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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Games

 

 
2009 Awards
LeapFrog Scribble & Write
(LeapFrog $22 Score:)

There is a screen on this little letter toy that asks you to trace the shapes shown. Like your old magic slate, you can “erase” the shapes you trace. Here’s the problem…it will tell you good job even when you do not trace what is there! We like electronic toys to be kind, but giving false praise can be confusing. The letter games are simple tracing. You push a letter on the keyboard and it says the name of the letter and then lights up a template on the screen to trace. Unlike so many toys, this one does have both upper and lower case letters---that is a good thing. The curves on the screen are not exactly round, but they are not bad. After the letter has been traced the child is also told what sound the letter makes. The final game asks kids to watch the lines on the screen form a letter and when recognized push the right key on the keyboard. We’d say, skip the shape game with its misleading praise and go right to the letters. They say 3 & up, we’d say 4-5 is closer to the truth.

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

 

This is a straightforward toy for helping children who are learning to shape their letters. Keep in mind that following the lighted up letters is just one way to develop those skills. You can also give them a more direct experience by having them “write” with their fingers in wet sand or in a pan of flour…trace the first letter of your child’s name in the sand….have him trace it. Wipe it away and demo again how you do this and have him trace again. Eventually ask him to draw the letter so you can trace the letter he writes.
Avoid trying to do all the letters at one time. Pick two or three at most and keep the letters related in shape…i.e. do three stick shaped letters on the same day, such as L, T, and X. Or on another day work on C, O, and Q.

 

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

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2009 Award
Rainbow Race
(International Playthings $18 Score:)

Each player gets playing pieces that are the colors of the rainbow. A card is drawn that shows the colors in different order. Players race to stack their colors to match the rainbow card. This is a game that calls for visual memory, sequencing and speed, not to mention dexterity. They say 3 & up, we think this would be challenging but fun for older 4’s-7.
        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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2003 Award
If You Dare!
(International Playthings $20 Score:) The directions are clear and straightforward for this action game that requires kids to follow the directions on the cards to do things such as, "pretend to make pancakes," "imitate an opera singer," or "try to make another player laugh." A good party game for 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Lace-a-Saurus
(Lauri $11.99 Score:) These precut felt puppets with a dino theme are just right for your dinosaur fan with six pre-cut dinosaur hand puppets and one finger puppet. Kids lace them up and use them for storytelling. Kits come with yarn and big plastic needle for sewing (which develops fine-motor skills kids need for writing). 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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Leap Pad
(LeapFrog $34.99 Score:) We really wanted to love this electronic reading aid, but found the content disappointing and beyond the targeted 4-7 crowd. Labeled 4 & up, it introduces skills way beyond preschoolers' ability. Leap Pad Pro, aimed at second-fifth graders, has so much text on a page, it's frustrating to young readers and limits older ones. The company should hook up with a solid beginning-readers series to match their innovative technology.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: .

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Groovy Girls Best Friends Sleepover Game
(Briarpatch $19.99 Score:) Our die-hard Groovy Girls fans were very disappointed with this game because the directions were "too complicated, unclear, and way too long!" Testers used the play pieces in their dollhouse instead. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: .

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Twister Moves
(Hasbro $19.99 Score:) Unfortunately, this updated talking version of the game went too fast for our testers. The speed of the commands was beyond our most coordinated testers. We hope they repackage with music and commands at a slower pace!

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: .

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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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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 shedóbut 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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2004 Award
I Spy Bingo
(Briarpatch $15.99 Score:) Fans of the I Spy series will enjoy revisiting the graphics that are used in this straightfoward Bingo game. Players get Bingo by finding either the letter or one of the objects pn the draw card. There are two sides of the Bingo boards(one is in alphabetical order, making it easier ro find matches). They say 4 & up,we'd say more like 5. (800)232-7427.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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