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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
LEGO City Airport Fire Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

Call the fire truck to the rescue! A nice 326-piece build for beginner builders, this jaunty red fire truck comes with two firefighters, a retractable hose and fake water for putting out the pretend "engine fire." 5-12 years.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
LEGO CITY High-speed Passenger Train
(Lego Systems, Inc. $149.99 Score:)

Our tester was very excited to see the reintroduction of a train set to LEGO. Modeled on a European high-speed train with three train cars, track and a remote control device that has 7 speeds. The set includes a IR-Receiver, a Motor and a Battery Box. The high speed train has side doors that open as well as the front for loading engineer and passengers. Compatible with the new Train Station set.
6-12 years.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
LEGO CITY Police Station
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.99 Score:)

An update on the 2009 Police Station Headquarters. The 854-piece build is multi-level with both a police station and jailing area. Comes with an assortment of vehicles to build (a car, a police car, a police motorcycle and a police helicopter). A big gift and great parent child project to enjoy together. 6-12. Can be used with the LEGO CITY Helicopter Transporter (382 pieces) that comes with a flatbed truck, a racing car, a race car, a helicopter and a motorcycle and an assortment of good and bad guys (with stolen loot!). Our 7-year old tester and his almost 6-year old brother are "having a blast making stories up" with the figures that came with the set. "The toilet/trap door was a big hit…they have really enjoyed all the detailed pieces…such as handcuffs, computers, cups…yes! There are lots of details so there are many ways to play with it…so they never get bored." Since the boys are on the younger side of the suggested age, building the large structure was a little frustrating and they needed help. "They worked on it for an hour, then leave it…do something else and then come back to it." That is fine. Big projects are not instantaneous—staying with a task over time is an important life lesson. Parents can help but try not to take over.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Disney Princess LEGO Cinderella's Romantic Castle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:)

Cinderella has arrived in LEGO land. This multi-layered white castle has accents of blue, lavender and pink (of course). We love the detail (down to the glass slipper) so that once you're done building, you have a pretend setting to retell the story. With 646 pieces, this is a sizeable set to work on together with a new builder or for a more experienced intermediate LEGO builder alone. Set includes the unforgettable, Prince Charming--  and a place for him to dance with Cinderella.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
LEGO Friends Rapunzel's Creativity Tower
(Lego Systems, Inc. $39.99 Score:)

Remember the tale of Rapunzel, who was stuck up in a tower by a wicked witch, until she cleverly lets down her hair and escapes? Now kids can build the tower and replay this well loved fairy tale. With 299 pieces, this is not a huge build but a place to get started with building. Who knows? Maybe Rapunzel went on to become an engineer!

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Seedling Mini Collage Kit
(Seeding $18.99 Score:)

An open-ended kit with a good supply of pompoms, feathers, googlie eyes, rhinestones, glitter, and glue. Fun for making imaginative greeting cards, posters, and constructions. Lots of little pieces so this needs to be out of reach of toddlers.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
The Big Creativity Can
(Creativity for Kids $19.99 Score:)

We love this open-ended cardboard box with and amazing assortment of art materials that will invite all kinds of imaginative explorations! There are feathers, pompoms, bells, chenille sticks, pop sticks, holographic stickers, packs of clay, wiggly eyes, felt, mesh tubing, corrugated paper, sticky foams squares, patterned papers, scissors, foam shapes, satin cord--and NO INSTRUCTIONS! That is right. They are left out on purpose. It's all in the hands and eyes of the creative thinker. A great family gift that many children can share with more than 100 pieces. 4 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Thomas & Friends Track Master, Avalanche Escape Set
(Fisher-Price $65 Score:)

Getting this 6-foot long roadway built is going to be an adult project that kids can help you do. Once the set-up is made, Thomas is in for quite a ride over the mountaintop track. As he climbs the steep incline he literally has to fly across the huge gap in the tracks. As he zooms down the mountain he goes over a rickety ridge that has collapsing guardrails and then into a cave. This set comes with track adaptors so that more track can be added to make this a part of a larger set-up. As a stand alone, it is a pretty closed system that does the same trick again and again. Yes, it is novel and a wow-ee kind of show the first few times. We think it may lose some appeal after the tricks become old hat. We strongly suggest additional tracks to make this a more viable play experience. 3-6

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Colossal Art Set
(Alex $47.95 Score:)

Talk about big presents--this takes the prize for the young artist in the family. Perhaps it is more like a gift for the whole family to share and enjoy for all kinds of creative projects. This gigantic 315-piece set includes 40 crayons, 20 pastels, 48 fine markers, 36 watercolor cakes, 36 jumbo markers, 24 colored pencils, 24 watercolor pencils, drawing pencils, erasers, 4 sharpeners, 18 paint brushes, stickers, paper, and pallets. All these tools for creativity are housed in a gigantic fitted box.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
LEGO Juniors Pony Farm
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

A hot pink trunk comes filled with pre-packed bags that contain all the pieces that go along with the easy to follow pictorial directions. All of this provides the support young builders need for getting started with important construction play. Designed to attract young girls and develop their comfort level with spatial thinking skills that formerly were considered a boys-only area. This 308-piece set can be used in open-ended ways or to follow the directions to build a Pony Farm that can be used for dramatic play. We know there are some who find the pink containers and their themes too gender specific, but in fact, if that brings girls to the construction toy aisle we say go for it! That's the way to help them develop dexterity, patience, STEM skills and imagination.4-7

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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