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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2015 Award
V-tech Kidizoom Actioncam
(V-tech $59.99 Score:)

Our first tester (10 years old) really raved about this action cam, saying that it is like "Go Pro" for kids. It comes with an underwater, waterproof case, an attachment for a bike, as well as a stationary stand. It takes photos, video, and stop motion video. Fun but least important it has three games to play. Our tester's favorite was the stop motion that she found fun to customize with music and self-timing. She liked some of the cute graphics to apply to videos and photos as well. Most of these bells and whistles will be beyond the four year old label on the box, though they will be able to capture their view of the world with some instructions and experimentation. That's the great thing, experimenting doesn't cost a bunch the way photo printing used to, so let them snap it and learn as they explore. But, as with so many toys with broad age labels we suggest that the sweet spot for this one is well beyond the preschool age label. We'd say 5-8's are a better bet. 

 

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Magformers Walking Robot Set
(Magformers $109 Score:)

Robots on the go, that's what kids can build with this 45-piece set of magformers because these robots have feet for walking about! The kit comes with step-by-step instructions or you can watch the action on you tube for a fun demonstration. Like other sets, this is marked 3 & up, but is really more appropriate for the 5-8 age range. They will be able to follow the plans and benefit from doing so, though fives will need help. If you can't wait to buy this for a preschooler, you'll find this is more like a parent-child toy with you doing the building and your child waiting to do the playing. Want to involve them in the building, ask them to help you find a particular color or shape. Doing it together gives them strategies for independent bulding down the road. We think this is a better choice for 5-8.

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
R&R Face Chase Game
(R&R Games $14.99 Score:)


Players race to be the first to get rid of all their double sided face cards by matching one of four attributes on the center card. Do you have a card with the same hair? Eyes? Mouth? Nose? Players race to fill the four points on the board as they get rid of their cards. Getting early school aged kids to look at the details in a picture is a skill they need for seeing the differences between words that look almost alike. A fast fun family game for kids. Can be fun for 2-5 players, ages 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Horizon It's So Me Word Wear
(Horizon $9.99 Score:)

For the money you can't beat this bead set with over 278 alphabet Beads, 600 accent beads,78 alphabet metallic slider beads with two glitter bands to slide them onto, and three kinds and weights of cording (Elastic, Satin, and Waxed cotton). Kids can make an endless supply of bracelets to wear of give. The set pictured here is the one we tested and the one with slider beads and glitter bands. THere are other sets with a similar name that we have not tested. Just one BIG caution: Getting the packaging opened it not for kids to do on their own. Two adults working together managed to get the top and base apart without too much spillage, but it could easily of ended up all over the table or floor or both. Take your time opening this with great care! That said, the cording is stiff enough to use without the need for a needle and the beads are really varied but nice! Available at Target. 

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Magformers Walking Dinosaur Set
(Magformers $219.00 Score:)

A marvelous 81-piece set of magnetic shapes and plans for building many different dinosaurs that will actually walk after they are built. Given the big outlines of the magnetic pieces, these are not highly realistic looking models, yet very satisfying approximations. Best of all they can be loaded with a power pack that brings these extinct giants to life. There is a step-by-step direction book and you can watch them being assembled on a you tube demo. Like other sets, this is marked 3 & up, but is really more appropriate for the 5-8 age range. They will be able to follow the plans and benefit from doing so, though fives will need help. If you canít wait to buy this for a preschooler, youíll find this is a more like a parent-child toy with you doing the building and your child waiting to do the playing. A much better choice for 5-8. Note: The price on these sets are very high-but we've noticed that they are discounted if you shop around.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Magformers Heavy Duty Set
(Magformers $199.99 Score:)

Wowee! You have to see all the ways this construction set can be transformed into vehicles that builders can then play with by remote control. The 72-piece set comes with a powerful motor that activates a fork lift, snow plow, bulldozer, dump truck, tunnel borer, to name just a few of the possible working models. Note: the motor has a labored sound that our tester commented on. That said we were pretty impressed with the versatile collection of vehicles that can be built with this set. Check out the video of this toy to get a sense of its many possibilities. Marked 3+, we would say this is a toy is really for early school years, 5-8's, not preschoolers, unless you plan to make this a parent-child toy with you doing the building and your child mostly doing the watching. Note: The prices on these sets are very high-but we have noticed that they are being discounted if you shop around. 

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Hape Ice Cream Emporium
(HaPe $149 Score:)

Our testers live in sunny California, so this is an outdoor/indoor year round pretend prop for them. A handsome ice cream cart with blue and white awning that is easy to move about. Young entrepreneurs can open the collapsible side table for serving customers. Our older tester loves to write the flavors of the day on the chalk-board front, along with her name. Her dad found it easy to assemble in about thirty minutes and sturdy, as well. It's a big but versatile prop that will be used over the long haul, not just for ice cream, but perhaps a lemonade stand, bookmobile, fruit stand, whatever creative players dream up. 3 & up

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Award
Super Genius Games, Addition or Multiplication
(Blue Orange Games $12.99 Score:)

Like all the Super Genius Games, there is always a match between any two cards. With the Addition game at least one sum on one card will match as equation on another card. Players must find a pair. Their Multiplication game works the same way. These are not for kids who are at the very beginning of learning to add or multiply. They are for that next level, when kids know their math facts but need to pick up speed. These are good games for reinforcing facts that kids eventually need to know instantaneously. The Super Genius reading cards are the same. Choose from First Words, all three letter words or Reading 1 and 2, with more complex words that kids match to pictures. Kids can play these cards solo or with an older player. These are not meant to be flash cards, but they do require a certain amount of fluency. Remember with beginners building confidence is as important as building competence. So, if this is stressful, put the cards away for a time. 6 & up

 

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

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2015 Award
Super Genius Games, First Words and Reading 1 and 2
(Blue Orange Games $12.99 Score:)

Like all the Super Genius Games, there is always a match between any two cards. With First Words, the three letter words on one card will always have one word that matches a picture card with multiple pictures on it. It calls for visual perception and speedy reading to spot the pairs. A fun game after beginning readers have picked up ease with the vowels. They can play these cards solo or with an older player. These are not meant to be flash cards, but they do require a certain amount of fluency. Remember with beginners building confidence is as important as building competence. So, if this is stressful, put the cards away for a time. Super Genius Reading 1and 2 games work the same way but with longer words. Also, helpful, See Super Genius Addition and Multiplication. Players must find a pair of cards with an equation on one card and its equivalent on the other. Again this is not for kids who are at the very beginning of learning to add or multiply. They are for the time when kids know their math facts but need to pick up speed. These are games for reinforcing facts that kids eventually need to know instantaneously. 6 & up

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Magformer 44 Piece Unique Set
(Magformers $99.99 Score:)

You'll be amazed at all the constructions kids can make with the five geometric shapes that come in this 44 piece set. It includes squares, sectors, arches, cones and sphere sectors. A step-by-step booklet will show the way and before long they will be making their own creations. These magnetic building pieces are safe since all the magnets are inside the geometric forms. Happily, they are also compatible with all other magformer sets. Marked for 3 & up, but will probably be a better choice for older 4-7. Like other sets in this line, these are open-ended, even though they come with models kids can replicate.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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