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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
Janod Lou Plays Veterinary Puzzles
(Janod $17.99 Score:)

Four cardboard puzzles come in this carry-all cardboard case. Each features a little veterinarian at work in her office, caring for animals and doing her computer entries. The four puzzles have 6, 9, 12, or 16 pieces, each in its own plastic baggie. They need to be kept separated. Naturally, they get progressively harder, so you may want to put the harder ones away and introduce them gradually.  3-5

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Green Toys My First Keys
(Green Toys $9.99 Score:)

Four pastel teething keys on a yellow ring that babies can chew, shake and manipulate. They make a nice clattering sound and are made from 100% recycled plastic in the USA. They contain no BPA, phthalates, or PVC. Infants

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Learning Resources Science Plant and Grow Set
(Learning Resources $26 Score:)

For budding scientists, here is a 12-piece kit with see through rooting trays, pots, observation jar with vented lid, watering can, trowel, plant markers and best of all--10 on-the-mark activity cards that invite kids to grow a variety of plants. Use found materials, like the top of a pineapple, radishes, carrots, popping corn kernels, and a clove of garlic. For other experiments, bring home seeds for beans and chives. The round observation jar with a lid can become a small terrarium with plants found in the yard or park. The activity cards provide realistic gardening experiments that preschoolers can do with help from an adult or older sib. True, you could use many of the containers you own without the set, but this gives the process structure in a playful way. Hopefully you will do that, too. To enlarge the experiences, take photos as each experiment progresses to make a small personal log or simple personalized book of their growing experiments.  Our tester "loved planting the seeds and labeling the various pots. He lso loved wtering his plants. Finally, there is a clear rooting tray and an observation jar included with the set, so he loved observing his plants take root and grow within the soil. He had never seen how roots grow and develop before so it was a new experience for him."  They did report some things they thought were drawbacks: the set does not come with soil or seeds--so right from the start you need to buy things before you can start. The set also only comes with one observation jar even though there are five experiments that call for the observation jar. Our tester felt that the best part of the set were the in ten activity cards. They also gave Learning Resources high marks for having on line extension activities. 3 & up.

SNAP: This hands-on kit is an excellent set of activities that all children can enjoy on various levels. Involving children in the process is a very satisfying ongoing activity.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Lego Friends Stephanie's Soccer Practice
(Lego Systems, Inc. $9.99 Score:)

A small 80-piece kit with props and Stephanie mini-figure and her pup with props for soccer and snacks. Packed full of items such as a goal, ball, soccer ball launcher, obstacle course and more.   Also new and top-rated in the Friends line, Emma's Karate Class, a 93-piece set. 5-12

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
LEGO City Tanker Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:) A 191-piece tanker truck that is somewhat simpler than some of the others. Designed for less experienced builders, it is a modular build. The set includes a stand alone gas pump with retractable hose, valve and fire extinguisher. The green and white tanker comes with an action figure driver who fits in the cab, can climb on the truck ladder and work the gas pump. A good build with plenty of dramatic play once the pieces are fit together. Marked 5 -12, it took our seven year old tester just under 2 hours to build.  Feedback included: "He likes that the truck side pivots open so you can put the race car inside (it does make it less stable though). The back of the truck also flips open and you can insert the car that way as well. He also likes that the cab of the truck swivels left and right as you "drive" it around. He says he wishes the little cabinet was big enough to fit all of the tools. He also likes that the set comes with three guys!"

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Lego 3-in-1 Super Racer
(Lego Systems, Inc. $16.99 Score:)

New to the clever Creator line of builds, this 121-piece set can be put together in three different versions: a quad bike, go-kart or racing car. These make terrific birthday gifts for all the parties your child attends. 6-12.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Lego City Flatbed Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

Divided into sub-models for an easy start, this orange flatbed truck tips to allow the red convertible roll off. The set comes with two mini-figures and accessories. A 212-piece set for kids 5-12.

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Lego Monster Trucks
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

Designed for younger builders, this 197-piece set comes with cards with step by step bold plans. Kids make three rough and tumble vehicles, and a judges stand. Once they build the vehicles there's plenty of dramatic play action. We think many 4's will have dexterity challenges and may need some help in getting started. These are marked for 4-7.

Note our more experienced 6 year old builder felt this set "wasn't like LEGOs"...because the instructions are simplified.  "It actually seems like they just omitted instructions. All that is included are three laminated cards (pics below) with the vehicle featured and small sections magnified. To (our builder), the chronological step by step instructions are what he loves about the build and what 'makes them Legos'."

""""""In otherwords, this is a good place to start with building LEGO sets.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Lego City Fire Station
(Lego Systems, Inc. $91.36 Score:)

Top of the LEGO City Fire line, this three-story fire station is a perfect setting for all the action and drama of a firehouse. There's a firetruck with reeling hose, extending ladder, and real rubber tires; a helicopter with spinning rotors; five minifigures, a fire van with emergency lights and fire extinguisher. The building itself has bay doors that open to let the truck drive in and out. It has a helipad on top and a 3-story fire pole that figures can go down. There are al sort of firefighting accessories such as walkie-talkies, phone, toolbox, computer, and furniture. The modular build means that related pieces are packaged together and can be assembled in sub-sections. No more dumping all the pieces and then trying to find little pieces in a sea of many. The process is partially sorted to make it less confusing. This elaborate set has 752 pieces in all and will provide a wonderful dramatic play setting after the challenge of building is completed.  6-12.

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Lego City Cement Mixer
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

Another in the modular builds, designed to simplify the process. This cement mixer has a rotating drum, a movable chute and the cab section actually tips fir access to the engine! It includes two construction workers, with wheelbarrow, bricks, and a cup for coffee breaks. The 221-piece set is a challenging, but satisfying construction set. 5-12

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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