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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2014 Awards
The Big Creativity Can
(Creativity for Kids $19.99 Score:)

We love this open-ended cardboard box with and amazing assortment of art materials that will invite all kinds of imaginative explorations! There are feathers, pompoms, bells, chenille sticks, pop sticks, holographic stickers, packs of clay, wiggly eyes, felt, mesh tubing, corrugated paper, sticky foams squares, patterned papers, scissors, foam shapes, satin cord--and NO INSTRUCTIONS! That is right. They are left out on purpose. It's all in the hands and eyes of the creative thinker. A great family gift that many children can share with more than 100 pieces. 4 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Rich Frogs Lucky Ducky
(RIch Frog $13.99 Score:)

Just 6.5 inches tall, this easy to grab plush ducky has a gentle jingle rattle sound inside and some small ribbons on top to finger. The yellow plush is accented with a bright orange beak and feet plus colorful blue and green wings. If you prefer, the Ducky also comes in pale green. A good lap toy that baby will soon be able to take in her own hands. Newborns & up

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Airhogs HyperActives5
(SpinMaster $45 Score:)

A 5-wheeled RC stunt vehicle that is zippy thanks to the fifth wheel that helps deliver high speed. Kids can jump it, roll it, flip it and even drive it upside down. It has shock compression tires that can run on any kind of surface. You'll need 6 AAA and one 1.5V. 8-13

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
LEGO DUPLO School Bus
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

With just 26-pieces kids can build and rebuild this chunky school bus and play pretend games with it. The set comes with a driver and two students and a lot of ways to build settings. Best of all, kids can load and unload passengers and driver and make up their own stories as they play with the vehicle they build. 2-5

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

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2014 Award
Thomas & Friends Track Master, Avalanche Escape Set
(Fisher-Price $65 Score:)

Getting this 6-foot long roadway built is going to be an adult project that kids can help you do. Once the set-up is made, Thomas is in for quite a ride over the mountaintop track. As he climbs the steep incline he literally has to fly across the huge gap in the tracks. As he zooms down the mountain he goes over a rickety ridge that has collapsing guardrails and then into a cave. This set comes with track adaptors so that more track can be added to make this a part of a larger set-up. As a stand alone, it is a pretty closed system that does the same trick again and again. Yes, it is novel and a wow-ee kind of show the first few times. We think it may lose some appeal after the tricks become old hat. We strongly suggest additional tracks to make this a more viable play experience. For more Thomas & Friends tracks and accessories that we have written about in the past and more elaborate sets you might want to visit the thomaswoodenrailway.com site.  3-6

 

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

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2014 Award
Colossal Art Set
(Alex $47.95 Score:)

Talk about big presents--this takes the prize for the young artist in the family. Perhaps it is more like a gift for the whole family to share and enjoy for all kinds of creative projects. This gigantic 315-piece set includes 40 crayons, 20 pastels, 48 fine markers, 36 watercolor cakes, 36 jumbo markers, 24 colored pencils, 24 watercolor pencils, drawing pencils, erasers, 4 sharpeners, 18 paint brushes, stickers, paper, and pallets. All these tools for creativity are housed in a gigantic fitted box. There is also an amazing Portable Art Set with150 pieces in a large storage case($19.99) that will make a satisfying gift to be used for a long while.

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

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2014 Award
LEGO Juniors Pony Farm
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

A hot pink trunk comes filled with pre-packed bags that contain all the pieces that go along with the easy to follow pictorial directions. All of this provides the support young builders need for getting started with important construction play. Designed to attract young girls and develop their comfort level with spatial thinking skills that formerly were considered a boys-only area. This 308-piece set can be used in open-ended ways or to follow the directions to build a Pony Farm that can be used for dramatic play. We know there are some who find the pink containers and their themes too gender specific, but in fact, if that brings girls to the construction toy aisle we say go for it! That's the way to help them develop dexterity, patience, STEM skills and imagination.4-7

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

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2014 Award
Ravensburger Disney Planes Puzzles
(Ravensburger $14.99 Score:)

Kids can put together images of four different planes with these four shaped puzzles. They range from simple 10-pieces to a 16-piece one. Introduce them one puzzle at a time so all the pieces do not get mixed together. These are real jigsaw puzzle pieces that call for more dexterity and visual discrimination than typical preschool puzzles, though the pieces are larger than they are pictured on the box graphic. That said, this is a challenging set. You'll want to show them how to sort the colors into four different piles and then work on one puzzle at a time when they first start. Like all puzzles for younger kids, this will be probably be put together a number of times, since kids like to redo their puzzles, getting confidence as they do them with greater ease and mastery. This set comes in a sturdy storage box for safe keeping between uses. Marked for 3 & up, we think this may be a better choice for experienced puzzle builders of four and five.

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

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2014 Award
Seedling Let's Rock Kit
(Seedling $29.99 Score:)

Our in-house tester has loved geodes for ages and this kit was an absolute hit. It comes with secure safety glasses, four good sized geode rocks and a magnifying glass for examining the crystals inside the geodes.
It does not include a hammer and you will absolutely need one. They also suggest doing this with an adult and out of doors. They did not mention putting the rock inside a towel or cloth to catch the possible debris. Our tester's grandfather, the original rock hound of the family, always did this to be on the safe side. This is a kit that will not take long to do, but the pieces will be enjoyed for a long time and those crystals may spark an interest in a long-term hobby. We suggest this is a good choice for 8 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Wonder Forge Dr. Seuss Charades
(Wonder Forge $10 Score:)

Charades for the preschool set. Players select the Dr. Seuss Character they want to be. One player draws a card and picks one of three actions to act out. Other players guess what the action is. The player who guesses first and the actor-outer both get to move on the playing board. First to cross the finish line wins. There is no reading in this game so it is designed for preschoolers. However the playing board has some twists along the way that can send players backwards (like Candlyland) and may be upsetting to younger players. They say 3 and up, we think doing charades may be tough for most threes and some fours. You may want to save this for older 4-5 year olds.

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

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