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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Games

 

 
2014 Awards
Crazy Pants
(Chatterbox Toys $20 Score:)

You'll like the quality of the art and feel of this sturdy board game that can be played in multiple ways—all of which challenge kids to use their listening and looking skills while also learning the rules of turn taking and the ups and downs gamesmanship. There are enough rounds so that kids can experience the fun of winning and inevitable alternative. There's no reading required but the games do play on matching, memory, color concepts, and listening. Cards can be used for Bingo style game, concentration, and sequencing. Develops a child's ability to see and hear differences as she finds not just a green dress, but a green dress with the purple bow. That kind of detail calls for more than chance, but is an important skill needed before reading. A good choice for 3-5.

Use this for language development as well as matching skills. A rich variety of games that can be adapted to your child.

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

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2014 Award
Diggity Dogs Game
(Educational Insights $14.95 Score:)

For five-year old dog lovers, Diggity Dogs is an ideal way to sharpen visual and social skills. Players each get a dog card at the start of the game that indicates three things this dog needs. Each player then takes two "go fish" style cards that show objects the various dogs need, such as a bone, ball, bed, a dish, etc. Players take turns collecting cards from the slush pile or barking and asking one of the other players if he has a needed card. When a player get all three objects pictured on her dog card she gets to adopt the dog and collect another dog. The player with the most dogs at the end of the game is the winner. A fun matching game for 2-4 players. For cat lovers, take a look at Kitten Caboodle, same idea but with kittens.

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

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2014 Award
Pancake Pile-Up!
(Educational Insights $17.99 Score:)

An active fun game that's a lot like an egg race only this one is played with pancakes--made of plastic. Here's how it works. Players pull a card that shows a stack of pancakes with strawberries, blueberries, banana slices and chocolate chips. Players have to race to stack and serve a pile of pancakes that matches the order card. Teams or two players compete to carry the pancakes on the spatulas and be the first to make a stack topped with a pat of butter. This is an active game that can be played like a relay race with teams or a two-player match. Challenges visual matching, dexterity, and speed. A good party game. They say 4 & up, we think older 5-8's will like it best.

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

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2014 Award
Crash
(International Playthings $19.99 Score:)

If you like Jenga-styled games, this is a fun variation. At first we could not imagine that it would work. The idea is that you set up four stories of towers (each has ten columns holding up the ring). Each player takes a turn pulling out columns and then adding that column above. While we had our doubts, it turns out that we could add all the other levels.  Great fun--but we believe this is a much better game for the 8 & up crowd, not the marked 4 & up.  The tension, not to mention the fine motor skills required to play this game  will be too much for many kids (and certainly most 4 year olds).

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

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2014 Awards
Dream Cakes
(Ravensburger $16.99 Score:)

Dream Cakes is great fun to play. The idea is to create the "biggest" cake by adding to the cake plate with tiers, frosting, and toppings.  There are LOTS of pieces to this game designed for 2 to 4 players. On your turn, spin the wheel to determine which kind of cake piece you get to add to your cake. The added fun comes with the cake measuring stick. Depending on how tall your cake is you get ribbons with point values. The player with the highest points (when there are no more pieces to play) wins! The pieces are sturdy and have a lovely storybook quality to the illustrations.

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

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2014 Award
Gamewright Dodge Dice
(Gamewright $12 Score:)

Unlike many dice games, the goal in Dodge Dice is to avoid points. The game comes with 10 dice. One is the "penalty" points die that tells you how many points you'll get if the round doesn't go your way. There is also an action die that makes things happen like all your points are doubled or tripled (not good!) or you can pass all the points to another player (mean but good!).  There are also skip chips that allow you to avoid the penalty points. Marked for 8 & up and designed for 2-6 players. Rounds will be fast. Our testers thought this was a fun twist on traditional dice games.

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
Gamewright Sushi Go!
(Gamewright $12 Score:)

We're not going to lie. We got hungry for sushi while playing this fun card game. For a generation of kids that are familiar with sushi, this will be a hit. The goal is to get the highest scoring collection of sushi. For example if you add wasabi to your nigiri - you'll get triple points. Each player gets a certain number of cards to begin (depending on how many are playing). From that hand you keep one card, place it face down. Now here's the fun part-- you pass your hand to the next player.  This keeps going until all cards are played.

There is some strategy involved in what cards you collect. For example if you have the most number of puddings, you get six points -- but if you don't the have most - you have to subtract six points from your total score.

The instructions take some time (and a grown up) to figure out but then it starts moving quickly.  Marked for 8 & up and rounds take about 15 minutes to play for 2 to 5 players.

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

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2014 Award
Janod Who Am I? Game
(Janod $19.99 Score:)

Who Am I is a two player attribute game that is something like the classic game of Battleship for younger players. Each player picks one animal face that the other player cannot see. Players take turns asking questions about their opponent’s animal. Does your animal have glasses? If the answer is no the questioner crosses out all the animals with glasses. A marker is provided with a sponge eraser that removes the markings at the end of each round. By a process of elimination players deduce what animal their opponent has selected. This is a game that requires players to look at details and listen to clues. The game board reverses to reveal a whole other set of creatures. We have had other similar games, this one is slightly more complex and beautifully executed.  They say 4-7, we think fours can play this with a partner but not solo. That said this is an excellent choice for beginning readers who need to learn about looking closely at details. Instead of looking for the fine difference between bed and bad, here the game is played with pictorial details that are less abstract for beginners.

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

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2014 Awards
Peaceable Kingdom Sunny Day Pond
(Peaceable Kingdom $15.99 Score:)

A ducky cooperative game that develops color matching, puzzle building, and fine motor skills. The big playing board has the images of three different four-piece puzzles. Players use the spinner on their turn that tells them what color puzzle piece they can take and match on the playing board. If you spin a rain-drop you must put one under the cloud. The object is for everyone to cooperatively finish the puzzles before there are no rain-drops left. So you are all playing against the game and the rain. Good fun, as well as helping beginners use their fine motor skill by learning how to rotate jigsaw puzzle pieces and fit them together. 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
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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