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

 


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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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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