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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2006 Award
Monster Art Center
(Alex $69.99 Score:) Imagine the thrill of opening this double-hinged art center with trays to the right, trays to the left, and trays below! It comes loaded with 30 fine-tip markers, 28 colored pencils, 26 crayons, 24 oil pastels, 12 watercolors, brushes, pencil, glue, and palette. The crayons aren’t as juicy as Crayola, but the materials and kit would be a dream gift to most art-minded kids! They say 4 & up, we’d say this is more like a gift for 6 & up. (800) 666-2539.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Beaded Dresser Set
(Creativity for Kids $14.99 Score:) Set comes with a small mirror set in wood, a ceramic heart frame and heart-shaped box, pastel colored beads, ribbons, and glue. A straightforward project that requires kids to spread the glue out and then spill beads onto the glue for decoration. The light beads have a “princess/fairy” look to them and will appeal to younger girls. 6 & up. (800) 311-8684.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
My Star Box
(Balitono $19.95 Score:) Our tester painted and then gave this star-shaped box as a gift for Mother’s Day. A real hit! A keepsake for any gift giving season.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
My Pinball Game Kit
(Balitono $19.95 Score:) Finding kits that will appeal to boys as well as girls is not always easy. This one was a hit with our eight-year old tester. Okay, it won’t compete with the electronic versions, but it will be unique! Also fun for dramatic play, My Doghouse Kit ($19.95 ), with pooch, house, and feeding bowl. Still top rated, My Horse Stable & Corral Kit ($25 ). PLATINUM AWARD ’05. (609) 936-8807.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Ceramic Swirl Art
(Alex $24.99 Score:) Classic spin art type toys are one of our all-time favorites so you can imagine how excited we were to find this new “spin” that includes ceramic plates and tiles that attach to the platform. You can set your designs by baking them. Adult supervision a must. Also fun and messy, Tie Dye Party ($19.99 4balls) but we’d skip Plaster Caster ($44.99 2 balls), which looked amazingly cool but we could not get a figure to form that wasn’t cracked. 8 & up. (800) 666-2539.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Wild Adventure Mini Golf
(Milton Bradley $49.99 Score:) This is a plug-in-and-putt game for multigenerational fun! Better than a trip to the miniature golf course, it has six different settings that players can swing through with the plastic putter and a tee that you turn to change the direction of the ball. Can be played solo or with others. Another good choice for getting kids up on their feet and playing actively. 6 & up. (888) 836-7025.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Teddy the Teaching Bear
(Educational Insights $19.99 Score:) Colors, shapes, counting and other matching games are built into this clever little no-batteries needed quiz machine. More fun than a workbook, but the content is similar. There are 24 two sided cards that fit into a grid. Look at item on the left and find the matching item in the grid. Place the Teddy on the right match and its arm goes up. SO this is a self-correcting toy that reinforces reading symbols from left to right. No reading is required, but the mechanics of reading line-by-line and left to write and seeing details, as well as matching and language are all built into the play. They say 3 & up. We’d say more like 4-5. (800) 995-4436.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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Bella Dancerella
(Spinmaster $29.99 Score:) This dancing DVD with props did not impress our testers or their moms. One word: “Boring,” said our 8-year-old testers who felt the intro took way too long. The references to using your left and right foot are going to be well beyond most 4, 5 and 6s. One tester liked the new Tap Dance DVD but the adjustable tap dance shoes did not stay on—no matter what they tried. (800) 622-8339.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
WonderFoam Big Letters
(Chenille Kraft Co. $11.5 Score:) Twenty-six big colorful foam letters. These are fun to trace and stick to the wet wall of the tub to spell out names and words. These have an interesting texture, as well, that make them an even better sensory learning tool. Activity: Because these letters have a textured finish they can be used for crayon rubs. Put a sheet of paper on top of a letter and use the side of a crayon to rub over the letter. Make a name sign with rubbings. Also, WonderFoam Magnetic Letters and Numbers ($10.50 )—unlike old-time plastic magnetic letters with tiny magnets that can be a choking hazard, these foam letters are completely backed with magnetic material that mirrors their shape. Also, new WonderFoam Dominoes SNAP AWARD ($15.50 ) Twenty-eight big dominoes with colorful dots that are color-coded to match. One can feel some sensory information in the cut-out form of the dots. They are not raised, but you can feel their outline. A great matching game. (800) 621-1261.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Pixel Chix
(Mattel $29.95 Score:) Watch a 2-D image of a girl move about in her house. Help her pick what's she going to do (rollerblade vs. watch TV), what she's going to eat or wear. There are five different levels of play and, like a virtual pet, she'll let you know if she's happy or sad. The coolest feature: you can connect two houses together and the chix will visit each other. A little noisy at times but will fit in a backpack for on the go fun.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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