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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2010 Awards
Lauri Puzzles
(Lauri $7.99 Score:)

Lauri’s puzzles come with rubber pieces and a pattern printed in the container/tray for beginners to follow. For building confidence, these are the perfect place to start.  They do make puzzle boards with whole pieces, such as tools and vehicles. These are ideal for beginners.

The five piece puzzles are a perfect place to start with 2 year olds. The puzzles are marked 18 months and up- but we'd say for most kids, this is rushing it.  There is also a Dog and puppy 5 piece puzzle that's a bit harder.

As with all puzzles-- it's really important to start with sets that your child can do with a minimum amount of frustration. The idea is to build their sense of confidence- save more complicated puzzles for later on.

Our 4-5 year old testers loved the 22-piece Race Car and 3-4's liked the 13-piece T-Rex, a 16-piece Farm Scene,  a wonderful Birthday Cake, and Airplane. This company will provide missing pieces so that your investment is not lost. The textured pieces on their simple one piece puzzles are also good for tracing.

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

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2005 Award
IQ Preschool It Takes All Sorts
(Small World Toys $15 Score:) Each shape has one, two, three, or four holes to fit on the wooden dowels of the puzzle board. For beginners, this is not as simple as it looks. There are two attributes here: shape and number. This calls for dexterity and counting. They say 2, we’d say late 2s and 3s. Also top rated, Make-A-Shape Puzzle Board ($14) introduces fractions with a circle cut in thirds, a square in quarters, a triangle in halves, and a whole rectangle. Obviously, using these terms with sandwiches, fruit, and other everyday objects will teach the same concepts. 2 1/2 & up. (800) 421-4153.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2006 Award
Alphabet Boat Puzzle
(Infantino $12.99 Score:) Each boat being pulled by the Coast Guard boat has a letter in upper- and lowercase painted on the side and an object that starts with the sound of the letter. This 27-piece floor puzzle is more than five feet long when put together. The illustrations are clear and for the most part, familiar items that children can identify and associate with the objects initial sounds. Adding to the fun, there are holographic inserts that give the images a little motion. This is not as big and zippy as the old Frank Shaffer Alphabet Train puzzle. That said, kids who are working on letter sequence and letter sounds will probably like this fleet of boats. Also new, I Spy My House Puzzle ($12.99) with objects in the frame to "spy" in the puzzle, and Town Heroes Puzzle ($12.99). New for 2006, When I Grow Up ALphabet Puzzle with an interesting circular shape featuring such up to date jobs as Yoga Teacher. (800) 840-4916

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2005 Award
Crocodile Dentist
(Milton Bradley $15.99 Score:) An updated classic, now comes with smoother teeth. Players take turns playing dentist by pushing down on his teeth, but beware—you never know when he’ll decide to chomp down his jaw! If he does, you’re out! Appeals to kids who like the safe scare; others may find it too much like a jack-in-the-box. 4 & up. (888) 836-7025.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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Kid K'nex
(KNEX $14.95 Score:) Our testers wanted to try these up-sized K’nex that look related to Tinkertoys. There are Stretchin’ Monsters, Footed Friends, Lid Kids, and the big Rovin’ Rollers with wheels for building moving vehicles. Our three-year-old testers found them too complicated, but our four-year-old testers loved them. Fitting the pieces together can be challenging and requires finger strength as well as visual discrimination. 4 & up. (800) 543-5639.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: .

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2005 Award
Space Heroes, Safety Squad & Pirate Adventures Action Figures
(Odyssey Toys $17.95 Score:) Sets of three highly detailed action figures with tiny props. These are harder to stand and balance, but they will appeal to block builders as props for dramatic play. (866) 869-7639.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Collapsing Bridge
(Brio $20 Score:) Oh, no! The bridge has given way! Most likely your kids already play this game but now, with a press of a button, the bridge really does collapse. Great for suspenseful train rides. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Thomas & Friend Sodor Scrub & Shine
(RC2/Learning Curve $46.99 Score:) Vehicles trigger the sounds, lights, and action of this wash for vehicles. Also fun, a small Toll Booth Bridge $26.99 with push button that lowers toll arm. Add multi-level track for over and under track bed action. Also outstanding, Waterfall Tunnel ($27.99) with knob on top that makes water appear to "flow"; and a Deluxe Roundhouse with sounds ($120). You may also want to add the new Sodor Blocks ($50), a set of 49 wooden blocks with a stone façade for making bridges and tunnels. (800) 704-8697.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Thomas & Friends Water Tower Figure 8 Set
(RC2/Learning Curve $39.99 Score:) This 25-piece set is a great buy and gives beginners a great place to start. Includes Thomas, a cargo car, water tower, and stone bridge for a figure 8. For a larger set, consider Down by the Docks ($149.99/45 pieces ) with Sodor Bay Bridge, Lighthouse, and Crane. PLATINUM AWARD ’03. (800) 704-8697.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Remote Control Sky Train and Sky Train Transporter
(Brio $15 Score:) 24-piece set comes with two trains that run on elevated track with gondola-like wagons suspended beneath. PLATINUM AWARD ’04. New for 2005, a Remote Control Sky Train ($15) and a deluxe Sky Train Transporter Set ($300 ) with 100 pieces packed in a green storage box. Shouldn’t replace a basic set, but the movement and height will impress train aficionados big time. 3 & up. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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