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Product Type: Toys

 


2005 Award
2 in 1 Hitting Trainer Hit-a-Way Jr.
(Coop Kids $29.99 Score:) Our baseball players-in-training can work on their swing with the well-designed low-tech hitting machine. The ball is tethered so that you don’t have to run after every hit. Be sure to load the base with water for added stability. (760) 931-5733. For a T-ball that also converts into a battery-operated hitting machine, our testers gave high marks to the new Triple Hit Baseball (Fisher-Price $25). (800) 432-5437.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Hook, Line & Sprinkler
(Little Tikes $13 Score:) Nemo-esque fish spin around a little starfish. Can be used in a stationary position for younger children. Turn the starfish, and now the sprinkler will spin and shoot water in different directions. Also new but disappointing, the Ultimate Beach Ball Sprinkler ($13 ). Once you hook the ball up to the hose, you can’t really kick it around. Testers gave this a thumbs down. (800) 321-0183.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Naturally Playful Sand & Water Table
(Step 2 $70 Score:) This oversized table is half for sand and half for water, with waterways for boats to travel. A terrific patio toy for stand-up digging and splashing. Comes with several boats, tools, and an umbrella for shade. As with all water toys, adult supervision is a must. 2 1/2 & up. (800) 347-8372.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Musical Friends and Fairies of the Field
(eeBoo $14 Score:) Musical Friends and Fairies of the Field are beautifully illustrated sturdy cards that kids will love to work on. Marked 3 & up, but will be most enjoyed by 4s. (212) 222-0823. Lacing & Tracing Tools (Lauri $6.99 ) is made of sturdy chipboard punched with holes that kids "sew" with colorful laces. Also recommended, Lace & Link Numbers ($14.99), crepe 4" rubber numerals that reinforce shapes in a tactile way. 4 & up. (800) 451-0520.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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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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