Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2013 Award
Backyard Safari Critter Shack
(Backyard Safari Outfitters $12.99 Score:)

Kids can collect and observe their live finds in this clearview housing that works with wet or dry conditions. The clear view container is water-tight and has a mesh lid so critters can breathe. There is a sturdy carrying handle. 5 & up.

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

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2012 Awards
Creativity For Kids Complete Paper Making Kit
(Creativity for Kids $29 Score:)

Part Science/part art this is a kit with everything needed to turn old paper into new. Kids can make their own paper and decorate it for cards. Comes with shredded paper, but you can recycle the many kinds of paper that come into your home. The kit includes a basin, paper making tray, screens, sponge, paper punch, scissors, stencil and many more goodies. This is a kit that introduces how to create your own tags, cards and even jewelry.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Demolition Lab Triple Blast Warehouse
(SmartLab $39.99 Score:) We had some disagreement about this toy with such strong opinions on both sides.  So if it sounds silly to have a toy that you build only to then blow apart - then know we hear you.  On the other hand, it is really fun and actually a hands-on physics lesson (energy, momentum and don't forget gravity). The kit also requires a great deal of building and patience for that very brief moment of glory in pushing the button that brings down your structure. In an age of videos, we imagine that kids will not only love building the warehouse, but videotapping the take down.  Comes with 100 pieces for building the warehouse however you feel on a particular day.

 

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

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2013 Award
Backyard Safari Mini Scoop Net
(Backyard Safari Outfitters $9.99 Score:)

Our testers fought over taking turns over who would use this sturdy net to catch moving things in their backyard. We don't usually recommend toys that involve fighting, but in this instance we simply suggest buying two. Great for catching pollywogs, butterflies, lizards or whatever. The lightweight net is perfect for wet or dry tasks and like your old Ivory soap...it floats! 

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
Corolle Les Cheries Cecile A La Tour Eiffel
(Corolle $51.99 Score:)

We want to be Cecile when we grow up - down to her two-toned Chanel-inspired ballet slippers. Ready to tour all the sights in Paris, Cecile is the latest addition to this Platinum Award winning line of 13" dolls that celebrate girls (not girls dressed up as women). There are additional dolls and clothes in this collection (happily, they can all share the same wardrobe).  Each comes with an all vinyl body and the signature scent of vanilla. Tre joile!

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
Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror
(Mattel $69.99 Score:)

We're not really big fans of toys for apps. That said, if you have a child who loves pretend, make-up, has access to an i-pad, and you have an extra $70 to spend - you will want to know about this latest Barbie interactive toy. The actual toy is a small plastic vanity with lights on either side. In addition to an i-pad, you'll need batteries, too. There is a palette of make-up on the platform and a magical applicator. The makeup is not real--but has colors that you select, but I'm getting ahead here. The mirror of the vanity is your ipad. Just be sure it's really securely in place. You'll need to download the app and now the fun begins. For any kids who have dreamed about putting on lots of makeup (but knows they'll get in trouble for invading mom's makeup) this is really a fantasy world. The app takes your picture and then you can get busy adding eye shadow, lipstick, blush...you name it.  Remember the palette of makeup that wasn't really make-up?  You can select any color and brush it on with applicator. Blue lips, purple eyes, green rouge - whatever you can imagine, you can put on.  There are fun masks and pre-made face art to explore as well. The app allows you to save your "face art."

Our general problem with such App gear? Something feels a little off about recommending toys that require a $400+ tablet to play. There's also the issue that since kids spend enough time playing on tablets and smartphones, do we really need to buy toys that encourage them to stay on longer? We think not so much. Screen time of any kind is screen time. Just like TV time, video game time, handheld gaming...this is not a new debate - just new technology.

With all of those reservations - we know this toy will be a HUGE hit with a certain audience. It's well executed and fun to play.

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

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2013 Award
LEGO Kings Castle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.99 Score:)

We love that in the land of licensed lines, LEGO still makes an old-fashion Castle complete with draw bridge, towers, king's throne, collapsing wall, and most appealing to our testers a hidden escape door. Comes with seven mini figures including the King and the White Knight. The game play focuses on keeping the castle safe from the evil Dragon warriors. The build is done in sections -making the castle more manageable for younger builders. The castle is a great parent-child opportunity.

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 Creator Thunder Wings
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

Our LEGO testers consistently love builds from the Creator series since they include three builds from the same set. With this set you can make a jet, a robot, or a futuristic car. With only 235 pieces this is a very good place to start with beginner builders.  

 

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
Swish Junior
(ThinkFun $12.99 Score:)

One of the most elegant card games we tested this year. Swish Junior comes with 45 transulcent cards that have shapes (a diamond, star, circle) placed on different locations on the cards. A "swish" is made when you can stack up two cards so that the images line up.  Sometimes this requires that you turn the card and to line up a solid circle with an open-circle- calling for great visual discrimination skills.  They say 5 & up, we'd say this a great parent-child game at the younger range. Players can then graduate to the more advanced original game of Swish.

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

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2013 Award
Laser Maze
(ThinkFun $29.99 Score:)

From the folks that brought us Rush Hour, here's a new brainteaser for the 21st century. The idea is to bounce the laser off the mirrors on the other game pieces to hit the end piece. As with their other games, the challenges (there are 60) get progressively more difficult. Our testers loved the idea of the laser game piece. Laser Maze requires problem-solving skills and the ability to think several steps ahead. Very cool.

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

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