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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
Alex Bling Bangles Activity Kit
(Alex $14.99 Score:)

No weaving or intricate bead work needed to produce a wardrobe of six sparkly bangles. Apply the sticky gem strips to the slender metal bangles and wrap them with the colorful floss. 7 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Alex Boho BandsActivity Kit
(Alex $19.99 Score:)

Crafty hands can make fashionable beaded bracelets that can wrap around the wrist multiple times or make singles with this bead weaving kit. It comes with a small loom, tons of beads, metal charms and clear instructions. It is marked for 8 and up, but 8's-9's will need lot of help to get the hang of this. That said, we do think teens and even Moms will like making some bands of their own and the kit comes with ideas for buying more beads and doing just that. A kit that introduces a crafting skill that can be used even after the beads are used up. 8 & up

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Magic School Bus Math Explosion
(The Young Scientists Club $29.99 Score:)

Math Explosion makes math a blast! Basically, this is a flashcard game, except it does not come with premade cards. You get to select the ones that match your child's individual needs. You go on line to print out the right ones to reinforce the child's skills level. Scholastic has provided your choice of addition, subtraction, multiplication tables and division problems that you print out on colorful paper they provide. The game board comes with a small mountain and container where the vinegar cup goes (be forewarned the mountain is a bit out of shape since it comes smushed with rubber bands to fit it into the box...and they do not provide vinegar or the baking soda needed for play, but it, that said, you probably won't mind. Here's how it works. Players take turns answering math facts and if they get the right answer they advance on the board... with a chance to add a spoonful of baking soda to the playing piece cup. The first to reach the volcano gets to pour the baking soda into the volcano. You could say this game is a blast, with kids racing to be the one to set off the explosion, which, by the way collects neatly in a tray provided. Science and math, a fun combo for kids at various grade levels. We generally do not encourage games that are designed around flashcards. They are not for everyone. Keep in mind, flashcards do not teach math, they reinforce it. For developing speed and memory they can be useful.  But for kids still struggling with basics you might want to find another way to build confidence instead of speed. 6-10

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Creativity for Kids Origami
(Creativity for Kids $14.99 Score:)

An ancient art with an up to date look! Patterned and neon colored paper plus stickers add to the fun. The kit has 60 sheets of paper and easy to follow step by step instructions. Kids can also watch on YouTube for a guided tutorial. Origami not only develops problem solving skills and visual/manual dexterity, it is one of those ancient art forms that is both challenging and satisfying. 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Surfside Scramble
(Educational Insights $12.99 Score:)

A summery look to a word game played with mini-flip-flop cards. Each card is printed with two different letters on each side. Players take 15 flip-flops, turn the timer over and proceed to use all their flip flops before the timer runs out! Part of the challenge is in linking the words since you must use the last letter of one word to start the first letter of the next word, for example...if cat is your first word the linking word will start with "t" as in top...and the next word must start "p." Players receive points for building the longest series of words, the longest word, and the greatest number of words. It's a fast paced twist on scrabble that can be enjoyed by mixed age groups.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Folkmanis Grunting Pig Puppet
(Folkmanis $29.99 Score:)

This 14' pig has plush and velour pointy ears that look big enough for flying! Buttery soft and cuddly, it has a tannish patchy body with dark grey spots, a movable mouth and a special spot that grunts when squeezed. Pig's legs are not rigid, as shown in the photo; they sort of sit softly in your lap when he's held. Perfect for dramatic play and original story telling.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Crash
(International Playthings $19.99 Score:)

If you like Jenga-styled games, this is a fun variation. At first we could not imagine that it would work. The idea is that you set up four stories of towers (each has ten columns holding up the ring). Each player takes a turn pulling out columns and then adding that column above. While we had our doubts, it turns out that we could add all the other levels.  Great fun--but we believe this is a much better game for the 8 & up crowd, not the marked 4 & up.  The tension, not to mention the fine motor skills required to play this game  will be too much for many kids (and certainly most 4 year olds).

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Charity Bake Sale Kit
(Bizainy $30 Score:)

If you have a child that wants to run a bake sale as a charity event, you may want to take a look at this kit that really lays out the process. The set comes with a banner, signs, etc....we're more in favor of going old school on these items. That said the real value of this kit comes in the Fundraiser Planner workbook that takes your child (and you) through the process of planning an event. How much you'll need depending on the scale/location of your bake sale, how to promote it, and how best to run it.  There are also four baking recipes, donor stickers, a sales pad, donation jar stickers and money box. The age range on the box is off in our opinion. The box is marked 5 and up.  The value of this kit will be most appreciated by older school aged kids and tweens.

The company also makes a Lemonade Stand Kit which at first we thought was silly--but we LOVED the budget page that has kids think about the cost of the ingredients - a step most kids skip when planning on making lots of money via their own stand. 

For fans of Shark Tank this certainly brings a range of issues (budgets, planning, pr, marketing) into the equation for kids.  We know that some kids will love the structure and information, for others -- this will feel too slick.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Creativity for Kids Sparkling 3D Wonder Paint
(Creativity for Kids $25 Score:)

The latest in the 3D Wonder Paint line of kits from Creativity for Kids. We love it. The set comes with six clear plastic ornaments that you can decorate with the very sparkling paint. Comes with five colors, a pearl paint outliner that you use on the included plastic sheets. Designs are made on the sheets, left to dry (overnight) and then added to the ornaments. One of the most satisfying kits we've tried this year! Great for making keepsakes and gifts for the holidays.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Creativity for Kids Rhinestone Wrap Bracelets
(Creativity for Kids $ 19.99 Score:)

You may buy this set for your tween, but any teens in the house will soon want in on this fun activity jewelry set. Comes with faux suede jewelry cord (in LOTS of colors) that you can decorate with self-adhesive rhinestone strips. (They had us at self-adhesive!) Our testers also liked the color and metal button closures that give this a more upscale finish. The kit also includes sparkle thread (because let's face it, you always could use a little more sparkle), craft glue, rhinestone accents and instructions.   Younger kids will need some adult assistance getting started--but in the end the bracelets will be greatly enjoyed by the crafter or as a gift. Enough here to make this a good choice for a playdate or small craft party.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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