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Product Type: Toys
Award: SNAP
Age: Toddlers
Review Year: 2013

 

 
2013 Awards
ELC Singing Animal Keyboard
(International Playthings $34.99 Score:)

We like the new look to a classic first keyboard that helps tots learn about cause and effect. The big keys work one at a time to activate the animals that open their mouths and make sounds. The sound is not over-the-top loud. It has three play modes: animal sounds, animals singing, and animals singing along to a tune. The music is just so-so, but the action will please tots who love the sense power and repetition of making things happen. A good first birthday gift. 12 months & up.

SNAP: Unlike a lot of toys where so many things happen, this works in a very one to one cause and effect way.

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

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2013 Awards
Quercetti Daisy Box Castle
(International Playthings $37 Score:)

For starters tots will love the classic action of filling and dumping all the pieces that come in the Daisy Box Castle. The rounded edges of the container and the blocks make them kid-friendly and easy for little hands to grasp. Once they get the idea, they can make the colorful rounded blocks fit into one another in towers or side-by-side on the white peg-board lid of the red container. The various shapes are designed to be used in an open-ended fashion with no right or wrong ways. A lovely toy for building eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, the language of color concepts and imaginative play.

SNAP: Give kids plenty of time to explore the various pieces of this building set. After plenty of time for free play, use the pieces to sort by color or size. Use them for reinforcing simple counting and even to make patterns. This does not have a babyish look yet the size of the playing pieces will make it easier for many children to manipulate.

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

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2013 Awards
Janod Barnyard Dominoes
(Janod $24.99 Score:)

Cows, ducks, hens, tractors and farmer's hat and boots are easy to match on these wooden dominos. Turn them over and play a traditional match the dots domino game. Finished in smooth natural wood these are basic gear that will be used for naming and knowing as well as for matching, stacking, or collapsing games. 28 pieces. 

SNAP: Introduce the playing pieces by finding all the cows as a first game, finding all the sheep as another game...etc. Playing a traditional game of dominoes can wait. Knowing and naming and matching builds the readiness for the old-fashioined game. These are nice for stacking and lining up, too.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Awards
Step Two Easy Turn Coupe
(Step 2 $59.99 Score:)

Our testers spent several happy afternoons driving around in this new kiddie car that runs on foot power. It has a front castor wheel for added maneuver-ability. With a working horn and ignition key there are miles of pretend fun with the Easy Turn Coupe. As an added bonus, it can be used with younger riders that an adult can push along, however, there is no safety belt. There's a removable floorboard to protect little feet when they are being pushed. Also nice, this has a front trunk storage area and cup holders for both child and adult. 1 & up.

 

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

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2013 Awards
Mega Bloks Fairy Tale Castle
(Mega Bloks $99 Score:)

A wow-ee of a gift with hours of open-ended play possibilities. A 44-pieces building set with oversized pink and white plastic bocks, a working gate, and fabric trim that can become play settings big enough to inhabit. The big blocks are easy to clean and will be used in ever-more complex ways as children's pretend play changes. Be forewarned, it takes up a fair amount of space so may not be ideal in a small apartment; the door does fall off easily and the stickers do not stick. That said, our testing family feels the positives outweighed the negatives and this is a toy with miles of good play. Also available in a less gender specific red, white and blue version. They are marked 1-5. We think 2's and up will be more on target.

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

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2013 Awards
Mega Bloks Knight's Castle
(Mega Bloks $99 Score:)

A wow-ee of a gift with hours of open-ended play possibilities. A 44-pieces building set with oversized red, white and blue plastic bocks, a working gate, and fabric trim that can become play settings big enough to inhabit. The big blocks are easy to clean and will be used in ever-more complex ways as children's pretend play changes. Be forewarned, it takes up a fair amount of space so may not be ideal in a small apartment; the door does fall off easily and the stickers do not stick. That said, one of our testing families felt the positives outweighed the negatives and this is a toy with miles of good play. One of our other testing families with a tall 5 year old found putting the structure together was fun (and enjoyed the stickers), but ultimately found the structure too small for him to play in. Also available in a pink and white Princess version. They are marked 1-5. We think 2's-3's and up will be more on target.

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

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2013 Awards
Play-Doh Plus
(Hasbro $8.99 Score:)

Play-doh has been updated to make it softer and smoother than ever. It has an almost silky feel and will stay that way if stored in air-tight containers. This set has eight different vibrant colors that can also be used with special tools that are sold separately. The package indicates that it is non-toxic, but does contain wheat. 2 & up.

SNAP : A classic model material that is even more pliable now. Excellent for developing hand and fingers. Also good for shaping snakes to form letters, giving children a sensory feel of forming letters.

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

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2013 Awards
Hape Galloping Zebra Cart
(Hape $69.99 Score:)

Perfectly balanced for beginning walkers to pull up and walk around with. Toddlers will love making the two black and white zebras go back and forth as they push this smoothly finished cart about. Designed for that still not all-together steady stage when wobbly tots are getting their balance. It allows them to hold on while they take those first independent steps to becoming true walkers. Though this is a short-term use toy, it is one that has a real function and is sturdy enough to pass along to cousins, new siblings, or good friends. 12 months & up.

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

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2013 Awards
eeBoo Animal Face Tot Tower
(eeBoo $20 Score:)

A fresh look to a classic set of nesting and stacking cardboard blocks. With art from illustrator, Stephanie Graegin, there is a lot to look at here and talk about with tots. Each block has a jaunty colorful animal face, a rhyme, a numeral, and objects to count from 1-10. For starters you will do the stacking, but in time toddlers will be doing the action. Use them for where did it go games, put a small toy under one back and mix up a few...where is the hiding toy? There are so many ways to incorporate a classic like this into meaningful interactions that expand your toddler's language and size order concepts. 2 & up.

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

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