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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Age: Preschoolers
Review Year: 2012

 

 
2012 Awards
eeBoo About Face
(eeBoo $15 Score:)

Assemble the strips to create an endless cast of zany faces. Created by artist Saxton Freeman uses his photos of found objects to create images that can represent eyes, noses, mouths and other features from leaves, ribbons, coins and such. There is no right or wrong. Good fun. 4 & up.

SNAP: A good talking game with objects to know and name and extend vocabulary. Use this game for solo play or taking turns adding the top, middle and bottom of faces.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Faber-Castell Black Paper Sketch Pad
(Creativity for Kids $4.99 Score:)

A pad of 40 sheets of black paper that is thinner than construction paper and designed for metallic pencil and gel sticks. It would probably work well with glittery glue sticks ot colored chalks. A good choice for making Halloween decorations, too.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
Poppin Play Piano
(LeapFrog $24.99 Score:)

Toddlers will like the action of hitting the keys and making the color balls jump. But this poppin' piano goes way beyond that simple play mode. It is an electronic toy and has a load of built-in bells and whistles. As electronic toy pianos go, this one has pretty good sound. It plays a variety of instruments --piano, organ, harpsichord, synthesizer, and something called popping sounds. But you cannot go from one instrument to another without going to another activity and returning to the "choose an instrument" mode and then striking a different note on the keyboard. In other words, there is nothing easy about the choices. There are several modes, most well beyond the 12-36 month age group on the package. Mode one is a number drill with the audio telling children to hit the numerals on the big colorful keys. Mode two tells children the color of the key they are striking and makes a ball jump up. Another skill set that does not match the age group. There is another mode that plays premade music and kids can hit whatever notes they choose while the song is playing. Kids need to be in the instrument section to have free playtime. It has loud and soft volume settings.

SNAP: This child friendly keyboard will encourage children to use fine motor skills as well as giving them the powerful satisfaction of making music with a swipe of the hand. 

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
K'nex Maxi Building Set
(K'NEX $12 Score:)

This is one of three building sets designed for beginning builders in the Kid K'nex line. Maxi, a yellow racing car has just 18 pieces and assembles pretty easily - with a little adult help, of course. The directions are pretty clear. You could call this Model Building 101. Best of all when the pieces are put together there's a vehicle that can be played with. It even has an extra set of wheels to roll on toy railroad tracks, a probable option for preschoolers. These are not Disney characters from Cars, but will please kids who are seriously into racing car mania. There is also a Tin Top Building set, 16 pieces and blue or the Roary Building Set with a red racer. All three come in canisters with a model on top and the canister will be fun in the tub for sprinkling since it has holes in the bottom for safety. Though kids may like to build and rebuild, be forewarned, getting the pieces back into the cannister is not easy. It is marked 3 & up, though we think threes are going to need a lot of help with this. This will make a good birthday party gift for fours and fives, especially if you are doing a lot of party going and need multiple gifts.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
eeBoo Carnival Glitter Glue
(eeBoo $5 Score:)

Who can resist the thrill of a fresh pack of glitter glue? Use them for drawing, decorating cards or packages, add it to gift tags. eeBoo has several mixed sets with narrow tips that allow you to draw with some accuracy. Each set comes with four glue sticks of related hues.  They do look a bit like candy sticks and choosing the colors you may be hard to do...they all look so tempting to kids who like crafts.

SNAP: An appealing way to get kids to develop hand strength. Cover up the work space, cover up the cloths and let the fun begin. Allow kids to explore in an open-ended way for starters. Then, print your child's name on a big piece of paper and have her trace the lines to make a name sign.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Mudpuppy Cardboard Finger Puppets
(Mudpuppy Press $6 Score:)

Unlike the small fabric variety, these two-sided cardboard finger puppets use you child's fingers to do the walking. Slip two fingers into the puppet and your ready for action. Puppets are great for language and story telling development. Before kids read stories they really grow from making up their own stories or retelling familiar stories. These are inexpensive, but appealing tools for that kind of creative play. Each set has five puppets: Forest Animals, Pirates, Princesses, or Ballerinas.

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

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2012 Award
Hape Zoo Animals Block Puzzle
(HaPe $14.95 Score:)

Turn the nine painted wooden blocks to form an image of the lion, monkey, zebra, elephant alligator or giraffe. These are painted with some overlapping colors, so it is less simple than many other block puzzles. The pieces are smooth and the graphics are more storybookish than realistic. It is marked for 24 months and up. We think young twos will have difficulty putting these parts into a whole. It is a better choice for 3 and 4 year olds who will need help for starters.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Parents Bug Bungalow and Magnifier Set
(Manhattan Toy $32 Score:)

A nicely crafted bug-house with wooden sides and net roof. The see-through door slides easily and allows bug hunters to look inside with their wooden handled magnifier. A sturdy science toy for young nature explorers. 3 & up.

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

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2012 Awards
Hape Farm Animals Mix and Match
(HaPe $20 Score:)

A 28-piece set of picture dominoes with colorful graphics painted on the wooden playing pieces. Turn them over and have a game of traditional dominoes with dots. This is a good game for pre-readers learning to match images before they begin matching letters. Or, for early counting skills, dominoes helps children begin to sight read sets of two, three, or more and match them. 3 & up.

SNAP: A perfect choice for knowing and naming animals as well as beginning matching skills and counting.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Imaginetics Flying High
(International Playthings $11 Score:)

Perfect for your next flight or a pretend trip. This magnetic play setting board opens like a big picture book. It features an air field with hanger, control tower and all kinds of airplanes. With 18 magnetic pieces, this is the kind of setting that is fun to use for telling their own stories.

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

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