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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2000 Awards
Letter Detective
(Ravensburger $18 Score:) Kids who are learning their letters often benefit from getting the feel of the shape of letters as well as their look. This game comes with a box that kids put their hands in to feel and try to name the letters. Don't put all the letters in at the start. Use a few letters. If your child is working on sounds play a game by asking them to say the letter and a word that begins with that letter's sound. SNAP INFO: This game centers on a special box that kids can put their hands into and feel letters that they try to identify by touch. Start with just a few letters rather than the whole alphabet. There are several games suggested that our testers enjoyed. Adaptation: You can also use this well-made box for other feel-and-say games with shapes, textures, numerals and other objects. This is a good game that provides multi-sensory experiences. It is obviously a good one for kids with visual impairments.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2000.

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2001 Awards
Lauri's Lacing & Tracing Dinosaurs
(Lauri $6.95 Score:) Dinosaur lovers will enjoy these bright dinos that they can lace with colorful yarn. These are a fun way to develop fine motor skills. New for 2007, Farm Lacing and Tracing Set (Lauri $6.99 ) with pig, horse, sheep, cow, hen, barn, and farmer on a tractor, plus colorful laces for “sewing.” SNAP INFO: These dinosaur boards with prepunched holes to lace are an entertaining way to motivate kids to use and refine their fine motor skills. These dinos are slightly more challenging than some of the shapes in other chipboard sets offered by Lauri. ACTIVITY: Kids can trace the dinos and use them for cutting, pasting or coloring.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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2000 Awards
Zoo Puzzibilities
(Small World Toys $8 Score:) Kids will have fun fitting together these splinter-free, giant, pegged whole-piece puzzles. Lift the giraffe, elephant and zebra and there's a matching animal below. Still recommended: Fruit, Farm, & Pets. SNAP INFO: Lift the giraffe and what's underneath? Another giraffe. For young puzzlers this is a matching game and the picture below helps kid discover how to rotate the whole piece into the space. These three place puzzles with large easy to grip handles are a good place to start.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2000.

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2000 Awards
Geometric Puzzle Board
(Guidecraft $15 Score:) Five big geometric shapes with stout, easy-to-grasp handles fit into the color matching puzzle board. This classic-styled puzzle is perfect for knowing and naming familiar shapes and colors. ACTIVITY: Put three or four chips under the puzzle pieces. Mark a die or make a spinner with each of the shapes. Players roll and take a chip from under the shape they roll. Winner is the first to collect 10 chips. SNAP INFO: Five big geometric shapes with stout, easy-to-grasp handles fit into the color matching puzzle board. This classic-styled puzzle is perfect for knowing and naming familiar shapes and colors. ACTIVITY: Put three or four chips under the puzzle pieces. Mark a die or make a spinner with each of the shapes. Players roll and take a chip from under the shape they roll. Winner is the first to collect 10 chips.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2000.

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1995 Awards
Babys First Blocks
(Fisher-Price $12.99 Score:)

Technically this is a shape-sorter, but the 10 blocks will be used to fill, spill and throw long before the baby can fit them into the three-place shape-sorter lid of the container. Put the lid away for now. A no gimmick classic that is neither complicated nor expensive. We much preferred this toy when it only had three shapes (circle, square and triangle)--the addition of the other shapes and more openings makes this less elegant and user friendly...but still a good basic toy.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 1995. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Awards
Groovy Girls and Groovy Boys
(Manhattan Toy $10 Score:)

This continues to be a BLUE CHIP collection of soft 13" multi-ethnic dolls with stitched features, yarn hair, and groovy clothes. Happily, there is a boy doll in this line.  Still the superlative gift, consider Supersize Yvette or Gwen ($50 each 5), a 40" child-sized fabric doll that’s like a pretend play pal. We found the new Groovy Girls’ PetRageous ($16.99) disappointing. If you didn’t see the hangtags you wouldn’t know they were from the same folks—they lack the wonderful design quality and spirit of the dolls. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2000 Awards
School Bus
(Playhut $29.99 Score:) Here's a new twist on play tents. Choose School Bus, Ice Cream Truck, Space Shuttle, or Fire Engine (app. 28" L x 55"W x 36"H). Kids love enclosed spaces where they feel big and imagination takes off. A bit more literal than a tent made of a blanket, but either makes a great rainy day prop for pretending. We wish the ice cream truck were a little less pink and lavender. 3 and up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2000.

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2006 Awards
Musical Jewelry Box
(Alex $19.99 Score:) Originally a Platinum Award winner in 2000, this box has been updated (with extra bling). This is the quintessential jewelry box with a spinning ballerina inside. Comes with sparkling gems to glue on top and a frou-frou tutu of pink tulle on a hot pink ribbon to attach to the box. A very girlie-girlie gift, but likely to win the oo-oohs and ah-h-h-hs of beginners. The box is finished in pink so there's not a lot to do, but it's showy and quick. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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1998 Award
Activity Rock Kit
(GeoCentral $18.95 Score:) If you have a budding rock collector in your family, this kit will be a sure-fire hit. Comes with activity book and 12 minerals that have special attributes sure to wow friends and family. For example, there's optical calcite, floating pumice, and magnetic lodestone. New for 2003, Break Your Own Geodes comes with ten small geodes. You'll need to supply the safety googles.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 1998.

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2000 Award
Hoberman Pocket Flight Ring
(Hoberman Designs $7 Score:) A new twist on a Frisbee type of toss-and-catch toy. This one has interlocking pieces that allow it to expand and contract from pocket size to a full sized ring. A good take along for active play after sitting still for long stretches.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2000.

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