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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 

 
2014 Awards
Clifford the Big Red Dog Food Science Kit
(The Young Scientists Club $19.99 Score:)

One of the award winning Young Scientist Club kits designed for preschoolers. These are age appropriate experiments for parent & child projects. An interesting way to introduce preschoolers to some fundamental science experiences. Most of the ingredients needed have to come from your refrigerator or pantry. The kit contains a paper booklet with recipes for each experiment and some minimal plastic pieces: a funnel, tray, test tubes, two so-called cups, a lab tray, pipette, spoon, clothespin, special papers, and sticks for rock candy making. Be forewarned, the images and text may be a bit confusing. For example, the recipe for making ice cream says to use a "measuring cup" and the illustration further confounds the confusion by showing a hand with a good size cup in it, but do not use your own measuring cup. You are supposed to use the thimble-size measuring cup in the kit or there is no way the ingredients will fit in the plastic bags they provide. An unfortunate choice of words or materials. That said, the ideas here are going to be appealing to kids and promote the world of STEM right from the start. 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
Magic School Bus Engineering Kit
(Young Scientists Club $39.99 Score:)

Our 7 & 9-year old testers had good fun exploring Ms Frizzles wonderful world of engineering. Their mom wrote the kit was "high on educational value, high on adult participation." There are experiments that involve designing a car, constructing a bridge, building a solar oven, a submarine, and an electric game and many other activities. Our testers liked the balloon jet experiment best. An active way to introduce them to the world of chemical, electrical, mechanical and civil engineering. The bus-shaped kit comes with 33 easy-to-understand and follow experiment cards, a notebook for recording experiments, and is chock full of science components: a solar panel, motor, buzzer, electric wires, and lots more. Another good choice for playful and engaging STEM learning. Ages: 5 and up.

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

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2014 Awards
Tobo Toy Track Set
(Tobo Toys $40 Score:)

Our testers liked this versatile and unusual new track that comes with only one small wooden car, but will be used with other vehicles and wooden train track set-ups. The twelve wooden pieces have multiple interlocking tabs in several shapes that are imprinted with numerals to match up. There are a variety of ways to make these connections, so in spite of the numerals, it is a pretty open-ended track that is compatible with Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends, Brio and other car and train tracks. A fun accessory for problem solving, matching numerals, fine motor skills, creative thinking, and giving old track toys a new possibilities. 3 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Creativity for Kids My First Fun Felt Masks
(Creativity for Kids $14.99 Score:)

Designed for young crafters, this kit comes with six colorful foam-backed felt masks that are already to wear with adjustable elastic bands and tons of felt stickers, self-adhesive rhinestones, curly yarn that is silky to the touch and instructions. Most kids will have their own ideas on how to make a one-of-a-kind mask. This is a mess-free kit with no glue needed. While this is a kit that can be enjoyed solo, it’s also grand for a birthday or Halloween party activity—the masks becomes a favor to take home; also a good choice to share on a playdate. 3 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Calico Critters Berry Grove Elementary School
(International Playthings $79.99 Score:)

Fans of Calico Critters will love this two-level school setting that comes with desks, chairs, a working clock, books and even an apple for the teacher. Our testers always love the minature world of these little animal families. In keeping with the new school theme, there is also a wonderful new School Bus that comes with a working handle that opens the door (very neat). Critters can also be accessed through the opening on the top of the bus. New families for 2014 include: Beavers, Chipmunks and Polar Bears. The "family" can also get about in the new very spiffy Cherry Cruiser. One note: The school and bus do not come with any Calico Critters even though the box shows them so occupied.

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

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2014 Award
Neat Oh ZipBin 1000 Brick Toy Box
(Neat-Oh $22.99 Score:)

No reason to step on another LEGO brick with these hand and lightweight storage containers from Neat Oh. We like that they zip open so your child can uses them as a play space. They zip up and come with a cover that also attaches well. The line includes a basic LEGO Toy Box as well as one for the LEGO FRIENDS line. If 1,000 Bricks doesn't feel big enough, they also have a box intended for 4,000 Bricks!

Without lids. We like the idea of the lid, but if you're looking for something open, they also have smaller 3000 Brick Bins in both the original LEGO colors and the LEGO FRIENDS lavender/purple combo. The Storage Baskets come with the added featured of printed motifs on the inside.

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

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2014 Award
Neat Oh Hot Wheels Racing Battle Case
(Neat-Oh $24.99 Score:)

We love the design of this all plastic hard case that can hold up to twenty Hot Wheels cars. It comes with an ramp that extends so that you can send four cars at a time racing down from the top of the case. It does not come with any cars.

Neat Oh  makes a wide variety of soft cases/bins for Hot Wheels. In the soft cases, our testers loved the Hot Wheels Zip Bin with enough storage for one hundred cars. This one comes with one car. If you're looking for something more on the go, take a look at their new 45 Car Crash Racer Backpack ($19.99). It opens up with a race track design inside. Comes with one car.

 

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

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2014 Award
Neat Oh Hot Wheels Wheelie 100 Car Case
(Neat-Oh $22.99 Score:)

If you have a Hot Wheels fan in your house, this will be a sure-fire hit. The case in the shape of a wheel comes with one car and room for 99 others. What makes it even better when you completely unzip the container you can create a race track for two cars in between the larger "wheel" sections. Fun! If you're looking for an even bigger storage/play solution, look at their 300 Car Storage Cube ($24.99). We like that you keep up two of the walls to give you a play setting or unzip the case entirely for a larger flat surface.  The inside is printed with roadways and a place to gas up. The soft cube comes with a lid and two soft handles for easy moving about.

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

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2013 Award
My Girl's Dollhouse
(Good Toy $399 Score:)

A wow-wee (pricey) over-the-top 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide dollhouse that's big enough to use with American Girl and other 18" dolls. Our testers couldn't get over how enormous this pretend setting is when fully constructed.  Our parent testers thought this 100% pine wood frame went together well. The front of the house has a design --but here's the deal.  SAFETY NOTE: You have to use the SAFETY STRAP included to prevent this oversized structure from tipping over. So the design on the front isn't something you're going to see once you've put it together and secured to the wall. Of course this means that this is also a dollhouse for playrooms with lots of space. The product is marked for kids 8 & up, but we know it will be purchased for kids much younger - and even tall 8 year olds will need a stool to reach the top. So the safety strap is essential.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2014 Award
Life On Earth Simple Bingo
(eeBoo $14.95 Score:)

A new take on the classic Bingo game with beautiful illustrations from Melissa Sweet. Comes with six game cards, 36 game pieces and a cotton drawstring bag. The pieces feature a wide-range of things you find in nature: cardinals, butterflies, a pine tree, cactus, flowers...you get the idea.  Also new and noteworthy, Parlor Bingo.  It comes with old-fashioned numbered cards and a master sheet.  The "markers" come in a cotton drawstring bag.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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