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Product Type: Toys

 

 
Awards
Jumbo GRIP Colour Pencils
(Creativity for Kids $10 Score:) 12 color pencils have built-in finger grips. Color and then apply water with brush for watercolor effects. Comes with its own sharpener. (800) 311-8684. SNAP: These are thinner than the Alex colored pencils and lend themselves to older kids who would still benefit from finger grips built-in to the pencils. These are very special since after they draw they can turn lines into paint with a bit of water on a brush.

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

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2003 Award
Ice Cream Science
(Scientific Explorer $20 Score:) We wish all chemistry experiments were this tasty! Kids fill out their own lab sheets as they formulate their own "secret" formula. Comes with different flavorings and can be used with different types of milk. The fun part comes when you put your mixture in a series of plastic bags and then put it in a t-shirt and start shaking! After vigorous shaking for five minutes, you'll have ice cream. The kit is full of interesting information about why this works. We found that you really had to shake hard for five minutes. If the ice cream is too runny, you can put your mixture in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Kit designed in conjunction with the UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science. 9 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Thomas & Friends Quarry Mine Tunnel
(RC2 Learning Curve $24.99 Score:) The trains gain great momentum as they pass through the Quarry Mine Tunnel that has a trap door that the trains emerge from as they exit down the steep ramp of the tunnel. Comes with one piece of ascending train track for getting trains into the tunnel.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Crayola Color Wonder Mazes
(Binney & Smith $7.99 Score:) 30 self-correcting mazes and puzzles that are sure to challenge without frustrating young travelers. Used with special no-mess Color Wonder markers. Some reading required on each page. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
MegaPlayhouse
(Playhut $39.99 Score:) Kids love having their own hide-away for pretend play. This is one big fabric pop-up playhouse with a rollup window and a doorway. Five feet tall and almost as wide, this is a big enough play setting for several kids to enjoy. Best suited for indoor use. A good gust of wind would send it flying! We always have trouble putting Playhut products away in their little cases, but we think it's more our problem than theirs!

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Dread Pirate Game
(Old Century Classics $99.95 Score:) Think of this game as Monopoly for Pirates. The object is to collect all the treasure and make sure that none of your fellow pirates have any left! You win by moving your pirate ship around the play mat and collecting "gems" and "coins" from your opponents. Moving around the play mat and how many treasures you collect is determined by rolling the dice. Be forewarned, this game can take a long time to play and will appeal to older kids (9s & up). As with most of the games made by this company, the playing pieces are handsome (and pricey). The directions for this game are pretty lengthy and will probably need clarification, negotiation and the adoption of "house rules".

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2004 Award
Lil' Creatures Rattles
(Mary Meyer $5 Score:) A delightfully cheery new collection of soft rattles with fabric animals (duck, elephant, turtle, or dino), each attached to a clear easy-to-grasp ring with colorful beads inside. At first you can use these for tracking games, but soon enough your baby will enjoy exploring with two hands. Unlike many rattles, these have a quiet rattle sound that won't startle your baby.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004.

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Discovery Ball
(LeapFrog $19.99 Score:) Our testers did love spinning the ball and hearing the music while the ball was in its cradle. It is really a cause-and-effect toy. However, this heavy plastic ball should not replace having a soft fabric ball for games of roly poly. While the music is pleasant, we take issue with the focus on teaching babies the ABCs.

Age: Infants. Award Year: .

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2004 Award
Wide Tracker Activity Walker
(Little Tikes $19.99 Score:) Testers gave high marks to Little Tikesí Wide Tracker Activity Walker has a wider opening in the back so kids are less likely to trip themselves on the wheels! This isn't weighted, the way walkers used to be made, so it's not for tots to pull up on.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Naturally Playful Woodland Climber
(Step 2 $179.99 Score:) New this year is Step 2ís Naturally Playful Woodland Climber, done in muted tones (really a matter of personal preference); it comes with a small ladder up to the 27" high platform with a slide on the other side. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2004.

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