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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Preschoolers
Review Year: 2013

 

 
2013 Awards
North American Bear, Dolly Pockets Red Riding Hood
(North American Bear Co. $24.99 Score:)

A 14-inch rag doll that comes with three finger puppets (Granny, the big bad wolf and the woodsman) Little Red is ready to act out her story or play an all new one. Her red cape and polka-dotted dress are on to stay and her fabric hairs is permanently in place, too. A good choice for preschoolers to engourage retelling familiar stories. Also see Dolly Pockets Cinderella and Goldilocks and the three Bears. 3 & up.

SNAP: Telling stories without a book in hand, can bring a story to life and encourage children to participate in the telling. This kind of doll with finger puppets is a great prop for doing that kind of story telling and maybe even getting little listeners to turn into little story tellers. Before a repetative line...pause and say and 'what did the big bad wolf say then?'

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

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2013 Awards
North American Bear Girls on the Move Gymnast
(North American Bear Co. $12 Score:)

Girls will love putting this little 7-inch velour doll through her paces. Designed with pockets for two fingers, this puppet can twist and twirl and do a split. Her hair and clothes are not removable, but her movements are only limited by the imagination. Available in tan or pinkish skin tone.

SNAP: Getting their fingers to do the walking for this little puppet, may be good fun as well as a way to strengthen fingers and hands. This may be a good prop for physical therapists.

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

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2013 Awards
Crayola Super Tips Washable Markers
(Crayola $12.99 Score:)

A super duper super tips marker set! 25 markers come in a see-through carrying case plus 40 pieces of paper for experimenting on. Their versatile tips draw thin and thick lines depending on how you hold them. 4 & up.

SNAP: Colorful materials that encourage kids to use their fine motor skills. These are not very wide, so you may want to add pencil grippers to give kids a firmer place to hold on. They may like the "magic" of the thin and broad lines they get from changing the position of the marker. These and some of the magic markers that change colors can go a log way in making practicing more like fun.

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

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2013 Award
Playskool Show Cam
(Playskool $59.99 Score:)

We've had digital cameras for kids on our list before, but none quite like this 2-in-1 digital camera that instantly, with a flip of a switch, becomes a projector! So kids can see the results of their picture-taking on any wall. Big buttons and handgrips are designed for little hands and it has a good size screen for viewing. Kids will like the 50 silly effects that can be added to photos without any special software. The Show Cam stores up to 1000 photos and images can be downloaded to your computer, printed and sent by email with a USB cable(not included.) They say 3-7. We think 3 and 4 year olds may find it a bit bulky and will need time to know what buttons to push for the various actions. That said, it is a lot less delicate and costly than handing them the camera on your smart phone. Our test family say that the six-year old is able to use most of the functions of the camera while their three-year old needs more assitance. They also think that the bulkiness of the camera is no problem and that the big buttons are a plus for little hands. Available in white or grey as shown.

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

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2013 Award
Automoblox X9 Fire SUV
(Automoblox $45 Score:)

Much bigger than the original Automoblox, this has an extended center block, snazzy big wheels with red treds, and has bold rescue graphics. The roof holds a light bar that appears to be illuminated. Take it apart and rebuild it, this is part puzzle/construction toy, part vehicle for pretend play. The wooden parts are smooth and beautifully finished and the wheels have rubbery treads. Combine parts with other automoblox for creative designers. 3 & up

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Automoblox T900 Rescue Truck
(Automoblox $50 Score:)

Much bigger than the original Automoblox, this has an extended center block and bold graphics. The roof holds a light bar that appears to be illuminated. Take it apart and rebuild it, this is part puzzle/construction toy, part vehicle for pretend play. The wooden parts are smooth and beautifully finished and the wheels have rubbery treads. Combine parts with other automoblox for creative designers. 3 & up

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Automoblox S9 Police Car
(Automoblox $45 Score:)

Much bigger than the original Automoblox, this one has an extended center block and has bold police graphics. The roof holds a light bar that appears to be illuminated. Take it apart and rebuild it, this is part puzzle/construction toy, part vehicle for pretend play. The wooden parts are smooth and beautifully finished and the wheels have rubbery treads. Combine parts with other automoblox for creative designers. 3 & up

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Barbie Mars Explorer, Career of the Year 2013
(Mattel $12.99 Score:)

"She's out of this world!" That's what our tester said about the striking new Mars Explorer Barbie. Created in collaboration with NASA, she comes dressed in a sleek white space suit with hot pink bands. Her pink helmet is removable, as are her space boots and oxygen tank. As you would expect, Barbie is bringing her signature pink to the red planet. Winner of the Career of the Year, 2013, Barbie is once again showing girls that they can reach for the stars with jobs that involve science and exploration. Barbie Mars Explorer is available both as African American or Caucasian versions and commemorates the First anniversary of NASA's Curiosity Rover landing on Mars. We like the science factoids on the box and the image of the Curiosity Rover behind Barbie.

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

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2013 Award
First Bike
(FirstBike $159 Score:)

There are several models of this training bike. If they are going to ride in urban areas with concrete, stone or packed dirt you want the "street" model with air tires. For mostly grass, gravel amd loose dirt you'll want the "Cross" model. Both come in a variety of colors and with air tires and a hand brake. Our tester family loved how easily their four-year old twins learned to balance on this. The only problem they had was in sharing one bike without fighting over turns. Their review indicates that they wish their five-year old daughter had learned on a balance bike rather than with training wheels. In fact, they plan to ditch the traditional bike and start over with a balance bike for her. They found it easy to assemble, light weight and ideal for gliding and gaining confidence. In their mom's words: "Such a smarter concept which teaches the kids to ride so much more quickly."

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Playmobil City Action Cargo & Passenger Aircraft & Tower
(Playmobil $109 Score:)

Wait till they see this enormous jetliner and control tower! Once assembled this becomes a setting for dramatic play. The cargo jetliner has a lift-up nose allowing kids to see the controls and the pilot and copilot. It has a removable roof to put mini-figures in the five seats. No detail left to chance, the cabin has an on-board toilet! You may want to add extra characters since it comes with just five mini-figures. Our builder had some trouble fitting the windows into place and getting one of the doors to stay put and he was way over the 4-10 age on the box. This is not a set younger kids of 4-7 can build on their own. It is a parent child project that takes time and patience. But by all means, involve your beginner in the process of finding the pieces and even snapping some of them in place. Young chidren like to feel they are helping with the building, so announce things for them to give you as you work on the big pieces. It is a fine way to show them how working step by step and following directions works to create a finished end product to enjoy. Older Playmobil builders with have no trouble getting this setting ready for playing and displaying. 134 pieces 4-10

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

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