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

 


2010 Award
Dado Planks
(Fat Brain Toys $44.95 Score:)

Let the building begin. This 106 piece set of 4.5" multicolored planks look a bit like a plastic version Citiblocks. However, 55 of the planks come with notches so that they clip together more soundly than the straight planks. These are a good choice for developing spatial relationships as well as patience and problem solving skills. The come with their own storage bag for safe. Neat keeping. Kids will find their own way of using these, but they can also use them for counters, sorting by color or notched attributes and mixed with other construction sets from the company, such as their Dado Cubes and Squares. Marked 3 & up. We think early school years kids will find still more uses for them.

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

SNAP Activities:
Use these pastel colored planks for matching. Sort by color or use them for making patterns - lime green, lemon yellow, melon orange, lime green lemon yellow - what comes next? There are enough pieces here for counting or sorting into ten-stacks and then counting by tens - to 100.

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

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2010 Award
GuideCraft Mirror Blocks
(Guidecraft $25.95 Score:)

For kids who are into building blocks, here is an exciting add-on - a set of ten smooth wooden blocks with mylar windows that reflect like a glass mirror without the danger of glass. They have rounded corners, include four shapes (rectangles, squares, triangles, and half moons) and are sized to match standard unit blocks. These will add a new dimension to buildings, inviting creative optical explorations. 3 & 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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Playmobil Fire Station
(Playmobil $99 Score:)

This Fire Station is the home base for the busy firefighters in the Fire Rescue Operation collection. It has a see through house with a working gate for the firefighting equipment to pass through. A helicopter can land on top and firefighters can go down the pole. There's a manually operated elevator for fire fighters to use to move accessories up and down between the two stories. There are lots of extras for this setting- a Hook and ladder truck with a ladder that extends 24" and has flashing lights. Also, a fire engine with fire hose and flashing lights. A fire fighting helicopter with hose and removable roof. Also new, a fire boat with trailer. Marked 4 & up, but you will need to do all the building. School aged kids will need help, but will benefit from putting it together and then using it for dramatic play.  Our testers LOVED the working water features of this set. The hoses really do squirt water from the tanks that kids can keep refilling.  The tanks have working valves that control the flow of the water.  Pretty amazing functionality for a toy set. Both our testers felt that the age label of 4 & up was not realistic (they were 8 and 10) - although they agreed that younger kids would enjoy playing with this set once they had grown up help setting it up.  Our 8 year old tester felt that of all the sets in this theme that the Fire Station itself was the best set because it "has places for all of the tools and a lot of space for all of your Playmobil guys to sit and do stuff."  He liked all of the little detail pieces that Playmobil is famous for: the little cards, the phone, the laptop, etc. He also thought that the Helicopter was particularly cool since it floats and there for could be use in the pool. 

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

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2010 Award
Playmobil Furnished School Building
(Playmobil $169.99 Score:)

Playing school is one of those classic themes, allowing kids to step into roles of control that they find so satisfying. In this miniature setting there is a detailed classroom, as well as science, art, and music rooms and let us not forget the principal's office. It's loaded with tons of kids, and accessories. It's 30" x 15" x 16" and has a clock with moving hands, a blackboard and school bell. There are add-ons that may be of interest: an attachable gym with scoreboard and all kinds of indoor equipment ($35.99) , a school crossing guard ($9.99), woodshop class ($12.99), school cafeteria $12.99), and school band$(6.99). 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
Playmobil African Wild Life
(Playmobil $69.99 Score:)

A new Wildlife Care Station with baby animals and an enclosure for keeping the animals. Comes with removable casts and bandages and a giraffe with a wound that disappears when it is "treated" by the vet in residence. There are lots of add-ons for this setting that include more animals and vehicles. Marked 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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Playmobil Great Dragon Castle
(Playmobil $159.99 Score:)

For fantasy play, this Great Dragon Castle is an amazing setting with two towers, a trap door, a working drawbridge, clinging trees, dungeon cells and beacons that light up. The set comes a lot of props for dramatic play...a red dragon, four fantasy knight figures with swords, shields and rune jewel. There's a working catapult, glow-in-the-dark skeleton and even a red badge that kids can wear. Requires 2 "AA" batteries, not included. In case that is not a big enough setting, you can add on The Dragon's Dungeon($78.99) another tower with giant light beam and lighted dart that flies. Our testers think this setting is awesome. They say 4 & up. We think you will need to be older to put the pieces together. More like a great choice for 7 & up, up,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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Playmobil Giant Dragon with LED-Fire
(Playmobil $35 Score:)

The "giant" red and black Giant Red Dragon with a giant 16" wing span has an integrated LED-Fire (sort of) coming out of its nostrils. In fact the nostrils light up in red, but nothing comes out, except in the imagination. The dragon’s jaw moves and its wings pivot. This fantasy action figure is a big but quick build. It has 23 pieces and comes with a knight in black and red that carries a battle ax and long silverfish lance. They say 4-9, we'd say more like 5-6's will need help and this looks like a toy for school aged kids, not preschoolers. 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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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LEGO DUPLO Cars Flo's Cafe
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

This 32 piece set will be a huge hit with your preschooler that has discovered and loves CARS. The set includes three of the characters: Lightning McQueen, Sally (the Porsche) and Doc Hudson.  Our testers loved that their preschoolers were able to put together the cars with little or no assistance.  Once they had them together, they are pleasingly to handle and move about Flo's Cafe. Our testers had the same concerns we did about the small parts. While all of the pieces are legally large enough (none fit entirely into a choke tube)--they are still pretty small.  One of our testers noted that her son, at three, still puts things in his mouth and the size of some of the pieces concerned her for this reason.  While we recommend the set for older preschoolers, the toy is marked 2 & up--and for that reason alone, we are not giving this set (and unfortunately many of the other wonderful Duplo sets) awards this year. We hope that the  company will either up-size the pieces on the small side or raise the age limit on the toy to at least 3 & up.  Since these are really such great toys for older 2s, we hope they decide to do the former.

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

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2010 Award
Lauri Locktagons
(Lauri $26.99 Score:)

These are different from the original crepe rubber Loctagons that were all flower shaped. There are 216 brightly colored pieces in the new set that come in three different geometric shapes and are made of hard plastic with slots that lock together. They can be used to build horizontally and vertically. There is no right or wrong way to build, yet fitting the pieces together calls for problem solving, logical thinking, and fine motor skills. This is the kind of hands on toy that builds spatial awareness as well as creative thinking. You can use these to sort by color or shape. Are there more blues or greens? Are there more yellows or oranges? Play with them for making patterns…red, blue, yellow, red blue…what comes next? Kids who are into counting can have fun counting them one by one or stacks of five or ten. Best of all, this is an open-ended construction toy that children keep coming back to and using in their own inventive ways. 3 & 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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
LEGO CITY Fire Station
(Lego Systems, Inc. $79.99 Score:)

A multi-level fire station that also includes a ladder truck and a smaller vehicle. We love that the truck ladder extends and turns 180 degrees. The Fire Station is part of the LEGO CITY theme - a fun collection of rescue vehicles and figures. We also like the new Fire Boat. Our only complaint about this set is the scale- as with many of the new LEGO structures, they have gotten smaller over recent years.  Our testers, unaware of the skrinkage issue, have no complaints. In fact, he really loved working on this set.  His review was so detailed that we need to share the mini-interview he had with his mom in regard to this product:

1. The set is very easy to build.  (He is an 8 year old experienced LEGO builder--and felt this set was particularly easy. He had to be dragged away to go to a ballgame!

2. The "storage" spaces on the building where the accessories go click  in". He mentioned fire hoses, axes, fire hydrants. "It makes it less confusing because every little piece has a place where it goes."

3. "I never thought the Lego City stuff was cool,  but it actually is really AWESOME." (This from a die-hard Lego "action" afficionado. )

4. He likes the moving parts -- sliding garage doors, swinging doors, removeable "hatches," etc.

5. He  also really likes that the bunk beds and all of the spaces for the mini-figures.

What I really love about his review is that the Fire Station has now become a "base" for all of his action figures--including his Star Wars characters--they all think the base is a pretty cool place to hang out!

The Fire Station comes with lots of props for pretend play after the building is done (there's even a cat  and tree). Five year olds will enjoy playing with this set, but they will not be able to build it independently-there are 662 pieces! We recommend making this a parent/child project for less experienced LEGO builders. 

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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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