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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2009 Award
Creativity for Kids Butterfly Paper Mobile
(Creativity for Kids $18 Score:)

This is a challenging kit that will take patience and fine motor skills. The pre-cut butterflies need to be assembled after they are colored and then hung so that they balance and move on the metal mobile frame. This is no simple task from assembly to completion. That said, it does end up as an attractive decoration for kids to hang in their rooms with a sense of pride and accomplishment. We usually steer away from coloring projects, but this is a lot more. In fact the coloring part is the smallest part of this activity that may require some adult assistance. 7 & 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Creativity for Kids Show Horse and Stable
(Creativity for Kids $24.95 Score:)

Our tester liked assembling this small stable, painting it and adding stickers for trim. Once it is done there’s a show horse to decorate with spots and bridle, reins, saddle and blanket. For young horse lovers this is an entertaining kit that combines crafts and a finished product for dramatic play. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Awards
Big Fun Crafts
(Creativity for Kids $24.95 Score:)

A wonderful compartmentalized craft box with more than 300 pieces! An ideal box of supplies for playdates, rainy days or quiet summer afternoons. Comes with supplies that include 30+ yards of ribbon and yarn, multi-colored pom poms, glitter pom poms, pipe cleaners, rainbow craft sticks, feathers, scissors, and a whole lot more to get the creative juices flowing. They say 3 & up. We’d say many of these items would be slightly better with 4-7’s. 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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2009 Award
Polka Dot Purse
(Creativity for Kids $17.99 Score:)

A cute violet canvas purse with more than 100 felt stick ons to decorate it. Comes with a ribbon that feeds through the loops on top for a finished craft look. This is a simple to do kit with no right or wrong way of designing. Yet, the finished product is pretty enough to carry with the pride of being able to say...”I made it myself!” The box say 3 & up. We’d say 5 & up is closer to the right age. 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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2009 Award
Mega Bloks Streetz Series
(Mega Bloks $9.99 Score:)

A collection of small builds fit together to create a city setting. They come with two small vehicles, one of which lights up and a ramp for doing acrobatic stunts.  We tested the Donut Dash shop with a revolving giant donut on top and the Micro Motors garage with a pizza shop. These are small quick builds with play value. They will also appeal to the collecting bug that school age kids often have. 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. Award Year: 2009.

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2009 Awards
Wikki Stix Activities
(International Playthings $30 Score:)

This carrying case is loaded with waxed strings known as wikki stix that come in many colors and can be bent into letters, numerals and animal shapes. This set includes activity cards that can be used as templates or the materials can be used in an open ended way. This kind of activity involves the fine motor skills kids will need for writing, so this is a fun way to develop those finger muscles without drilling with pencil and paper tasks. 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Secret Pocket Capes
(North American Beara $40 Score:)

These satin capes are fun for playing fantasy games such as super hero, princess or magician. They are fitted out with a big pocket on the back for displaying your own special crest. For the aspiring magician, there are pockets inside for setting up amazing tricks—stowing the magic bunny or scarves to abracadabra! These are two-tone capes with colorful contrasting linings. Choose red, hot pink or blue.  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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Awards
LeapFrog Scribble & Write
(LeapFrog $22 Score:)

There is a screen on this little letter toy that asks you to trace the shapes shown. Like your old magic slate, you can “erase” the shapes you trace. Here’s the problem…it will tell you good job even when you do not trace what is there! We like electronic toys to be kind, but giving false praise can be confusing. The letter games are simple tracing. You push a letter on the keyboard and it says the name of the letter and then lights up a template on the screen to trace. Unlike so many toys, this one does have both upper and lower case letters---that is a good thing. The curves on the screen are not exactly round, but they are not bad. After the letter has been traced the child is also told what sound the letter makes. The final game asks kids to watch the lines on the screen form a letter and when recognized push the right key on the keyboard. We’d say, skip the shape game with its misleading praise and go right to the letters. They say 3 & up, we’d say 4-5 is closer to the truth.

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

 

This is a straightforward toy for helping children who are learning to shape their letters. Keep in mind that following the lighted up letters is just one way to develop those skills. You can also give them a more direct experience by having them “write” with their fingers in wet sand or in a pan of flour…trace the first letter of your child’s name in the sand….have him trace it. Wipe it away and demo again how you do this and have him trace again. Eventually ask him to draw the letter so you can trace the letter he writes.
Avoid trying to do all the letters at one time. Pick two or three at most and keep the letters related in shape…i.e. do three stick shaped letters on the same day, such as L, T, and X. Or on another day work on C, O, and Q.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Dressable Madeline
(Kids Preferred $30 Score:)

Welcome back, Madeline! From time to time this storybook character exits for a season or two and then happily resurfaces. This season she is back in a all her classic glory. This all fabric doll with her red hair, her bright yellow hat and blue velour coat, plaid school girl dress and black shoes is ready to be dressed and undressed. Oh, yes, she has her requisite appendix scar. Bring her home with one or more of the books or the many videos with Christopher Plummer narrating. Also new this season, a 70th Anniversary version of Madeline in a toile print dress. We think this version will be of more interest to collectors. We prefer the classic Madeline in coat and hat. 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
eeBoo Friendship and Forest Companions Puzzles
(eeBoo $15 Score:)

There are four 25-piece puzzles in each set designed by well known artists. Brandon Reese did the charming Friendship collection and Kevin Hawkes did the Forest Companions. Each of the puzzles has a distinctive backing pattern and there are fames that also help should the pieces get mixed up. Giving kids strategies for putting the frame together first will help beginners in jigsaw puzzles get started. 5-8.
     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.

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