We recognize that parents are handing their iphones off to toddlers and allowing them to play apps designed for young children. We have serious reservations about the wisdom of this, but we do think a case that protects the screen and phone from inexperienced hands makes a lot of sense. This one has side handles and rings to play with. The see through screen protects the phone from dribbles and sticky fingers. The home button is blocked so your toddler won’t be making any calls. It also gives you access to free learning apps. Marked 6 months & up. We think that is really way too young for little screen watching games. Remember the more you put a screen on in their face, the more they will be hooked on screens...babies and toddlers learn best from people and real things, not images on a screen.
Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Designed for older experienced builders, this model of the Empire State Building has very, very small pieces. It is one of a series of architectural landmarks that can be constructed in miniature. Our tester also built a small but elegant model of the Big Ben. 12 & up.
Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Another of the mini play settings from Diggin that is portable and small but pretty complete. You open the wooden box and all the pieces are inside ready to set up in a variety of ways. The castle is painted like gray stone. It comes with 2 wooden knight figures, 1 princess, 1 dragon and a catapult. Castle folds up and is easy to set up. When closed, it is easy to take with you anywhere, and has a handle on the top. Very nice quality. Perfect take along to Gram's house or fun to find there for pretend play. 3 & up.
Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
A very compact dollhouse that is really a mini house with two floors, a staircase that flips down so two play figures can climb up and down. There's a sink, a table, a little piano, a swing, a bed, and a tub. A pink wooden box with furnishings inside and a handle on top to tote it about. Perfect take along to Gram's house or fun to find there for pretend play. 3 & up.
Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2012.
A great way to explore the science of bubbles! Includes a tray, a pyramid framed wand, a cube frames wand, other shaped wands, yarn, straws, wand sticks, a mouthpiece to form a cone shaped blower, a small container of bubble solution and best of all an experiment booklet for making all sort of bubble magic happen. You will need to add more dish washing detergent. Younger kids will need your help with reading the directions and your participation in making some of the experiments work. That said, this is an interesting kit that our tester really loved. Making a bubble within a bubble took some try-try-again efforts, but in the end there was triumph! 5 & up with parent's help. 8 & up independently.
Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Well known for their models of farm equipment, this year’s big combine is 9 inches X 7 inches and has taken on a slightly jazzier look and sound. Done in the Ertl classic green with yellow trim, the new look includes super bouncy rubbery tires, and a shaking action with engine start up sounds and more. A smaller Monster Tred Tractor comes with big tires, plus lights and sounds. Both a fun choice for pretend play. 3 & up.
Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2012.
A bright yellow rattle has an easy to grab hollow body and a head with two ribbon "ears." Turn it over and there's a small peek-a-boo unbreakable mirror. The ring shape body has ridges and chewy parts. Also from Chicco, a Baby Mouse rattle with a turning wheel and chewy tabs.
Age: Infants. Award Year: 2012.
Fans of everything pirates and specifically the Disney show Jake and the Never Land Pirates will enjoy this treasure grabbing game. The board sets up with Captain Hook taking a nap on his hammock -- he's surrounded by all of his treasures. On each turn you will be instructed (by where you land) on which tool you will use to remove the treasure from the hammock. Use the little plastic sword, fishing pole, tweezers (the easiest) or the shovel to grab your treasure. BUT be careful--if Captain Hook falls off the hammock, you lose the round. Fun and fast rounds.
Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Huggalos are soft huggable dolls with a dedicated place on their chest for placing a photo of someone special. There's Doodle Dude (made of canvas and intended to be written on), Camo Joe (done in green fleece camaflouge), Huggsley (our favorite - he comes with a cape and is clearly the super hero of the line), and Camo Flo (same idea as Camo Joe but done in pink). We think this collection will have an audience with not only the preschool set--but tweens/teens. The line has a sense of humor and whimsy to it that will likely have wide appeal.
SNAP: Having a photo of a family member can be a comfort take-along when going out into the world. This one is less young looking than most and a little more amusing.
Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
To celebrate their 150th anniversary, FAO Schwarz has reintroduce a classic Playmobil set that is very special. In addition to the victorian house (that comes completely furnished), our testers loved the horse and buggy for taking the family out for a ride. The attention to detail (as with all Playmobil sets) is unmatched-- our favorites: the grandfather clock, the flower boxes, the "modern" car, and the umbrella and purse for the lady of the house! A great parent/child project that will then be used a setting for dramatic play. Available at the store or at TRU on line.
Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.
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