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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Art Supplies

 


2011 Award
Faber Castell Young Artists Essentials Gift Set
(Creativity for Kids $49.99 Score:)

An amazing wood case with 64 drawing essentials: 24 colored pencils, 8 water color pencils, 2 graphite pencils, 18 oil pastels, 12 duo-tip markers, pencil sharpeners, 1 paint brush, 25 sheets of art paper, and a booklet. This is a great choice for kids that are a step beyond crayons and ready to explore new media. The gift box will help keep these riches in orderly storage, ready for school projects or artistic explorations. They say 5 -9. We'd say more like 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
eeBoo Little Books
(eeBoo $7 Score:)

Want to encourage kids to write and tell their own stories?  These sets of four little paper books are perfect for inspiring beginners. They come with stickers for the title and author's name, to be added to the cover. Each page has lines on one side and a blank facing sheet, so kids can illustrate their original picture books. Have beginners make a book about their family, a counting or color book or retelling of a familiar story. For the youngest, you might want to have them dictate a small story about a trip to the zoo or the doctor's office and then have them illustrate it. There are various sets of these books with charming printed covers. Inspiring kids to make their own books develops their language,  dexterity, and creative thinking. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011.

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2011 Award
eeBoo Metallic Color Pencils and Sketchbook
(eeBoo $7.99 Score:)

Getting kids to pick up a pencil can be no fun, especially when kids find writing letters challenging. The very kids who need to practice the most are often the most reluctant. Enter a set of six metallic colored pencils ($7.99) that are slightly fatter but shaped with three sides, to make the gripping all the easier. Choose a robot graphic box or one with birds. Best of all there's a gold, silver, aqua, green, bronze and pinkish pencil for making unusual drawings and signs. Sure to please even the most reluctant beginning writers. There are also larger sets of metallic pencils with 24 pencils in a metal container($14.95. ) For inspiration, bring home matching spiral covered sketch books ($6) with Golden Bird or Silver Robot. The paper is smooth and heavy enough for color pencils and even watercolors. 5 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Crayola Story Studio
(Crayola $3.99 & up Score:)

When you say Crayola, most of us conjure up the idea of the yellow and green box, the smell of the crayons, and the possibilities that they present. High tech usually isn't in the picture- until this year.  Crayola Color Studio allows you to take a code off the box (boxes of 48 crayons or more) and use the on-line studio where you can import a picture of your child (or you!) to place as the central character of their own story.  You can print out as many pages as you'd like.  Great fun!

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
The World of Eric Carle Paper Supplies
(Canson $2.50 and up Score:)

Canson has created a wonderful wide range collection of paper supplies meant to inspire young artists and fans of Eric Carle.  This new eco series (90% of the paper is made from recycled materials)  includes little market and sketch pads that are just right for taking out of a backpack while you're traveling.  We especially love the little Sketch and Tell pads ($1.99 each) that have a place for your child's picture as well as a some lined space for them to write (or dictate) to you what they've drawn.  There are also larger scale pads for drawing, painting, markers, tracing and our favorite - a big juicy pad designed for finger painting! Is this clever marketing? Yes.  But at the end of the day, it's lovely paper and may just get your child started on creating their own designs!

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Glow Station Day & Night
(Crayola $29.99 Score:)

This is a bit different from the original Glow Station that had a firm drawing board base. This one has a larger drawing surface, but it's a flexible sheet of plastic with rigid ends. It can be hung on a wall or used on table top or floor. The light wand has a crystal attachment that makes a starburst design when it is pulled over the drawing surface. There are also stencil shapes and textures to rub. You do not need to be in a dark room to see the lines you draw light up. It glows green in a darkened room and purple in a lighted room. Of course, the glow quickly fades. If you are just learning to write letter that is a good thing. Mistakes fade away and you try again. It's one of those novelty toys that can also encourage kids to use their arms and hands to get a feel for making lines and circles and scribbles without the tight pencil and paper tasks of school. We still prefer last year's version with the solid base that could be enjoyed on car trips for doodling. 6 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

SNAP: This is a good choice for children who have difficulty grasping. The wand is chunky and can be held without the fine motor skills needed for pencil and paper tasks. The large surface allows for big motions that give children a sense of how lines are formed, without the frustration of writing in the lines or making permanent marks on paper.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Alex Magnetic Tabletop Easel
(Alex $59.99 Score:)

The latest in Alex's line of tabletop easels. We were a little puzzled by the box.  It is a magnetic easel, but there are no magnetic pieces included even though they are pictured on the box.  Most toy companies have ditched magnetic letters due to all of the problems with magnets. The easel also comes with four paint cups, but no brushes (even though they are also on the box). There's also no eraser for the erase board -- (none is shown on the box). With all of that said--this is well-made wooden easel and a great choice if space is an issue. It does come with paper!!

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Mini Play Scene At the Zoo
(Mudpuppy Press $8 Score:)

Open the little book cover shaped playing board and you’ll find more than 40 stickers with people and animals that would be found at the zoo. Kids can pretend to revisit the zoo or make up their own adventures in the zoo with the reusable vinyl stickers. Small enough to take along on trips or to the doctor’s office where waiting is part of the game. Also, Royal Court ($8) another setting for the same kinds of games. These are an excellent choice for developing dexterity, language and story telling. 3 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Under the Sea Play Scene
(Mudpuppy Press $13 Score:)

Open the play board like a book and you will find 50 vinyl stickers that can be used again and again. This scene includes two divers, seaweed, coral, and tons of colorful fish. You can talk about the colors, stripes, and sizes of the fish to build language or listen to the adventures kids dream up as they arrange the stickers. Also, in the same line, Monster Madness ($13 4) a play scene with some decidedly friendly mild mannered monsters. We usually steer clear of monster stories but this allows kids to take control of the monsters and make up their own adventures…so they are in charge of the fantasy. These are a good take along for travel or waiting games in the doctor’s office. They develop dexterity, imagination and language. 3 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Glodoodle
(Spinmaster $19.99 Score:)

Here's the newest twist on your old Magna Doodle. This see-through drawing board writes in three colors and glows in the dark. Give the magic button a push and the board is clean and ready for the next doodle or spelling word or math fact. This toy works well in the back seat of a car at night or for tic tac toe games. For family fun let one of the kids keep score of your 20 Questions game on the drive to wherever. Earlier models of the toy had some problems with erasing. The newest model fared better with most of our testers with one notable exception.  So we feel somewhat torn about this award--on the one hand, it is a really cool concept, but of course if you get a dud, then it doesn't matter how great the product is supposed to be.   If you have gotten an earlier model or just having a problem with the eraser - return it for a newer model. This takes three AA batteries and has to be turned off manually...no automatic timer, so be forewarned! They say 3 & up. We'd say all ages. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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