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Product Type: Toys

 


Award
Garden-to-Go
(Alex $19.99 Score:) Preschoolers love the magic of seeing things grow. Apartment dwellers can garden on a windowsill. For the backyard set, more elaborate child-sized tools are available. New for 2004, Garden-to-Go (Alex $19.99 ) is an organizer for the young gardener. Bucket has a plastic container inside for wet "stuff," plus outside pockets for the small trowel, rake, and shovel that come with the set. Also comes with a pack of seeds and gardening glove. Our tester, thrilled with the results brought her plants in for show and tell. (888) 666-2539. Plastic Garden Tools (Little Tikes $2 each for small tools/$13 for a set of three larger tools ) are safer for preschoolers than metal. An accidental swing in the wrong direction will not mean a trip to the ER. They also don’t have splintery handles as some metal tools do, and won’t rust when they are inevitably left outside. Also recommended, Little Tikes’ Little Landscaper Lawn & Garden Cart ($17 ). Unlike a tippy wheelbarrow, it has two front wheels for stable pushing action. (800) 321-0183.

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

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Awards
eeBoo Children of the World Lacing Cards
(eeBoo $4.95 Score:)

Kids dive right into lacing activities without knowing they’re a great way to develop the fine-motor skills they’ll need for writing. While stringing beads, they can also sort by color and make patterns, learning to see likenesses and differences. Our favorites: Children of the World and Fairies of the Field (eeBoo $14.95 each ) Beautifully illustrated sturdy cards that kids will love to work on. 4 & up.  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. 

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2004 Award
Guess How Much I Love You Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $15 Score:) This company continues to make marvelous puzzles from picture-book art. This is a big (2' x 3') 24-piece puzzle from one of our favorites. Also in this size, Caillou. The company also makes smaller 36-piece puzzles which are more appropriate for next age group. Top rated: Olivia, Curious George, and Where the Wild Things Are. 4 & up. (212) 354-8840.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Puzzibilities Dump Truck and School Bus
(Small World Toys $10 Score:) These handsome puzzles are just right for beginners. Pieces with images lift out with little red knobs, and images are also below the pieces for matching. We especially like the Dump Truck and School Bus with multicultural casts. Favorite Toys and What Am I? will also be enjoyed. (800) 421-4153. Also top rated, Farm Friends (Battat $4.99 ), with nine animals to know and name. (800) 247-6144 x280.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
My First Puzzles
(Infantino $12.99 Score:) There are 6 big cardboard puzzles that you’ll want to introduce one at a time. There are 2 two-piece puzzles, 2 four-piece puzzles, and 2 six-piece puzzles with handsome graphics—ducks, monkeys, and ’gators. Also fun, an Alphabet Train ($12.99 ): each train has a letter in upper and lower case, and an object that starts with the sound of the letter. Still more challenging, Counting & Shapes Floor Puzzle ($12 ) a 30-piece train that’s more complex. Kids need to find geometric shapes before they can figure out the sequence of the trains and then add the animals to the top of the train. This takes some patience and a little help for beginners. 4–7. (800) 365-8182.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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Award
Thomas' Tracks & Trestles Game
(Briarpatch $19.99 Score:) Think Thomas meets Chutes and Ladders. The object for Thomas and his friends is to be first to reach the shed—but watch out for obstacles that send you backwards! Older fours who are fans of Thomas and can deal with those last-minute setbacks will enjoy this one. Will be best enjoyed by 5's & 6's. 800- 232 7427.

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

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Transportation Peg Set
(Lauri $11.99 Score:) Five colorful rubbery vehicles come with 20 big pegs to fit and stack in a carry-along sack. Fun for counting, sorting, dexterity, and pretend play. 2–5. 800- 451-0520.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Awards
eeBoo Pin the Tail on the Donkey
(eeBoo $15 Score:)

eeBoo has brought back this classic game with a variety of themes that will fit just about every birthday party.  Here's the classic version--happily  printed on a sturdy reusable poster and comes with a bandanna blindfold and two sets of 16 self-adhesive tails—no tacks needed!  A good party prop for several years of play. 

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Award
Hide & Seek
( $16 Score:) Testers like this memory game with a twist. Attractive images of familiar objects are pictured on small discs. Put colored plastic discs over five pictures, roll the color die, and try to name what picture is under the matching disc. A good language, color, and memory game for two or more players. 4 & up. 800-886-1236.

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

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2004 Awards
Design & Drill Activity Center
(Educational Insights $39.95 Score:) Here’s a new spin on a pretend drill and colorful pegs for making parquetry-like patterns on a big pegboard. Several bits fit into the battery operated "drill" that works in forward and reverse. Bits can also be placed in a hand powered screwdriver handle when the batteries go dry. Both girls and boys liked experimenting by making open-ended original designs before they moved on to replicating the patterns. They say 3 & up, we’d say more like 4–7. ACTIVITY: Give kids a few dots to experiment with making open-ended designs before moving on to the patterns. Use these to work on counting and color names. Did you use more red or blue pegs? Can you make anall red row? How many yellow did you use. Can you make a pattern...red, red, yellow, red, red,... What comes next? The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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