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Product Type: Toys

 


2005 Award
Pastel Pancake Bears
(North American Bear Co. $14 Score:)

These scrumptious flat bears in pastel colors. Soft, lovies. Just right for quiet moments. Also available as bunnies, cats and other flat lovables.


Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2005. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Tomy Ball Party Symphony Tower
(International Playthings $29.99 Score:) Our favorite collection of toddler toys has taken a wrong turn. The newest is a tower with balls rolling down, hitting sound sensors as they go. Unfortunately, the cartoonish sounds are extremely irritating.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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2003 Awards
Marble Train
(Kidstation $44 Score:) Testers couldn't keep their fingers off this old-fashioned looking wooden 24" x 11" maze that is loaded with giant marbles that roll, but can't come out. The object is to move them through the gates, curves, and swirls. This calls for individuating the pointer finger from others. Toddlers will return to this one again and again. SNAP Activity: This is safe enough even for tots who are still mouthing their toys. Yet the opportunity to make something happen while using individual fingers was very satisfying. You may want to sing a little tune as you introduce this game. Try "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" or any other tune that suits your fancy. Instead of "Row Row, Row Your Boat" - how about push, push push the marble push it round and round......:

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Earlyears Sweet Baby Blocks
(International Playthings $13 Score:) Six soft, squeezable vinyl blocks, easy to grasp, with a colorful single image on each face of the cubes. Fun for stacking, knocking down, and tossing. These have been updated with new graphics on every side of the cubes. They have added graphic patterns that can also be matched by older children. These are a bit large for little hands to grasps easily, but the raised edge may help. Fun for stacking and knocking down. Images are a bit cartoonish so may be harder for kids to identify than more realistic images would be. Also, the Earlyears Soft Busy Blocks ($10) are soft stackable blocks which have soft sides and corded piping. Colorful graphics and patterns and quiet sounds make these good floor toys for beginners. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Earlyears Soft Busy Blocks
(International Playthings $15 Score:) Four soft stackable blocks have soft sides and corded piping that makes them easy for baby to grasp. Colorful graphics and patterns and quiet sounds make these good floor toys for beginners. Also, Earlyears Sweet Baby Blocks ($13 ). Six soft, squeezable vinyl blocks, easy to grasp, with a colorful single image on each face of the cubes. Fun for stacking, knocking down, and tossing. SNAP:These have been scaled down in size and are easier to grab than the originals. The set of four fabric blocks has interesting texture and patterns and a quiet sound in each block. Activity: Sit on the floor and put one or more blocks on your head or shoulder and encourage your tot to knock 'em off! (800) 445-8347. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Ello
(Mattel $19.95 Score:) Designed to attract girls to construction toys, this is an innovative building system with panels and Matisse-inspired cutout disks that can be joined with square and circular connectors, string and slender sticks for adding extra flair. Research has indicated that playing with blocks and building sets help to develop important spatial relations and math skills needed for later achievement in math, engineering and science. Unfortunately too many sets on the market are geared only for boys. We particularly liked the look of the Ello-opolis set, which has a modern art feel, or the underwater Ello Aquaria set. (Imagine Matisse or Calder designing a construction set!) They have an engaging color palette (refreshingly not all pink!) and have interesting building pieces that lend themselves for open-ended play.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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FurReal Friends Kitten
(Hasbro $35 Score:) If you have a child who is allergic to cats but wants one madly, this might do the trick! Our tester loved the way this big white furry angora type cat responded with motion and sounds to the touch. Looks a lot like Snowbell in the Stuart Little movie. With sensors in its cheeks, head, back, shoulder and tail this is the most life-like cat we've ever tested. But it doesn't always do what's expected. It purrs, meows, moves its head and tail. The problem is it also seems to roar with some very un-cat like sounds! Comes with a brush for grooming and an adoption certificate. 6 & up. (800) 752-9755.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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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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Awards
Plan Toys Fruit Play Set
(Brio $15 Score:) Like a real knife, there's a right and wrong side of the wooden "knife" that kids use to cut apart Velcroed halves of three wooden fruits. Veggies set also available. SNAP: Wooden fruits and veggies can be “cut” apart with wooden knife that seems to cut the Velcro-ed segments. Comes with lemon, orange, pear, mushroom, carrot, and tomato, plus board and wooden knife. Activity: Use fraction words when you ask child to cut you a half of one fruit or a quarter of something else. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: .

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2002 Awards
Lacing Beads in a Box
(Lights, Camera, Interaction! $15 Score:) Thirty painted wooden shapes (rectangles, squares, triangles, circles and ovals) come with colorful patterns. The squares are marked with numerals from 1 to 10. Comes with two long laces (red and green) and all are neatly contained in a wooden box with a plexiglass sliding top for storage. An open ended toy with multiple types of learning possibilities. Talk with your child about making patterns with the numbers, patterns and shapes. SNAP Award: Encourage your child to sequence the numerals in order; also work on making patterns with shapes or colors. If you use a red, then a green, then a red, ...what comes next? Work on simple patterns and gradually make them more complex. This is really an open ended set for developing language, fine motor and math skills.

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

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