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Product Type: Toys

 


2010 Award
Bendaroos 3D Activity Pack
(All Star Products $20 Score:)

Kids can bend, draw and create all sorts of shapes and letters with these colorful waxed strings. The kit includes 500 building sticks in rainbow and neon colors. It comes with 16  templates they can trace that tell them how many of each color is needed to make the pictured objects.  It also comes with 3 Bendamodels- little plastic forms that kids can add their bendaroos to in order to make their own unique designs. Our testers also liked the crimper cutter for when they wanted to move on to another color. While the step by step process encourages kids to match and work in a step by step sequence, these waxed strings can also be used in an open-ended way to make whatever the imagination desires. This art material can help develop fine motor skills of little fingers as well as eye/hand coordination kids need for writing, in a more entertaining way than repetitive pencil and paper tasks. Bendaroos hold their shape better than pipe cleaners and will actually stick to walls or windows.  Marked for 3 & up, this is a toy that will be used in far more complex and interesting  ways by early school aged kids of 5-7.

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

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2009 Award
LeapFrog Text & Learn
(LeapFrog $21.99 Score:)

You say you don’t want to share your Blackberry with your preschooler? Not to worry. Text & Learn is a fine alternative – giving them a PDA that fits their hands and curiosity. In fact, it is not just a little pushbutton toy that looks like the real thing. It is scaled up in size and the games it plays help develop letter recognition, as well as Qwerty keyboard savvy. So, although there is an element of pretend play built in, this is a small electronic toy that can build kids skills as well of satisfying their desire to do their own kind of “texting.” 3 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.


 

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Awards
TotSports Bowling Set
(Little Tikes $14.99 Score:) Six see-through plastic pins are loaded with colorful balls that shake rattle and roll when they are knocked over with the big but lightweight bowling ball. A good classic toy with a fresh new look. Fun for active play indoors or out. Says 2 & up, but 2's won't understand this or enjoy it as much as preschoolers and even early school aged kids. See the SNAP suggestions for making a math game for older kids (800) 432-5437. SNAP Activity: This is a good game that develops eye hand coordination and requires repetitive setting up and fetching the ball. Taking turns and following rules are also built into the fun. Young kids love such games for their own sake and especially if the grown-ups in their lives are bowlers, too. If appropriate, you can build some simple counting or adding skills with this,as well. With preschoolers, keep track of how many pins were knocked down. Keep a tally with chalk or pencil and paper. Make bundles of five stick marks. Player who gets two bundles first is the winner of that round. For school aged kids, tape numerals 1-6 to the pins and have your child add up the scores. Set a number for grand slam winner. First player to knock down ten wins the round!

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

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2003 Award
Mega Bloks Little Builders
(Ritvik (Mega Bloks) $10.99 Score:) Our testers enjoyed playing with this 16-piece set that includes three bases and interchangeable tops, including ambulance, firetruck, and police car. Chunky enough for early road play. There is also a construction set for "road work." They say 1 & up, we'd say more like 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2003.

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Baby Smartronics Speak & Teach Phone
(Fisher-Price $14.99 Score:) The new Baby Smartronics Speak & Teach Phone (Fisher-Price $14.99 ) did not test well. Cord is too short (our tot had to lean all the way over!) and the receiver is too hard to get back into the cradle.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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Life Style Kitchen
(Step 2 $180 Score:) New for 2003, Life Style Kitchen ($180). For the toddler who needs the dream kitchen (in plastic, of course), this one comes with wainscoting, crown molding, simulated granite, and gooseneck faucet, and takes 12 AA batteries (that's a lot of lifestyle!). This was not ready for testing.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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2003 Award
Musical Hands Mat
(International Playthings $29.99 Score:) Following the flashing lights above each handprint on the 45" mat allows children to play a tune. This calls for visual attention and sequencing. Marked for 2s, but this will be hard for most toddlers under 2˝. A much better choice for preschoolers and beyond!

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

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2003 Award
My First Briefcase
(Gund $15 Score:) Just like Mommy and/or Daddy, toddlers now have a fabric briefcase-in navy. Tot-sized case has three essentials for young executive on the move: a cell phone with quiet sounds, a squeaking calculator, and a key. All props done in fabric and ideal for early pretend. Also cute, My First Lunchbox ($15 ), same idea with apple, Dagwood sandwich that layers with Velcro, and a crunchy cookie. 18 mos. & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2003.

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Poupette
(Corolle $39 Score:) This collection of six multicultural dolls is right on target for threes and fours. Each has a reversible dress with Velcro fasteners. These would have been Platinum winners, but they're marked 18 mos. & up, and the small hair accessories make them more appropriate for 3 & up. Also new, tubbable bath dolls; select either Les Bébés Bains ($40 each ) (Caucasian or Asian version available) or long-haired 14" La Poupee Bain ($65 each ). 3 & up. Still top rated, Les Minis Calins Blue Chip ($16 & up ), sweet 8" soft-bodied dolls which also come in Asian and African American versions.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: .

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2003 Award
Sunshine Circus
(Reprint Mint $58 Score:) Ladies, gentlemen, and children of all ages! Welcome to the Big Top Striped Tent! Has painted chipboard panels and towers. Will inspire lots of pretend with trapeze and ring. Clowns ($8 each) and other props are sold separately.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2003.

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