a really fun way to work on hand eye coordination. Adults enjoyed taking a turn as well. Note: We have not received our safety verification form back from this company and we have not tested it in an independent lab for lead or phthalates.

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

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2008 Awards
Step2 50s Diner
(Step 2 $149.99 Score:)

Kudos to Step2 for coming up with a really fun, gender-free play setting. Our preschool and toddler siblings enjoyed playing diner (the older sister was running the place, of course!). On one side you have all the kitchen equipment of a traditional toy kitchen (sink, frig and oven) with the bonus of a grill top! The other side has a place for two customers to sit at the “booth”, complete with tabletop jukebox that plays a few tunes from the era, and a bell when you need service (our testers thought the bell could be louder). Diner also comes with coffee pot, dishes, silverware, and play food (our testers were big fans of the ice cream cones).

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

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Acting Out Musical Can Can Skirt
(Acting Out $37 Score:)

The latest in the line of play skirts that have motion activated music. The black and white shirt with black and pink ruffles is very grown up. Your child will most likely love the skirt and the can-can music. Be forewarned, if you have a headache, this is not the skirt for small spaces! We can't stop activating the music in our office--and now we keep singing the song too! Just like being at the Folies Bergère! Ooo,la la!

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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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