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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2006 Awards
WonderFoam Dominoes
(Chenille Kraft Co. $15.95 Score:) These oversized foam dominoes with traditional dots were a favorite of our testers. Our tester said: the “chunky play pieces were easy to pick up” and it “was a game he came back to again and again.” (800) 621-1261. Also top rated, Color or Candy Dominoes (eeBoo $12.95 each ) This handsomely designed sturdy cardboard set of dominoes focuses on colors and matching shapes (stars, moon, train, heart, blueberries) rather than traditional numbers or dots. Our twin three-year-old toy testers enjoyed making up their “own game.” 3 & up. (212) 222-0823.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Spinnerific Bye-Bye Balloons & Animal Pairs Games
(International Playthings $7.99 Score:) Here is a new spin on concentration. Quick and easy to learn, each game comes with a deck of cards and a domed spinner. Push the dome and it tells what color balloon you must find. In Animal Pairs the spinner will tell you to turn 2, 3, or 4 cards over and find matching animals. Our four-year-old tester loved beating us every time, and wanted to play again and again . . . the best sign of success. 3–5. (800) 445-8347.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Zimbbos!
(Blue Orange Games $19.95 Score:) Roll the die and stack the number of elephants shown. Can you do it without having the pyramid fall? Oh, yes, if you roll a star you have to add a clown or a balance beam—not exactly easy. A fun way to work on simple counting skills and dexterity. Takes 5–10 minutes to play a round and plenty of chances to win and lose. 3–6. (800) 819-6264

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Sleepy Princess and the Pea
(Haba $24 Score:) Kids who know the story of the Princess and the Pea will enjoy taking turns and adding a cushion, pillow, and comforter to the stack before it topples over! Quick to learn and lots of chances to win and lose, this calls for some dexterity. (800) 468-6873.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Frog Hoppers
(International Playthings $5.95 Score:) We’ve seen a number of tiddlywink-style games this season (see Early School Years, p. 132.) This one is easy enough for beginners to play. Four sets of colored frogs are ready to hop back into the container as players spar off. No heavy rules to learn. A good game for learning about turn taking; requires some eye-hand coordination. They say 3 & up—we’d say more like 4–6. (800) 445-8347.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Dora the Explorer Candy Land
(Milton Bradley $4.5 Score:) Fans of Dora will enjoy this variation of the classic color matching game that incorporates Dora and her friends. Still top rated, Duck Duck Goose ($19.99 ) a fun, easy-to-learn color concept game. PLATINUM AWARD ’05. (888) 836-7025.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Egg and Spoon Race
(International Playthings $14.99 Score:)

Four big plastic spoons are loaded with bright eggs to balance as kids race for the finish line. But watch out - if you drop the egg, it cracks and a yoke falls out! A classic game with fabric yokes that are less messy, and no risk of salmonella! They say 3 & up, we'd say more like old 4s and 5-6s. Great for a party! 

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2006 Awards
Magneatos
(Guidecraft $30 Score:)

One of our favorite open-ended construction sets. These primary colored plastic rods and balls are oversized, safe and easy to manipulate for preschoolers. Exactly right for small hands and big results! Comes in 36 pieces ($30), 72 ($50) or 144 pieces ($100). 2.5 & up. (800) 524-3555

SNAP AWARD: Children with special needs like to have toys that are like their peers and siblings. Magneatos are similar to popular magnetic rod and ball construction sets, but the upsized pieces are easier to grasp than the usual tiny scaled pieces-thus encouraging children with less dexterity an opportunity to develop their eye hand coordination with less frustration. Smaller size rods and ball sets may also be a choking hazard for kids who still mouth their toys-while these chunky pieces have no small parts-since the magnets are encased in plastic. The larger pieces also create a showier construction and their bright primary colored forms have great eye appeal. Unlike so many building sets, Magneatos provide for open-ended exploration rather than demanding a right or wrong way of building. In many ways they suit both the needs of preschoolers as well as older children with physical challenges.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2006 Award
Kid K'nex Crimpy Critters
(KNEX $9.99 Score:) These up-sized K’nex look related to your old Tinkertoys—our testers especially like the “crimpy pieces.” Testers liked the larger Wild Ones kit ($14.95 ). We’d pass on the new Story Book Pals ($7.99 ) with cheesy (very merchandisy) books (e.g., featuring Chicken Little made out of K’nex). Fitting the pieces together can be challenging and requires finger strength as well as visual discrimination. Marked 3 & up, but we’d say more like 4 & up. (800) 543-5639.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Woody Click Vehicles
(HaPe $4.99 Score:) Part construction, part pretend, the Woody Click line has many wooden vehicles, sold individually or as part of sets. They are ideally scaled for unit blocks, but will require adult assistance to assemble. Choose from colorful construction vehicles, fire trucks, and a helicopter with small flexible play figures. There are several pricey but handome mini-settings ($99 each) such as a hospital, fire station, and police headquarters. (800) 661-4142.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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