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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2003 Award
Talking Math Mat Challenge Game
(Learning Resources $29.95 Score:) This is one way to help kids learn math facts while thinking on their feet! Kids step on the vinyl mat to answer the math quiz that's programmed with two levels of difficulty. Level one asks kids to find a numeral named, simple addition, and subtraction. Level two asks for the "next" number in a sequence of three as in 5,4,? Or 5,6,?; Addition and subtraction jumps to missing factors as in 11 + ? is 15. Keep in mind that beginners need concrete materials to count before they learn the facts in rapid fire fashion. So this is more fun than flash cards, but not very different in content. It's for children who are ready for drill. Labeled 4-7, most fours will do only the numeral game. This is far more appropriate for mid-first and second graders. Forget the newer Factor Frenzy () and Light ‘N Strike Math (). Both require too many steps to enter an answer—totally frustrating. We passed on the Alpha-Bug Step ’n Spell, which became too difficult too quickly and was not especially responsive. Also, testers gave the new-for-2007 ABC Chalk Talk! ($39.95 ) thumbs down because it is “buggy.” Players correctly identified “c” as the first letter of cup, but were told repeatedly that they were wrong. The tone of the machine isn’t mean but isn’t very pleasant, either. (800) 222-3909. SNAP AWARD ChIldren who avoid pencil and paper tasks, for any number of reasons, will find this active math drill game entertaining as well as getting practice with beginning math skills. However this is not a tool for kids who still need concrete materials to count. It's several steps beyond that.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2002 Award
Hisss
(Gamewright $10 Score:)

This game is fun, fast-paced, interactive and helps reinforce color concepts. Comes with 50 snake tiles that are part of the snake (head, tail, body section). The object is to build and collect the most snakes for your snake pit. Players take turns drawing cards and matching colors to the snakes under construction on the desk. The cards are made of sturdy stock and the graphics are colorful and not scary! As the instructions indicate you did need a large playing surface for this game which we believe would be most enjoyed by 4-7s.

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: 2002. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2002 Award
Dreamy Ribbon Jewelry
(Creativity for Kids $12 Score:) You'll need to help younger rtists thread the organdy ribbon into the needle and you'll want to keep track of tha needle,too, since it is pretty sharp. That said, this makes an assortment of charming necklaces and bracelets. Kit includes colorful gems and silver beads plus magnetic clasps. We think this will appeal to slightly younger girls than the Bead SHop version which has more serious looking beads and organdy that needs to be cut in a point and stiffened with nail polish. Kids are going to love the finished pieces. This is as the maker says, on the mark (with adult help) for 7s and up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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Dot to Dot Markers To Go
(Alex $19 Score:) An updated version of Markers to Go with a new see through red polka dotted vinyl finish. Both boys and girls will enjoy using this container with 50 assorted colorful markers that unfolds like a make-up case with a velcro closure. (Don't let the make-up case reference throw you off- this will appeal to boys as well. It has blue trim and a green handle). There are four zippered compartments that hold 28 fine tip markers, 14 brush tip markers and 8 broad markers. Great for homework assignments and traveling with an young artist. Makes a terrific birthday present.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Awards
Baby's Wind Chimes
(Tiny Love $11 Score:)

Sadly, this product has been discontinued. Here's one of the best new add-ons for the Gymini Play mat. It's a kicking toy with pleasing chimes. Baby activates the sounds by kicking or hitting the three colorful dangling chimes that are suspended on a small arch. This can also be attached to stroller for melodic walking tours. Has an old fashioned and refreshing sound quality in a world full of electronic noises.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2002.

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2003 Award
Ribbon Raps
(Fashion Angels Enterprises $14.95 Score:) Organdy ribbon necklaces are very trendy and expensive to buy in the store which is why our testers really wanted to get started with this kit. Comes with enough material for five necklaces and five bracelets so this would make a good choice for a rainy day playdate. Kit has five different colors of organdy ribbon, a variety of beads in varying shapes and colors. Kit does not come with the clear nailpolish that's required for making a point on the end of the ribbon for "self-beading". Some of our testers thought it would be better if the kit came with the polish! A good choice for 9s and up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2002 Award
Big Top Flippity Flops
(Alex $40 Score:)

A very special handsome wooden domino-like set (70 pieces) that comes with clowns and fun action pieces that start the tumbling. The dominoes do not have dots on them for traditional domino play but you can play stacking games with them as well as knock'em down games. Our testers enjoyed making up their own color patterns. A classic toy that requires teamwork, patience and it's the type of toy that kids like to try again and again. Once you get them started you can bow out - unlike a lot of preschool games that require a full time adult.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2002. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2002 Awards
Lamaze Puppytunes
(Learning Curve International $19.99 Score:) Companion to the original Octotunes( with eight squeezable legs), this colorful velour puppy has only four squeezable legs and is less expensive. We doubt you'll make real music with this, so, four legs might well be as good as eight. With crinkle ears and polka-dotted and checkerboard patterns for eye-appeal, Puppytunes has stitched features and a cheerful face. Little hands will find the legs on the puppy easier to push and make something happen. No batteries are needed, this works on the old fashioned principle of a squeeze toy that is hand powered. It does have a vanilla scent that you will either love or hate. They say birth and up, but we think older babies and toddlers will enjoy it more. 9 months & up.

Age: Infants,Toddlers. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Triceratops Puzzle
(Lauri $7.5 Score:) Newest in the Lauri puzzlein a tray collecton is Triceratops, a 12 piece puzzle that will appeal to the dinosaur lover and calls for problem solving and patience. Like all the Lauri tray puzzles this comes with a pattern that can be used for matching for beginners. Put the pattern away when they are ready to do it without help. Also, new this season, a Unicorn puzzle with pastel pieces. 3-6

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Awards
Lacing & Tracing Tools
(Lauri $6.99 Score:) Newest addition to Lauri's sturdy lacing shapes. These seven chubby primary colored tools ( hammer, saw, wrenches, drilll, screwdriver) come with colorful laces that will keep little hands busy. This kind of play is good for quiet times and travel and will appeal to boys and girls. Lacing helps develop the same fine motor skills needed for writing. 3-7

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2002.

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